Judge orders State to begin releasing Clinton emails next month

Judge orders State to begin releasing Clinton emails next month
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The State Department must start releasing the additional 15,000 emails uncovered during the FBI's investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE's private server starting on Sept. 13.

The date is a full month earlier than agency officials had hoped to begin the release. 

State Department officials confirmed the existence of those emails to a separate federal judge on Monday. They also said they would need until Oct. 14 to determine which messages were work-related and to prepare those for release. That judge had decided to give the State Department until Sept. 23 to schedule to release the emails in batches. 

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But another judge in Florida, overseeing a separate complaint from Judicial Watch, ruled Thursday that State must start releasing those emails on Sept. 13. That ruling would require the agency to drastically speed up its work.

Judicial Watch lauded the judge's decision and accused Clinton of trying to delete relevant work emails. The conservative group has led the legal action forcing the government to release thousands of emails from the private server Clinton used while she was secretary of State.

It's "no wonder federal courts in Florida and DC are ordering the State Department to stop stalling and begin releasing the 14,900 new Clinton emails,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in the statement.

The judge's ruling, though, doesn't mean that all emails will be released. The ruling only covers emails related to Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the Benghazi attacks and other matters.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said in a statement that it's still unclear whether any of the new emails would qualify for release. 

"As we have said, the Department agreed to search the materials we received from the FBI in response to several pending FOIA requests and, to the extent responsive records are identified, produce them," Trudeau said in a statement. 

"Using broad search terms, we have identified a number of documents potentially responsive to a Benghazi-related request.  At this time, we have not confirmed that the documents are, in fact, responsive.  We also have not determined if they involve Secretary Clinton.” 

The FBI-recovered emails are the latest revelation in a saga that has dogged the Democratic presidential nominee since last spring. The new round of releases will keep the spotlight on the controversy and pressure on Clinton in the run-up to the election.

Clinton gave the State Department about 30,000 emails from her private server last year, which have been released by the agency on a rolling basis. She said she also deleted another 30,000 that she considered personal.

But FBI Director James Comey said in a press conference last month that Clinton had deleted "several thousand" work-related emails, too, which the agency was able to recover.

It's unclear how many of the new emails are work-related, or if the agency will be able to release all relevant emails before Election Day on Nov. 8.

Clinton's critics will keep up pressure for the State Department to act quickly.

Judicial Watch has previously accused the department of trying to slow the release of prior emails to avoid hurting Clinton politically.

The Justice Department cleared Clinton of allegations she mishandled classified information but still criticized her use of the private server for public business.

The latest email discovery has only given new ammunition to Republicans, many of whom have questioned whether Clinton received favorable treatment from the Department of Justice or misled Congress about her emails.

GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE has hammered Clinton over the controversy and over her family's charity, the Clinton Foundation. Earlier this week, he called for a special investigator to look into both matters.

Updated at 6:33 p.m.