Judge orders new search for Hillary Clinton's Benghazi emails
© Greg Nash

A federal judge ordered the State Department on Tuesday to resume its search for emails and other records related to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans died.

D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the agency has not fulfilled its duty in properly searching for all relevant documents related to the attack in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans lost their lives.

Documents may include additional communication between Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE, who was secretary of state at the time, and her staff. 

"The court finds that State’s search was inadequate insofar as it did not search the official state.gov e-mail accounts of Secretary Clinton’s three aides, and orders State to conduct a supplemental search of those accounts," according to the ruling.

The aides include Huma Abedin, former deputy chief of staff; Cheryl Mills, former chief of staff; and Jacob Sullivan, former director of policy planning.

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The judge said while the State Department likely won't be able to "adequately" produce emails sent from Clinton's private email server while she served at the time as secretary of state, the agency "has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records."

Mehta also expressed doubt that a more thorough search of Clinton's and top aides' official State Department emails on the attack would "produce any marginal return" but required it regardless.

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, said the ruling is another victory in its efforts to obtain access to thousands of records related to the incident through a Freedom of Information Act request.

"This major court ruling may finally result in more answers about the Benghazi scandal — and Hillary Clinton's involvement in it — as we approach the attack's fifth anniversary," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement Thursday.

Judicial Watch first submitted a FOIA request shortly after news broke that Clinton had used an unofficial email server while serving as the head of the State Department in March 2015.

The group then filed suit against the agency two months later, after the State Department failed to respond to its request.

"It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department's Benghazi stonewall," Fitton said in his statement.

The State Department has until Sept. 22 to update the court on its additional search.