More than 30,000 emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to turn over to the government when she left office may become public, thanks to a joint opening brief filed by Judicial Watch and the Cause of Action (CoA) Institute in U.S. Appeals Court in the District of Columbia Monday.
The two non-profit government watchdogs argued in the brief that Department of State officials violated the Federal Records Act by failing to collect and preserve all of Clinton’s emails. She conducted official business using a private email account and a private server located in her New York home. The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of Clinton’s email practice.
Clinton turned over paper copies of 30,490 work-related emails to the State Department, but held back another 31,830 emails, declared personal by her lawyer, the brief claims. State Department officials violated the Federal Records Act (FRA) by failing to collect and preserve those emails, the brief argues.
The lawsuit specifically names Clinton’s successor Secretary of State John Kerry, and Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, as defendants in their official capacities.
“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not preserve her emails in accordance with the law and the State Department should be held accountable,” said former federal judge and CoA President and CEO Alfred J. Lechner Jr., in a statement.
“Evidence shows that the email Mrs. Clinton belatedly returned to the State Department is an incomplete set. Through its appeal, the Cause of Action Institute seeks to compel Secretary Kerry and NARA (National Archives and Record Administration) to recover all of Mrs. Clinton’s email records in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”
CoA initially filed its complaint July 8, 2015, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. That federal court dismissed the suit because the State Department planned on releasing 55,000 Clinton emails.
That isn’t nearly enough, CoA and Judicial Watch argue.
“To summarize, (1) plaintiffs are suffering an ongoing injury-in-fact by being unable to access records to which they have a right under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act); (2) the inability to access those records is caused by the unlawful removal of records from State Department custody and the failure of defendants to recover all such unlawfully removed records; and (3) federal courts are empowered under the FRA to provide the relief plaintiffs require to redress their injury by requiring defendants to initiate action through the attorney general for the complete recovery of the unlawfully removed records,” the brief says.
“The lower court erred in finding that it did not have subject-matter jurisdiction and its judgement must be reversed.”
The State Department Office of Inspector General (IG) in May reported that Clinton failed to comply with State Department policies and federal law when she failed to preserve all of her emails at State.
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