Leon said he was determined to establish “what has been going on in the State Department for four years dragging their feet, not addressing these issues for four years.”

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Josh Gerstein on the Courts, Transparency, & More

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Judge slams State Department over Hillary Clinton-related records
By JOSH GERSTEIN 7/20/15 2:24 PM EDT
A federal judge is lashing out at the State Department for delaying for years in providing responses to Associated Press Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s schedules and her top staffers.

At a contentious hearing last week, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon demanded explanations for why some of the AP’s requests received no reply for four years or more before the wire service filed suit in March.

Leon said he was determined to establish “what has been going on in the State Department for four years dragging their feet, not addressing these issues for four years.”

“I want to find out what’s been going on over there. I should say, what’s not been going on over there,” the judge added. “The State Department, for reasons known only to itself … has been, to say the least, recalcitrant in responding.”

Justice Department lawyers representing State said a surge in FOIA requests caused large backlogs at the agency. They also said State is struggling with a wave of lawsuits since the disclosure in March that Clinton exclusively used a private email server during her service as secretary. In December, she returned 55,000 pages of emails at her former agency’s request.

DOJ lawyers Lisa Ann Olson and Marcia Berman said the agency was prioritizing the public release of the 55,000 pages of emails in response to another judge’s order requiring monthly releases of those records.

However, Leon accused Olson of responding with “convoluted gobbledygook” when she insisted that the State Department’s processing of those emails would satisfy the AP’s request for records about Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin’s transition to a special part-time position at State.

“The State Department … can’t say it has done a thorough search until it reviews all 55,000 pages of documents,” Olson said.

“What you just said, Ms. Olson, made no sense,” the judge replied. “You’re failing to distinguish between documents created by the State Department independently of Hillary Clinton’s emails — with Hillary Clinton’s emails. And you’re giving me some kind of convoluted gobbledygook. about how the emails contain within them the independently created documents relating to Huma Abedin’s appointment as a special government counsel. …That is nonsensical.”

Olson noted that the AP request about Abedin did seek Clinton’s emails on that topic. However, the request also sought all other records or correspondence as well.

A transcript of the hearing suggests Leon gre


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