Clinton facing 'a rolling headache' of email releases
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
A federal judge yesterday ordered the US state department to produce a schedule for the release of Hillary Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of state, a legal move that could complicate her presidential campaign.
A lawyer in the case, Jeffrey Light, said that US district court judge Rudolph Contreras ordered the state department to come up with a timetable by next week for the rolling release of the 55,000 pages of emails.
The judge also told the state department to present a schedule by next week for releasing 300 Clinton emails related to US operations in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans, including the US ambassador, were killed in a 2012 attack, Mr Light said.
Ms Clinton, the frontrunner for the nomination to represent the Democratic Party in the November 2016 presidential election, yesterday called for the state department to release the emails as soon as possible.
"Anything that they might do to expedite that process I heartily support," the former first lady and US senator told reporters at a campaign event in Cedar Falls, Iowa. "I want them out as soon as they can get out."
Ms Clinton has come under criticism for storing and sending emails related to her official duties via a private server based in her house in New York state. She has turned over the emails to the state department.
Republican foes in Congress have accused Ms Clinton of excessive secrecy by using a personal email server for messages she sent and received as America's top diplomat.
Republicans want the emails to be released soon to cast more light on Ms Clinton's term as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, a time when the United States struggled to reset relations with Russia and develop a strategy for Syria's civil war.
While her foes are particularly interested in emails about Benghazi, several congressional probes have found no "smoking gun" linking her to any failure to protect the Americans who were killed.
Releasing the emails in batches over time, as requested by the judge, could give Ms Clinton's opponents on the campaign trail multiple chances to attack her.
"I would call it a rolling headache because she's going to have to respond to these each time they come out," said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson.
The state department had said on Monday it might need until January to finish a review and release the emails.
Ms Clinton has said she used a private email account because it was more convenient for her. She has also said that while she should have used a separate government email account, she violated no rules.
Meanwhile, US senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said he intends to "responsibly extend" this week the provisions of the USA Patriot Act due to expire on June 1. The provisions underpin the programme in which US spy agencies collect vast amount of data about Americans' phone calls.
Members of congress have been debating whether to extend the programme for two months or five years, allow it to expire or pass reforms.
Mr McConnell has said he would like to extend the programme, as is, through 2020. But facing stiff resistance from many lawmakers, including some of his fellow Republicans as well as many Democrats, he introduced a measure last week that would extend the Patriot Act provisions for two months.