Court reminds State to produce Clinton emails in ‘shortest’ time possible

Court reminds State to produce Clinton emails in ‘shortest’ time possible

An appeals court gently warned the State Department on Friday to release relevant public documents quickly from among the large batch of emails Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Trump: 'So sad' Democrats are putting Hope Hicks 'through hell' MORE turned over to the agency from her private server. 

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled the best way to handle a Freedom of Information Act case involving the emails would be to send it back to the district court, which will determine the “most efficient way to proceed under FOIA.”

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“In doing so, we remind the State Department that, although it may choose of its own accord to release the emails to the public at large, it has a statutory duty to search for and produce documents responsive to FOIA requests ‘in the shortest amount of time,’ ” the three-judge panel wrote. 

A controversy engulfed Clinton earlier this year when it was revealed she used a private email account during her time as secretary of State. She handed over about 55,000 pages of emails to the department last year, but she also deleted about 30,000 that she said were personal. 

Clinton, who has since launched a presidential bid, has asked the State Department to release the batch of emails she turned over publicly. The agency is sorting through the emails for potential redactions in process it says could take months. 

In the meantime, outside groups have argued their previous Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department were incomplete because they lacked Clinton’s emails. 

The Justice Department has argued the quickest way for the FOIA requests involving Clinton’s emails to be satisfied is for the State Department to finish its review of the entire trove and post “them on a State Department website.” Lawyers argued it would be “considerably more efficient than reviewing the documents piecemeal in response to subject-specific FOIA requests.”

The ruling Friday involves a case brought by the conservative group Freedom Watch. The group requested documents from the State Department and other agencies related to a 2012 leak of information that implicated the U.S. in an operation crippling Iranian nuclear centrifuges with a virus called Stuxnet. 

Freedom Watch wanted to know who in the government leaked the information to The New York Times

During oral arguments earlier this month, Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman argued Clinton’s personal server should be turned over and also wanted conditions imposed on the State Department so the records request did not drag on for months.