The State Department has sought to delay the court-ordered release of emails between four of Hillary Clinton’s top aides and officials at the Clinton Foundation and a closely associated public relations firm.
The motion, filed in federal court by the Justice Department late Wednesday, seeks to put off the release of the emails by 27 months. It was first reported on by The Daily Caller.
In the filing, the State Department says it originally estimated that approximately 6,000 emails and other documents were exchanged between the aides — identified as former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs, former Ambassador-At-Large Melanne Verveer, Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin — and the Clinton Foundation and Teneo Holdings, a communications shop that former President Bill Clinton helped launch.
However, the State Department said that due to errors in the initial document search, the number of “potentially responsive documents” was in fact more than 34,000. The department estimated that it had more than 13,000 pages still left to review.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras had previously ordered the State Department to release the requested documents by July 21.
If the State Department request is granted, the emails would not be released until October 2018, nearly halfway through the first term of a potential Hillary Clinton presidency. The documents are being sought by the conservative nonprofit group Citizens United.
“The American people have a right to see these emails before the election,” Citizens United President David Bossie told The Daily Caller, adding that the delay was “totally unacceptable.”
The motion was filed two days after Attorney General Loretta Lynch met Bill Clinton at the Phoenix airport. Lynch denied the meeting was anything other than a chance encounter, but Republicans and Democrats have criticized her for at least creating the appearance of a conflict of interest in the midst of a federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s time as America’s top diplomat.
On Thursday, State Department spokesman John Kirby cited a surge in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in explaining the State Department extension request.
“The Department handles FOIA in an entirely nonpartisan manner,” Kirby said.
The former secretary of state has come under scrutiny over whether she used her position to aid corporate and foreign government donors to the Clinton Foundation.
In addition, Abedin worked as an employee at Teneo while simultaneously working at the State Department while Mills held a position at the Clinton Foundation while also serving in the State Department. Both matters have been flagged by Congress as possible conflicts of interest.