- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The State Department is still struggling to hire enough staffers to review all of the open-records requests being filed for emails and other documents from former Secretary Hillary Clinton and her top aides, the department acknowledged in a court filing Monday night.

Department officials had promised U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras that they would try to hire 50 screeners by February but had just 35 on board as of the end of last week. It hired 39 in total, but four screeners have left the job, Benjamin C. Mizer, the principal deputy attorney general, said in court papers.

Of those 35, only 20 are reviewers with top-secret clearance eligible to screen the documents. The other 15 are able to only coordinate and help with the administrative side of things, but they cannot process documents — the major issue for the overworked department.

Mr. Mizer said the department plans to hire 10 more people, five of whom will be reviewers, to reach a total of 45 new staffers and 25 total new reviewers.

That is fewer than the 50 they promised the court last year.

Mrs. Clinton left office in early 2013, taking what she said were more than 60,000 messages she sent or received on her email server during her tenure.

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In late 2014, nearly two years after her departure, she returned about 32,000 messages to the government, saying they were official records that belonged in the files. She declined to turn over about 30,000 other messages she deemed private.

The State Department has now processed and released all of her messages it has in its possession that it says can be made public.

But a conservative law firm, Judicial Watch, has asked a judge to order the department to demand that Mrs. Clinton return the 30,000 messages she deemed private.

Judicial Watch, The Associated Press and others have filed requests seeking records of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides — some of whom, like their boss, used secret email addresses to conduct government business.

Those documents continue to strain the State Department’s open-records review process.

The Republican National Committee has filed several lawsuits accusing the Obama administration of slow-walking open-records requests in the run-up to November’s elections. The Republican National Committee has asked a federal court to order the department to speedily comply with requests.

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

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