State Dept. to release 550 Clinton emails over Presidents Day weekend

The State Department will release 550 emails from Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton to Trump supporters: 'Don’t look for easy answers' Seven key findings in the Benghazi report Benghazi panel faults Clinton MORE’s private server this weekend after pressure from a federal judge who earlier this week appeared visibly annoyed at its delayed efforts.

In a court filing late Wednesday night, State Department official Eric Stein told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that department staffers have made “significant progress” on preparing the emails for release. 

ADVERTISEMENT
As a result, the department will now be able to release the roughly 550 emails — roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails — on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend. The department had previously said it could not release the emails until late next week.

Releasing the emails on Saturday “provides time to address any additional problems that may arise,” Stein wrote, “as have occurred in the past at this final stage in the process.”

The Obama administration is already more than a week behind schedule on the emails, which were all supposed to have been released by Jan. 29.

But last month, in a surprise announcement shortly ahead of the Iowa caucuses, the department said the last of Clinton’s emails would not be made public until the end of February.

Before Judge Rudolph Contreras on Tuesday, the administration said that it could not even release a fraction of those emails until at least next Thursday. In Stein’s filing late on Wednesday, however, he claimed that the State Department had brought on “additional resources” that have helped it speed up the process.

The State Department has been releasing the roughly 30,000 work-related emails from Clinton’s private server on a monthly basis since last year, the result of a lawsuit filed by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold. The monthly batches have steadily churned up fresh criticism of the former secretary of State's bespoke email setup. 

ADVERTISEMENT
In court on Tuesday, the administration said that it had approximately 570 emails ready to be posted to the Internet, but that it would take days for officials to do so.

Posting the documents online could take "upwards of 16 hours,” Stein wrote on Wednesday.

“Posting documents on State’s FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] website involves several steps, and State’s ability to efficiently carry out these steps is sometimes limited by the available technology and by the availability of personnel who are sufficiently familiar with the technology,” Stein wrote. “The FOIA system where the documents reside ... can be extremely rigid and slow, making the necessary steps in the process more time-consuming than one might otherwise expect.”

Clinton’s server is currently in the hands of the FBI, which confirmed to the State Department this week that it is investigating the machine. The bureau is exploring the possibility that classified information was mishandled, and some of Clinton’s critics have hoped for a criminal indictment.

More than 1,500 emails released by the State Department from Clinton’s inbox have been classified at some level. Twenty-two emails, which the department did not release were classified as “top secret.”

The emails were not marked as classified when they were sent, officials have noted, and Clinton’s presidential campaign has brushed off the government actions as “over-classification run amok.”