- The Washington Times
Monday, August 22, 2016

The Obama administration acknowledged Monday that the FBI found at least 14,900 more email messages former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never turned over to the government, and officials are facing intense pressure to release them ahead of November’s election.

A federal judge ordered the State Department to speed up the process, and the Republican National Committee said the administration should strive to release an initial set of the secret emails within a month, or when the first states conduct early voting.

The existence of the emails marks yet more trouble for Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, who insisted she turned over all of her work-related messages in December 2014.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, issued subpoenas Monday demanding answers from three technology companies that helped set up or maintain Mrs. Clinton’s unique email arrangement and demanding to know what kind of security she took to prevent hacks.

Another part of Mrs. Clinton’s email story — that former Secretary Colin L. Powell gave her the idea of using a secret account — also crumbled after Mr. Powell disputed it. He said he sent Mrs. Clinton a memo a year after she took office, meaning she couldn’t have been relying on his suggestion.

“Her people have been trying to pin it on me,” Mr. Powell said, according to the New York Post and People magazine, who caught up with him at a social function in New York over the weekend.

SEE ALSO: New emails show Clinton Foundation asked Huma Abedin for favors at State Dept.

Mrs. Clinton refused to use an official State Department email account during her four years in office. Instead, she conducted all of her business, including sending classified emails, from an account tied to a server she kept at her New York home. That arrangement effectively thwarted open-records laws and shielded her communications from the public for more than six years.

State Department officials said they would try to work through the newly discovered messages as quickly as possible, but their initial timeline meant the first disclosure wouldn’t be until the middle of October.

Judge James E. Boasberg rejected that estimate Monday and ordered a faster schedule, saying the State Department has one month to appraise the first 14,900 emails and must report back by Sept. 23 on how it will release them.

Some critics fear the Obama administration may try to slow the process and push the release of most of the messages past the November election.

“If they wanted the records out quickly, they’d be out quickly. If they don’t want the records out quickly, they’ll let politics intrude on the process and the American people won’t see them until Election Day,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which sued to get a look at all of Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner couldn’t explain why the nearly 15,000 messages were coming to light now, after Mrs. Clinton assured federal judges that she had turned over all of her work-related messages.

The 14,900 messages are on one disk in a set of eight that the FBI turned over to the State Department last month, after the law enforcement agency completed a yearlong probe into Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

Among the other seven disks are one containing what has been described as “classified” material and another containing the 30,000 or so messages Mrs. Clinton did turn back to the Obama administration in December 2014. The contents of the remaining five disks are unclear, though the Obama administration says the set contains a lot of emails.

“There are tens of thousands,” Lisa A. Olson, a Justice Department lawyer handling the case for the State Department, told Judge Boasberg.

For now, the first disk is the focus of Judicial Watch, the State Department and the judge, because all 14,900 of its emails are among those Mrs. Clinton didn’t turn over. Some of them may be personal — the messages about her yoga schedule or her daughter’s wedding plans — that Mrs. Clinton mentioned last year.

But FBI Director James B. Comey also has said thousands are work-related. They were obtained from Mrs. Clinton’s server and various email devices she used.

The State Department said it will finish “ingesting” all eight disks’ contents this week and then will appraise the contents. After that, it will know the total number of documents and have a general idea of what is on them, and then it must process them, redacting private or protected information and asking other agencies to weigh in on potentially classified material.

Ms. Olson originally said the State Department would have an update in October and begin releasing documents on Oct. 14, with releases to follow on Oct. 21, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 — each of the Fridays preceding the Nov. 8 election. The releases would likely continue well after the election.

Judge Boasberg, though, said the department can work faster by focusing on the first disk’s emails. He said they will set a schedule when they meet next month.

The Republican National Committee insisted that the schedule be expedited so the first emails are released as early voting begins in the states near the end of September. It said all of the messages should be released before Election Day.

It’s unclear what sort of information will be found on the newly discovered emails or whether any of them contain classified information.

The FBI concluded that Mrs. Clinton was negligent in handling classified information on her server but doubted a criminal case could be made because the former senator, first lady and top diplomat was not “sophisticated” enough to understand the information she was looking at or the risks she was running with the technology.

Mr. Smith, the science committee chairman, issued subpoenas Monday to three tech companies that helped with Mrs. Clinton’s email. He said the companies were defying his requests for information.

The companies were Datto, Inc., which handled the backup of Mrs. Clinton’s server; Secnap Network Security Corp., which sold a threat monitoring application for Mrs. Clinton’s server after she left the State Department; and Platte River Networks, which helped run the server.

Mr. Smith said Secnap and Datto refused to cooperate voluntarily, insisting they needed permission of their client first. Meanwhile the attorney for Platte River ducked attempts to communicate with him, Mr. Smith said.

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., a Virginia Democrat who serves on the science committee, called the subpoenas “a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars … for blatantly partisan purposes.”

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

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