Hillary Clinton received a New Year’s Eve gift when the State Department broke a judge’s order to release a batch of emails from her tenure as secretary of state.
Officials are blaming the holiday season for the State Department’s inability to release over 8,000 pages of emails on Thursday.
“We have worked diligently to come as close to the goal as possible, but with the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule we have not met the goal this month,” the State Department said in a statement released Thursday.
Roughly 5,500 of the Democratic Party presidential front-runner’s emails will be released instead.
The State Department has struggled to live up an order by Judge Rudolph Contreras in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold. Clinton eventually turned over 30,000 emails to the federal government when a congressional probe of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi terror attacks in Libya revealed her use of a private email server to conduct official business.
An FBI investigation is underway to determine whether Clinton’s decision to use a private server violated a subsection of the Espionage Act related to “gross negligence” in handling government documents. Clinton maintains she did nothing wrong, even though hundreds of documents that passed through the server were classified.
Extra scrutiny of Clinton’s emails has been fueled by discrepancies between her initial public statements on the Benghazi terror attack and her private messages.
In one email to “Diane Reynolds” on the night of the attack (a pseudonym used by Chelsea Clinton), the former secretary of state wrote, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al-Qaida-like group,” CNN reported Thursday. She then made a public statement linking the attack to outrage over an obscure YouTube video.
Clinton’s public comments came as President Obama was in a re-election campaign making claims al-Qaida was “on the run.”
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty died during the attacks.
Ohio Republican Jim Jordan grilled Clinton on her conflicting stories Oct. 22 during the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
“Where did the false narrative start? It started with you, Madame Secretary,” Jordan said, Townhall reported.
“I referred to the video that night in a very specific way,” Clinton replied. “I said some have sought to justify the attack because of the video. I used those words deliberately, not to ascribe a motive to every attacker but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks.”
The State Department vowed to release more of Clinton’s emails next week to make up for its failure to live up to Contreras’ order.
All of the Democrat front-runner’s emails are scheduled to be released by Jan. 29, 2016.