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New Clinton e-mails to be reviewed for link to Benghazi attack
[WASHINGTON] A federal judge gave the US State Department one week to tell him how many of 30 newly discovered e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server relate to the 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and how soon they can be made public.
US District Judge Amit Mehta issued that order Tuesday at a Washington federal court hearing in a 2015 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch Inc.
The group had demanded State Department records related to the incident, in which four Americans were killed including the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. The e-mails were recovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Mrs Clinton has been trying to move past the issue as her race for the White House against Republican nominee Donald Trump heads into the final two months before the Nov 8 election.
The US has already produced 343 documents related to the raid, according to an Aug 23 filing by the government telling Judge Mehta it wanted to turn over qualifying papers found by the FBI starting Sept 30 and wrapping up by Oct 31.
Lawyers for the watchdog group objected to that timetable, prompting the court hearing.
The FBI recovered thousands of documents from Mrs Clinton's private e-mail servers during its investigation of the Democratic presidential nominee's use of that system for official business.
The probe concluded with bureau director James B Comey recommending the Justice Department file no charges in the matter, which was subsequently closed.
Some of those 30 messages may be duplicative of the more than 52,000 pages already made public in other FOIA cases, Justice Department lawyer Robert Prince told Judge Mehta in court, asking for time to determine how many of those remaining could be released. That number could be fewer than 10, he said.
After Judicial Watch lawyer Ramona Cotca pressed for details, Judge Mehta ordered the government to file a report with the court by Sept 6, disclosing precisely how many previously documents fall under Judicial Watch's demand and a schedule for their release.
"The Department agreed to search the materials we received from the FBI in response to several pending FOIA requests and, to the extent responsive records are identified, produce them," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in an e-mailed statement.
"Using broad search terms, we have identified approximately 30 documents potentially responsive to a Benghazi-related request. At this time, we have not confirmed that the documents are, in fact, responsive, or whether they are duplicates of materials already provided to the Department by former Secretary Clinton in December 2014."