Judge orders Justice, State departments to reopen narrow inquiry into handling of Clinton email records lawsuit

By Spencer S. Hsu
December 6 at 7:25 PM

A U.S. judge ordered the Justice and State departments Thursday to reopen an inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton used a private email server while secretary of state to deliberately evade public records laws and to answer whether the agencies acted in bad faith by not telling a court for months that they had asked in mid-2014 for missing emails to be returned.

The order risks reopening partisan wounds that have barely healed since Clinton?s unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid, but in issuing the order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act required it.

In a narrow but sharply worded 10-page opinion, Lamberth wrote that despite the government?s claimed presumption of transparency, ?faced with one of the gravest modern offenses to government openness, [the Obama administration?s] State and Justice departments fell far short? of the law?s requirements in a lawsuit for documents.

Lamberth added that despite President Trump?s repeated campaign attacks against Clinton for not making her emails public, ?the current Justice Department made things worse? by taking the position that agencies are not obliged to search for records not in the government?s possession when a FOIA request is made.

Lamberth wrote he took no pleasure in ?questioning the intentions of the nation?s most august? Cabinet departments but said it was necessary when their response ?smacks of outrageous misconduct.?

Conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch filed its FOIA lawsuit in July 2014 seeking State Department talking points issued after the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left a U.S. ambassador dead.

The suit came months before news broke in March 2015 that Clinton exclusively used a private email account as secretary from 2009 to 2013.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...it/2018/12/06/