State to release some Clinton emails on Friday; thousands still delayed

The State Department on Friday will release roughly 2,000 pages of Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPetraeus calls for sequestration 'threat' to be eliminated Campaign manager: Trump would be willing to do another debate Could President Hillary heal a divided nation? MORE’s emails but will delay the final batch of messages until after voters go to the polls in the first several primary states.

In a court filing late on Thursday evening, the department insisted that it “regrets” its inability to publish the final 7,000 pages on Friday, as a federal court ordered it to do last year.

Yet it defended the delay, blaming an internal oversight and the snowstorm that crippled Washington in the past week.

As part of the process of making the emails public, the State Department is required to have other agencies review Clinton’s emails to check if any information should be redacted or marked as classified.

According to the department, it simply “missed” sending roughly 7,000 pages of emails to other agencies and did not notice the oversight until earlier this month. Its efforts to correct the problem were further delayed by the snowstorm, which closed the federal government through Wednesday.

The department has not even sent out documents to 12 agencies to review, it said.

Last week, the department pushed to delay the final deadline until Feb. 29.

As the journalist who sued the department to force the emails’ release pointed out, however, that would be after voters in the first four primary states have gone to the polls.

“[I]f the Court allows State to delay release of thousands of pages of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s official work emails, a substantial portion of the electorate will be forced to vote without the benefit of important information to which it is entitled about the performance of one of the candidates for U.S. President while serving as Secretary of State,” lawyers opposing the department’s schedule claimed earlier this week. 

The Obama administration was unmoved.

“Upcoming electoral events, while admittedly important to the public, do not change the fact that State needs this reasonable amount of additional time to complete the final stage of this enormous and complex undertaking,” lawyers representing the State Department wrote.

Critics have warned that the final tranche of emails could contain scandalous or scintillating nuggets about Clinton’s time in the State Department. Administration lawyers this week attempted to dismiss those allegations.

The 7,000 pages of emails that won’t be out for another month needed to go through “multiple” other agencies for review, they claimed.

“But that does not mean that these emails are more ‘controversial’ than other emails, or that the oversight that led to them not being sent to all the necessary agencies was related to their substance," they wrote. 

Republicans accused the State Department of “political favoritism” designed to protect Clinton.

“Voters deserve to know the facts before they cast their ballots, not after,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

“Today’s filing is further proof that the Obama administration would rather flaunt an order from a federal judge than reveal just how badly Hillary Clinton’s reckless conduct jeopardized our national security.”

This story was updated at 1:01 p.m.