The State Department broke a judge’s order on the number of former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails it was supposed to release Thursday, blaming the holiday season for throwing it off track.
The department promised another release of emails next week to make up for its breach, and said even the emails it was releasing Thursday will not be fully processed and won’t be able to be sorted by senders or recipients in the department’s computer system.
“We have worked diligently to come as close to the goal as possible, but with the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule we have not met the goal this month. To narrow that gap, the State Department will make another production of former Secretary Clinton’s email sometime next week,” the department said in a statement.
It’s the latest embarrassment for the department, which has repeatedly struggled to handle the more than 30,000 emails Mrs. Clinton returned to the government nearly two years after she left office.
The department is under a federal court order to release emails every month since the summer, but broke the order by missing the first deadline under that order. It had caught up, but has now fallen behind again.
All told, some 5,500 pages of documents will be released later Thursday. It’s not clear yet how many actual individual emails that works out to, since many of them span multiple pages.
Under the court order, the government is supposed to release 4,800 full emails this month. The final 5,400 emails are to be released near the end of next month — just days before Iowa voters hold the caucuses that kick off the primary season, deciding whether Mrs. Clinton will be Democrats’ presidential nominee.
She belatedly returned her emails after the Obama administration, prodded by Congress’s probe into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, realized she had taken all of her messages with her when she left office. The administration then publicly revealed that Mrs. Clinton had refused to use a regular account on the State.gov email server, instead creating an account on a server she kept at her home in New York.
Hundreds of the messages she returned contain information that has now been deemed classified — though Mrs. Clinton insists it was not secret at the time she sent it. She says she didn’t break any laws in keeping her own account.