Federal Appeals Court Revives Clinton Email Lawsuit

Hillary Clinton's Underground Communications Center by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

Back in January, an Obama appointed federal judge threw out a couple of lawsuits that were trying to make a recalcitrant State Department actually obey federal Freedom of Information laws rather than defend Hillary Clinton.


A federal judge has dismissed a pair of lawsuits aimed at forcing the government to act more aggressively to recover emails that Hillary Clinton kept on a private server while serving as secretary of state.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the suits filed by two conservative organizations are moot because the State Department and the National Archives have done all they are legally required to do to obtain messages pertaining to her four-year tenure as America’s top diplomat.

“Defendants have taken a number of significant corrective steps to recover Clinton’s emails,” Boasberg wrote in a 17-page order tossing out the suits.

The judge noted that Clinton turned over approximately 55,000 pages of messages to the State Department at its request last December and that the agency took steps to secure electronic copies of the records. Those copies now appear to be in the possession of the FBI. State has asked the FBI to preserve those electronic files.

Those and other steps are good enough, the judge said.

“These are hardly the actions of a recalcitrant agency head or an uncooperative Archivist. Rather, they reflect a sustained effort on the part of State and NARA, after the agencies had learned of the potential removal of federal records from the government’s possession, to recover and preserve all of those records” Boasberg wrote. “Taken together, all of the recovery efforts initiated by both agencies up to the present day cannot in any way be described as a dereliction of duty. In light of this, Plaintiffs cannot establish an ongoing injury actionable under the [Federal Records Act]; as such, their cases are moot.”


Yesterday, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the judge could not only not read the federal statute but had improperly short circuited the process.

A three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday that a lower court judge erred when he threw out the cases as moot after the State Department received tens of thousands of emails from Clinton and more from the FBI following the criminal investigation it conducted.

Watchdog groups Judicial Watch and Cause of Action filed separate suits in 2015, asking that Secretary of State John Kerry and the head of the National Archives, Archivist David Ferriero, be required to refer the Clinton email issue to the Justice Department to consider filing a civil suit to get missing federal records back.

D.C. Circuit Judge Stephen Williams said State’s requests to Clinton and the FBI for copies of Clinton’s emails were not necessarily enough to fulfill State’s obligation to pursue any missing messages.

“Even though those efforts bore some fruit, the Department has not explained why shaking the tree harder — e.g., by following the statutory mandate to seek action by the Attorney General — might not bear more still. It is therefore abundantly clear that, in terms of assuring government recovery of emails, appellants have not ‘been given everything [they] asked for,'” Williams wrote in the court’s opinion, joined by Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Robert Wilkins. “Absent a showing that the requested enforcement action could not shake loose a few more emails, the case is not moot.”


This is going to turn out to be one of those many cases where Obama’s toadies and Hillary’s enablers, to the extent they aren’t the same group, are going to be revealed as having been too clever by half. If State had obeyed the law, Loretta Lynch would have overseen document production. By delaying it, Jeff Sessions will assuming the new Secretary of State doesn’t just give the plaintiffs what they want.


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