A federal judge ordered the State Department on Tuesday to resume its search for emails and other records related to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans died.
D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the agency has not fulfilled its duty in properly searching for all relevant documents related to the attack in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans lost their lives.
Documents may include additional communication between Hillary 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,” according to the ruling.
The aides include Huma Abedin, former deputy chief of staff; Cheryl Mills, former chief of staff; and Jacob Sullivan, former director of policy planning.
The judge said while the State Department likely won’t be able to “adequately” produce emails sent from Clinton’s private email server while she served at the time as secretary of state, the agency “has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.”
Mehta also expressed doubt that a more thorough search of Clinton’s and top aides’ official State Department emails on the attack would “produce any marginal return” but required it regardless.
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, said the ruling is another victory in its efforts to obtain access to thousands of records related to the incident through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Hillary’s top aid’s emails were never searched in regards to Benghazi, which means Abedin lied in 2015 when she testified behind closed doors in the Benghazi hearings.
“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,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “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?”
Judicial Watch asked a federal court to compel the Trump State Department to undertake a thorough search of all emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the terrorist attack on Benghazi, including those of Clinton’s closest advisors. Judicial Watch also specifically asked the court to compel the agency to produce all records of communications between Clinton and top aide Jake Sullivan relating to Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the Sunday following the 2012 Benghazi massacre.
Judicial Watch first submitted a FOIA request shortly after news broke that Clinton had used an unofficial email server while serving as the head of the State Department in March 2015.
The group then filed suit against the agency two months later, after the State Department failed to respond to its request.
The State Department has until Sept. 22 to update the court on its additional search.