A watchdog group sued Thursday to try to force the State Department to collect all of former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails from her time in government, saying the Obama administration broke the law by letting her keep them.
Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest legal organization, asked a federal court to order Mrs. Clinton’s successor, Secretary John F. Kerry, to go get the emails from her.
“Secretary Kerry is in coverup mode for Hillary Clinton,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
Mrs. Clinton, who during her four years as secretary kept her own email server in her New York home and issued herself her own email address separate from the department, belatedly turned over about 30,000 messages from her time in office. But she said she erased another 32,000 messages she deemed private, and wiped her server clean to ensure they couldn’t be recovered.
She said she complied with the law, which she said gave her the power to decide what messages were official records and what weren’t.
Judicial Watch, though, said that’s a decision Mr. Kerry should be making as the agency’s chief, since the records belong to the government, not to Mrs. Clinton.
The group said Mr. Kerry failed to report Mrs. Clinton’s unusual arrangement to the National Archivist, and said Mr. Kerry is breaking the law by not doing more to try to recover the emails now.
“Defendant Kerry’s failure to notify the Archivist concerning the unlawful removal of the Clinton emails and failure to initiate action through the attorney general to recover the Clinton emails constitutes a final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court of law,” Judicial Watch said in its complaint, filed in district court in Washington, D.C.
The State Department has been buffeted by legal complaints over its handling of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, including a case where a federal judge has insisted the department turn over all the messages on a rolling monthly basis.
Under that order, the next batch of 2,100 messages is due at the end of June, with 2,400 more by the end of July, 3,000 more in August, 3,600 in September, 4,200 in October, 4,500 in November, 4,800 in December and the final 5,400 or so in January.
A department spokesman said they will abide by the judge’s order.