A federal judge has ordered the State Department to release thousands of documents to the Associated Press related to former secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the next few months.
The AP reported that U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on Friday set the schedule for the federal agency’s release of the documents, which are related to longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s employment status in addition to Hillary’s schedules, appointments, and call history while at the State Department.
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In March, the Associated Press filed a lawsuit against the State Department, accusing the government agency of failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for thousands of documents related to Clinton, one of which was made more than five years ago.
Just last week, Judge Leon blasted the State Department during a court hearing on the case for its lack of response to the FOIA requests.
Leon balked at State’s inability to produce about 60 emails demanded in one particular FOIA request, saying, "Now, any person should be able to review that in one day–one day. Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this."
During the hearing last week, the judge, like Clinton critics, suggested that the government agency is protecting its former secretary of state by failing to produce documents related to her staff as she continues to weather criticism for her exclusive use of a personal email system while at State.
Per Leon’s order, the State Department will now need to release the documents to the Associated Press well before the 2016 Democratic presidential primary in which Hillary Clinton will compete against her now-surging liberal foe, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Amid controversy surrounding her use of private email during her time in the Obama administration, Clinton has endured drops in her favorable and honesty ratings. Majorities of American voters view Clinton as not trustworthy and unconcerned about their needs and problems.
Meanwhile, Sanders has seen his favorable score jump 13 percentage points since May. Notably, his support among likely Democratic voters in crucial early voting state New Hampshire is six times what it was before the Clinton email scandal broke.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a criminal probe into the security of Clinton’s private email system after revelations that multiple messages contained classified information.