- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2015

The State Department has the equivalent of 22 full-time employees designated to processing former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails, the Obama administration told a federal court Friday, detailing the extraordinary efforts it is making to try to handle the legal tangle Mrs. Clinton left behind.

And the department has no plans to make all of the emails from Mrs. Clinton’s top aides public, the administration said. Instead, they will search and release specific emails deemed responsive to specific open-records requests, Justice Department lawyer Robert J. Prince told Judge Rudolph Contreras at a hearing called to find out how the review is going.

Mrs. Clinton’s messages have all been scanned and are being processed, but the messages of her top aides, who also used personal email accounts to do government business, are taking longer.

Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s top personal aide, finally returned her documents only last week, Mr. Prince said.

Mr. Prince couldn’t say how long it will take to scan in her messages, nor those of other top aides Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reins, who have also belatedly provided their government-business emails back to the department.

Mr. Reins turned over 20 boxes of emails, which Mr. Prince said in volume accounts for more than the 55,000 pages, spread across nearly 32,000 messages, that Mrs. Clinton turned back to the government.

“There’s already an enormous level of resources dedicated to this case,” Mr. Prince said.

The State Department is has even put out a call for managers to volunteer employees to be detailed to the open-records searches to help go through Clinton emails — though that program is not yet up and running, Mr. Prince said. Judge Contreras seemed skeptical, saying that managers aren’t usually willing to part with their best employees, so he questioned the quality of volunteers who would join the effort.

The 22 employees currently designated to the Clinton email effort account for more than half of the open-records division’s manpower.

Judge Contreras has ordered the State Department to produce all of the Clinton emails on a rolling basis through January and said he’s likely to impose a schedule for searching her aides’ emails that is faster than the State Department wants, but not as fast as the plaintiff, journalist Jason Leopold, would want.

Judge Contreras also signaled he will refuse to halt the case, as the Obama administration has asked, as it seeks to consolidate the more than 30 open-records cases trying to pry loose the emails from Mrs. Clinton and her aides. And the judge said that consolidation request is “unlikely to be successful.”

“I’m not going to be, in the short run, staying anything,” the judge said.

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