The federal judge handling the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch said Thursday that Hillary Clinton violated government policy by using a private email server. He also ordered the State Department to confer with the FBI and Department of Justice to find out if those agencies had recovered any additional Clinton emails from the server and a thumb drive that was turned over by her attorney earlier this month.
“We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy,” U.S. District Court judge Emmet Sullivan said in court on Thursday, according to Politico.
Sullivan has grown increasingly testy with the lawyers for the federal government over its failure to provide timely answers to questions about the off-the-books email system used by Clinton and several of her top aides.
Judicial Watch is suing for records pertaining to a special employment status granted to Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. The State Department initially denied Judicial Watch’s FOIA request for emails about Abedin’s work arrangement, but the watchdog group filed a lawsuit after it was revealed that Clinton, Abedin and other aides used private email accounts hosted on Clinton’s private email server to conduct State Department business.
“There was a violation of government policy,” Sullivan told Justice Department attorney Peter Wechsler, according to Politico. The lawyer tried to argue that the government had no recourse to search Clinton’s private emails.
“We’re not talking about a search of anyone’s random email,” Sullivan said.
Clinton has maintained that she did not violate any laws or federal regulations by using a personal email account and a private server.
She has also claimed that she has turned over all of her work-related emails — 55,000 pages worth — to the State Department. By urging the State Department to reach out to the FBI, Sullivan’s order could potentially test that claim if more emails are discovered.
It has already been determined that Clinton failed to turn over at least 15 emails discussing State Department matters. That discovery was made only after Clinton’s longtime friend, Sidney Blumenthal, provided his email correspondence to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
An IT company Clinton hired in 2013 gave her email server to the FBI earlier this month after it was discovered that two emails that traversed it contained “top secret” information. Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, also handed over three thumb drives to the FBI that contained Clinton’s emails.