A federal judge has ordered the State Department to search government email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s aides for information concerning the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks that took the lives of four Americans.
Washington D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ordered the State Department on Tuesday to search government email accounts belonging to Clinton former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, former chief of staff Cheryl Mills and former director of policy planning Jake Sullivan. The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit filed by government watchdog Judicial Watch.
The accounts are expected to contain communications between Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, and her staff.
“The court finds that State’s search was inadequate insofar as it did not search the official state.gov e-mail accounts of Secretary Clinton’s three aides, and orders State to conduct a supplemental search of those accounts,” the ruling stated.
Judge Mehta explained that the State Department is unlikely able to “adequately” access emails sent from Clinton’s private server. However, he said, the department “has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.”
Judge Mehta expressed his concern that a thorough State Department search of the official emails may not “produce any marginal return.”
The State Department has reviewed more than 30,000 emails Clinton surrendered to the agency in 2014, as well as emails sent and received on personal accounts belonging to the three aides.
“Secretary Clinton used a private email server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State,” Judge Mehta said.
“[State] has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov email server.”
The judge also said the department “has offered no assurance” that emails it collected from Clinton and her three aides “constitute the entirely of Secretary Clinton’s emails during the time period relevant to Plaintiff’s FOIA request.”
Judicial Watch celebrated the judge’s order.
“This major court ruling may finally result in more answers about the Benghazi scandal — and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it — as we approach the attack’s fifth anniversary,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
“It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall. Why are Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions wasting taxpayer dollars protecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration?”
The State Department must submit its findings to the court by Sept. 22.
As WND reported, Clinton was secretary of state as Islamic militants attacked the U.S. special mission in Benghazi, Libya, and murdered U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management officer Sean Smith. Two CIA contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were also killed.
In the months leading up to the attack, Hillary’s State Department cut security in Libya. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., accused Hillary of “dereliction of duty” that led to the deaths of the four Americans.
“The State Department not only failed to honor repeated requests for additional security, but instead actually reduced security in Libya,” Johnson wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Although no one can say with certainty, I firmly believe a relatively small contingent of armed military guards would have prevented the attack, and those four lives would not have been lost.”
As WND reported, a security decision finalized personally by Hillary may have unwittingly doomed the Americans in Benghazi. Hillary herself signed waivers that allowed the facility to be legally occupied, since it did not meet the minimum official security standards set by the State Department. The waiver legally allowed the CIA annex to be housed in a location about one mile from the U.S. special mission.
According to accounts from Benghazi survivors, the delayed response time by those at the CIA annex may have cost the lives of Stevens and the three other Americans killed at the special mission. If the CIA annex had been co-located with the U.S. special mission, a rapid response team would have been on site during the initial assault in which Stevens was killed. Clinton’s waiver allowed the CIA annex to be housed at the separate location.
Judicial Watch has obtained previously classified documents from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of State revealing that DOD almost immediately reported that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was planned and carried out by al-Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood-linked terrorists. A federal court ordered the government hand over more than 100 pages of previously secret documents that showed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior Obama officials were given reports within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. In those memos, the DOD described details of a plan 10 days in advance “to kill as many Americans as possible.”