Feds try to quash Republicans' lawsuit over Clinton messages

Feds try to quash Republicans' lawsuit over Clinton messages
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The Obama administration is trying to kill a lawsuit from the Republican National Committee (RNC) seeking communications from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton5 things to watch in the Democratic debates Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt Mellman: Are primary debates different? MORE and emails from her former top aides.

Complying with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request at the heart of the lawsuit would require going through 1.5 million pages of files, Justice Department lawyers argued in a filing late on Wednesday. The excessively broad nature of the demands, they added, should prompt a federal court to toss out the suit.

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“Compiling, reviewing, and redacting documents responsive to these requests would take the State Department decades,” the lawyers claimed.

“This burden is unreasonable.”

The RNC has asked the State Department to hand over all text messages and BlackBerry Messenger communications to or from Clinton during her time in office, as well as all emails to or from four State Department officials throughout her tenure: ex-chief of staff Cheryl Mills, senior adviser Jacob Sullivan, undersecretary for management Patrick Kennedy and IT expert Bryan Pagliano.

After discussions with the State Department, the RNC agreed to limit the subject matter and dates for the aides’ emails, but officials would still need to page through hundreds of thousands of pages of messages.

Those emails contain classified material and information from other agencies, the State Department said on Thursday, prolonging the process of reviewing them for release.

The department has said that it has not been able to find any of Clinton’s text or BlackBerry messages. She never had a State Department-issued BlackBerry, government lawyers said in their filing, and did not hand over any text or Blackberry messages in the tranche of files given to the State Department for record-keeping in 2015.

The lawsuit is one of two separate open records cases filed by the RNC in March as the GOP targets Clinton’s controversial email arrangement.

A second lawsuit from the RNC is looking for communications between the State Department and Clinton’s campaign or its allied entities.

The suits were filed after the State Department failed to respond to open records request under FOIA.

The State Department has been flooded with FOIA requests in recent months, as scrutiny has mounted about Clinton and her email arrangement. The State Department’s inspector general last week criticized her use of a personal email account and private server throughout her time as the nation’s top diplomat, adding fire to the controversy that has dogged her presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, Pagliano’s lawyers revealed that he would refuse to answer questions during a deposition as part of another open records lawsuit involving Clinton’s emails.