The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Wednesday filed a pair of lawsuits demanding emails and records from Hillary Clinton and her top associates during and after her tenure at the State Department.
“The Obama administration has failed to comply with records requests in a timely manner as required by law,” said RNC chairman Reince Priebus in a statement, noting his organization had previously requested the documents from State last October and December.
“If this administration claims to be the ‘most transparent in history’ and Clinton the ‘most transparent person in public life,’ then they should prove it, release these records and allow the American people to hold her accountable,” he said.
Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, has faced repeated criticism for using a private email account during her tenure at State. Critics charge her personal email server could have put national security secrets at risk and violated laws on the treatment of classified information.
Clinton’s email practices have been at the center of a dizzying number of lawsuits, which State Department officials say have overwhelmed their staffers.
Last week, the department released the final batch of Clinton’s allegedly work-related emails, bringing to a close the 10-month process of monthly document dumps.
But Wednesday’s lawsuit from the RNC and others like it ensure that the issue won’t stay dead for long.
Republicans running for president have repeatedly hammered Clinton on the email issue, and conservative legal activists have pledged to try to uncover the roughly 30,000 supposedly personal emails Clinton claims to have deleted from her server.
On Wednesday, the RNC said it never received a response to the FOIA requests it filed late last year.
The committee’s first lawsuit seeks electronic communications sent to and from then-Secretary of State Clinton via texts and BlackBerry messenger, as well as emails to and from four senior Clinton aides: former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, former director of policy planning Jake Sullivan, State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy and former IT staffer Bryan Pagliano. Sullivan is currently a top adviser in Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Pagliano last week was reported to have been granted immunity to testify as part of the FBI’s ongoing investigation connected to Clinton’s use of a personal server while in office.
The second lawsuit seeks communications between senior officials at State and Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign and its allied entities.
That suit, the RNC says, concerns messages largely sent or received after Clinton’s tenure at State had concluded.
“Clinton’s actions while secretary of State — and the actions of those senior officials with whom she worked most closely and supervised — are manifestly relevant to whether she is fit to lead this country,” the RNC said in its complaint filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C.
Pagliano’s willingness to cooperate with federal investigators probing Clinton’s email could lead to new revelations about how the server was installed in Clinton’s New York home and how widespread knowledge of her private email system was.
Clinton has said she is “delighted” that Pagliano is cooperating with the federal investigation.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to discuss the email case during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday morning, citing the ongoing investigation.
“With respect to Mr. Pagliano or anyone who has been identified as a potential witness in any case, I’m not able to comment on the specifics,” Lynch told Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate's No. 2 Republican: Border tax 'probably dead' McConnell: Senate will pass short-term funding bill to avoid shutdown The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Texas), in response to repeated questioning.
The FBI has officially confirmed it has opened an investigation into Clinton’s email server, though officials have declined to describe the nature of the probe or whether it could lead to a criminal indictment.
The Democratic presidential candidate says she hasn’t been contacted about it.
“Absolutely not,” Clinton said Monday when asked by Fox News host Bret Baier if she or her lawyers had knowledge of such an investigation.
Clinton adamantly denies that she broke the law with her use of the private email account.
“I will reiterate because it’s a fact — nothing I sent or received was classified,” Clinton said.
Of the roughly 30,000 work-related emails from Clinton’s inbox released by the State Department, 2,080 have been declared classified at some level. Another 22 emails were classified at the highest level of “top secret” and were deemed too dangerous to release even in heavily redacted form.
It is unclear how many of the now-classified emails contained information that should have been considered classified at the time they were sent and how many were classified retroactively.
Like Clinton, White House officials have appeared to downplay the FBI’s investigation.
In January, press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that “some officials over there [at the Justice Department] have said that [Clinton] is not a target of the investigation.
“So that does not seem to be the direction that it’s trending,” he added, maintaining that the Justice Department would conduct its own probe.
On Wednesday, Lynch said that neither Earnest nor President Obama had been briefed on the investigation.
“It’s my hope that when it comes to ongoing investigations, that we all would stay silent,” she said on Capitol Hill. “I can assure you that neither I nor anyone from the department has briefed neither Mr. Earnest nor anyone else from the White House about this matter or other law enforcement matters.”
Updated at 7:04 p.m.