- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The emails of Huma Abedin, the top personal aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, are now facing a disclosure lawsuit after the State Department failed to turn them over in response to an open-records request.

Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that uses open-records laws to pry information loose, had filed a request to get a look at Ms. Abedin’s emails during her four years at the State Department. News outlets have reported that Ms. Abedin also used the private email server Mrs. Clinton set up to handle government business, but the status of her messages is unclear.

It’s one of a number of open-records requests Judicial Watch filed after the email scandal broke, and Tom Fitton, president of the organization, said they’ve been stonewalled on all of them, so now they’re turning to the courts.

“We’re churning through these,” he said. “The scandal at the State Department is more than about Hillary Clinton. There are others involved.”

The State Department said it wouldn’t comment now that Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit — though it had struggled to explain its procedures even before the lawsuit was filed, and the status is of Ms. Abedin’s emails remains unclear.

Mrs. Clinton has said she turned over about 30,000 emails from her server, and discarded another 32,000 messages she deemed unrelated to business. But it’s unclear whether the messages she turned over were hers alone, or whether they also included ones from Ms. Abedin’s account or other aides who were using the server for government business.

SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton vows to expand Obama amnesty

Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who exposed the private emails as part of his investigation into the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, has urged Mrs. Clinton to turn the server over to a neutral third party while questions get sorted out, but Mrs. Clinton has refused, saying she believes she has now complied with the law by finally going through and turning emails over.

The law at the time Mrs. Clinton was in office urged federal employees doing government business to use their official accounts, but said those who used personal accounts were required to forward all government-related messages to their official accounts for storage. Mrs. Clinton rejected using an official account and did not forward her messages, but after Mr. Gowdy’s inquiries the State Department asked her to belatedly turn her emails over.

The State Department has turned about 300 emails over to the Benghazi probe, but has refused to release the other tens of thousands of messages, saying it wants to process and clear them all at the same time, which will take months.

But the department has admitted in court that it was remiss in not searching the emails earlier, and has agreed to reopen some previous open-records requests from Judicial Watch that had sought Clinton emails.

Ms. Abedin, who is married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, has come under scrutiny for her time at the State Department. Mrs. Clinton designated her a special government employee, allowing her to collect a federal salary even as she also worked for an outside consulting company.

The department’s inspector general is looking into whether that arrangement was legal, since the designation is supposed to be used to lure workers with special skills into government service. Ms. Abedin was already a government employee when she was given the designation, and the State Department has yet to explain what skills she brought to earn the special status.

SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton agrees to testify before Benghazi committee on attacks, personal email

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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