The State Department wants an extra month to publicly release former Secretary Hillary Clinton's official emails
Among the reasons: the blizzard hitting Washington is delaying the ability to review the documents
After misplacing about 7,000 pages of documents for several months, the State Department is now asking a federal judge for more time to release former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, blaming the blizzard currently slamming Washington.
Lawyers for the department asked Judge Rudolph Contreras on Friday if State can release some of Clinton’s emails on February 29, one month after it was initially supposed to turn over the last of the documents. That would also result in many emails not becoming public until after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.
Contreras had ordered the State Department to stick to a monthly production schedule for the emails last May in response to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit brought by journalist Jason Leopold.
“Because the Clinton email team must perform its work onsite … this storm will disrupt the Clinton email team’s current plans to work a significant number of hours throughout the upcoming weekend and could affect the number of documents that can be produced on January 29, 2016,” State’s lawyers wrote.
Ryan James, a lawyer representing Leopold, told CNN Friday: “It’s baffling why State needs a month to make up for only three days of snow-related office closures.”
The final batch of emails include some of the most sensitive ones, such emails that have been flagged for further review by the intelligence community, which is involved in vetting the emails for public release, Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged.
Toner said State still plans to release documents next week as planned, but are not able to get all of the remaining emails – over 9,000 pages worth – out by that date.
“The production on January 29th will not meet the Court’s goal of producing the remaining emails from former Secretary Clinton,” Toner said, “but we will strive to produce as many documents as possible on that day. “
“Should this request for an extension be granted, the remainder of the approximately 55,000 pages would be posted in February,” he added.
The development comes just days after a leaked letter from the intelligence community’s inspector general revealed that “several dozen” of Clinton’s emails contain such information, but Toner denied there was a connection between those claims at the current delay.
“The cause of this delay is not due to any ongoing discussion about classification that has been in the news as of late,” he said.
Additional documents found for review
In its request for extension, the State Department’s lawyers say an oversight by their own reviewers is partially to blame for the delay, because a “number of pages” that required additional review by the interagency team were never actually sent out for review.
After discovering the issue, the filing says, they had to send 7,254 pages of emails to the “appropriate agencies.”
That delivery was then delayed once again, according to the filing, by the snowstorm that currently has the Washington area bunkered down, with federal agencies closing at noon on Friday.
The State Department now plans to finish delivering those documents “next week.”
Excluding these documents, the State Department says it will be able to release all other remaining emails – about 2,000 – by the original January 29 deadline.