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State Department To Release Hillary Clinton Emails By January 2016


It was only a matter of time before Hillary Clinton's emails were back in the news. That happened today because a federal judge told the State Department it needs to hurry up and release them. And then the former secretary herself weighed in, too. Last year, when Clinton's team first delivered the printed archive of what she sent as secretary of state from her private server, all that paper filled a dozen boxes - 55,000 pages. NPR's Tamara Keith has the latest.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: January 2016 - that's when the State Department official charged with handling public records requests says the department will be ready to release Hillary Clinton's emails. For those who don't have a political calendar embedded in your brain, that's just days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

TOM BLANTON: The State Department just is not doing Mrs. Clinton any favors.

KEITH: Tom Blanton is director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University and an advocate for saving and releasing all sorts of public records.

BLANTON: They've had these emails for - what? - almost seven months now, and they are still not ahead of the curve. They could've reviewed them already by now. They're not classified. This should not be rocket science.

KEITH: That seems to be what a federal judge is saying, too. At a hearing today, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras told the State Department he wants it to release the emails on a rolling basis, rather than in one big dump early next year. Jeff Rathke is a State Department spokesman.


JEFF RATHKE: Of course, we take our legal obligations seriously. We'll comply with the order.

KEITH: The State Department had already planned to release about 300 emails related to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, separately and sooner, but Rathke isn't saying when. The issue of emails has been dogging Clinton ever since it was revealed that she used a private email server to conduct official business. The candidate was in Iowa today to talk about policies aimed at helping small businesses. And for the first time in nearly a month, she took questions from reporters.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: OK, are you all ready?

KEITH: The questions included one about whether she would call on the State Department to hurry up its release of her emails.


CLINTON: I have said publically - I am repeating it here in front of all of you today - I want them out as soon as they can get out.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But will you demand it? Will you demand it?

CLINTON: Well, it's - they're not mine. They belong to the State Department. So the State Department has to go through its process, but as much as it can expedite that process, that's what I'm asking them to do.

KEITH: There's a reason she wants them to hurry up. The longer it takes, the longer she's going to keep getting asked about her emails. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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