A conservative organization is preparing a new attack in a protracted legal battle with the State Department over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE’s private email server.
Lawyers with Judicial Watch on Tuesday said they would demand that the department declare whether Clinton received explicit approval to use a private email account and personal server while serving as secretary of State.
Either Clinton was allowed to use the setup, in which case the server should be considered an official government system of records and ought to be handed back to the department, they said, or she wasn’t, in which case Clinton operated outside the agency’s rules.
“We need to know whether or not Mrs. Clinton was authorized to use that system of records,” Judicial Watch attorney Michael Bekesha told a federal judge.
She was either approved to use the sever, he added, “or she was a rogue employee.”
Bekesha attempted to force the issue on Tuesday during a hearing in one of the nearly 40 outstanding public records cases concerning Clinton’s emails.
He called for Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant permission to bring State Department official Patrick Kennedy in for questioning to determine whether Clinton was authorized to exclusively use her private email setup.
Sullivan denied that initial request under pressure from the government, which pressed for the court case to continue on a normal course by filing legal briefs back and forth.
“We very much think this needs to be briefed as a legal issue in regular order,” Justice Department attorney Marcia Berman told the court.
“We think this is a legal issue and we look forward to briefing it.”
Now, the groundwork is set for Judicial Watch to declare in coming weeks that the State Department has not fully complied with its Freedom of Information Act request because it did not have access to all of Clinton’s emails. Clinton’s server is now in the hands of the FBI, which is looking to see whether the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton had marked as personal and deleted can be recovered.
“The question is whether or not the search was sufficient,” Bekesha said.
He indicated that Judicial Watch would file that document later this year, after the government seeks to declare that the case is over.
“You’re going to get your day in court,” Sullivan told Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch is suing the government over documents related to longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s unusual employment status that allowed her to work for an outside consulting firm and the State Department simultaneously.
The government said on Tuesday it would be able to hand over 69 pages of emails in response to that request.
Earlier in the day, federal lawyers also said they had discovered 326 emails potentially responding to a separate case brought by another conservative group, Citizens United. That case also requested information about Abedin’s work situation, as well as her conversations with Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills and the Clinton Foundation.
The government will release those emails to Citizens United on a rolling basis over the next two and a half weeks.
The new developments follow news that the government has discovered at least one string of emails from Clinton’s time in office that she had not turned over to the State Department.
Most of the emails in that chain with former Gen. David Petraeus were through a former email address that Clinton used while serving as a senator and before she moved to a clintonemail.com address, CNN reported at the time.
Last week, the State Department sent Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall a letter asking him to contact Internet service companies and other firms that might have access to any emails not in her hands, The Washington Times reported.