A federal judge has ordered a new search of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi emails, nine months after the Democrat lost the 2016 election.
US District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the State Department hasn’t done enough to track down emails Ms Clinton may have sent out related to the 2012 Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead. The new directive asks for a review of emails received or sent to Ms Clinton's by aides using State Department servers.
The US ambassador to Libya at the time, Chris Stevens, was one of those killed.
Before the recent ruling, the State Department had searched tens of thousands of emails handed over to the agency by Ms Clinton and three of her top aides. The State Department also searched a trove of emails the FBI had assembled when it investigated Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server who serving as secretary of State.
But conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch argued that those efforts weren’t enough. They urged the federal judiciary to force the State Department to search its own stems for relevant emails that may have been sent to state.gov email addresses.
The first search found 348 Benghazi-related emails sent in the five months following the attack.
“To date, State has searched only data compilations originating from outside sources — Secretary Clinton, her former aides, and the FBI. ... It has not, however, searched 8 the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov e-mail server,” Mr Mehta wrote in his 10-page ruling.
“If Secretary Clinton sent an e-mail about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her state.gov e-mail address, or if one of them sent an e-mail to Secretary Clinton using his or her state.gov account, then State’s server presumably would have captured and stored such an e-mail. Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records,” he continued.
It is not clear if the State Department archived emails sent from Ms Clinton’s top aides regularly or reliably.
The issue of Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server, and her handling of the Benghazi attack, dogged her throughout her 2016 presidential campaign. Although investigators never concluded that Ms Clinton had done anything illegal, Republicans repeatedly attacked her for her emails, raising suspicions of foul play and conspiracy.