New Clinton emails to be released as report criticizes State Dept. on records requests


    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands on stage at the Battle Born Battleground First in the West Caucus Dinner, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

    The State Department planned to release an additional 2,900 pages of former Secretary Hillary Clinton's emails Thursday as the agency's inspector general blasted its history of inaccurate and delayed responses to public records requests.

    As of 6:30 p.m. ET, the new messages had not yet been posted, but the documents will be the latest of thousands of emails made public from the private server that Clinton used while she was secretary of state. The State Department has been ordered by a federal court to release more than 30,000 work-related emails from Clinton's account by the end of January.

    Thursday's planned release of documents comes after the State Department failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to produce 82% of Clinton's emails by December 31. In a statement last week, the agency blamed the delay on the amount of documents involved and the holidays.

    Clinton has faced scrutiny for her use of the private account, and the FBI is investigation into whether classified information was mishandled in connection with it. Clinton initially stated that she sent and received no classified information via email, but she now says that nothing was marked as classified at the time.

    Including 45 emails in the new batch, more than 1,300 of the released messages have been redacted so far due to information that is now deemed classified. The intelligence community's inspector general has indicated that at least two messages may have included top secret information when they were sent.

    The private email account has been an ongoing political problem for Clinton since it was revealed early last year. Her attorneys deleted thousands of emails they deemed to be private before turning over 55,000 pages of work-related messages.

    Clinton claimed she used the account for convenience, but she has since admitted it was a mistake and apologized to the public for it. Polls show that a majority of voters believe she did something wrong, although investigators have not accused her of any wrongdoing at this point.

    The thousands of emails released so far have not provided much substantial new information about the work of Clinton and her staff. They have shed some light on communications surrounding the Benghazi attacks and Clinton's relationship with Democratic Party donors while in office, but many have focused on minute details of her life, technological problems, and praise from her friends.

    The final batch of emails is scheduled to be released on January 29.

    A new report released Thursday details how the State Department provided "inaccurate" responses to some public records requests, including at least one related to Clinton's emails, and rarely met statutory deadlines for processing requests.

    The report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) indicates frequent failures to meet legal and regulatory requirements in responding to public records requests. In 2014, the State Department took an average of 91 days to process simple requests and 535 days to process complex requests, more than four times longer than the average for the government overall.

    The delays have been particularly extreme for requests involving the secretary's office. There were 177 pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests involving Secretary Clinton, as of June 2015. Requests relating to other previous secretaries were also behind schedule, including 10 pending requests regarding former Secretary Colin Powell that were at least five years old.

    According to the report, a lack of staff to process requests had been cited as a key reason for delays in 2012, but the number of staffers processing FOIA requests was reduced further since then. The report also found that the agency did not have written policies and procedures for handling FOIA requests and did not always search email records for responsive documents unless specifically requested.

    While the report cites widespread inefficiency and inaccuracy in responding to FOIA requests, it notes several requests specifically involving Clinton's records that were mishandled.

    Years before Clinton's use of a private email address was known by the public, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested records in 2012 that would show email addresses associated with Clinton. Despite the fact that dozens of senior officials were communicating with Clinton on her private accounts, the department responded that there were no relevant records.

    According to the report, Clinton's chief of staff was notified of the request, but there was no indication that she or other senior officials reviewed the search results or response. There was also no evidence that the employees who handled the request knew of Clinton's private accounts. However, it also appeared that staff had not searched email records, even though the request included them.

    In another case, the Associated Press requested copies of Clinton's public and private schedules in 2010, but the request was left dormant for years. The AP eventually had to resubmit the request in 2013 and file a lawsuit in 2015 to get a response that included 4,400 paper and electronic records.

    The report calls for assigning more staff to the FOIA workforce, searching email records in response to all requests, developing written policies and training programs, and creating a quality assurance plan. The State Department responded that efforts are underway to address each of those recommendations.

    A Clinton campaign spokesman told the Washington Post that the State Department's FOIA process was already in place when Clinton took office and she and her staff followed that process.

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