Judge Amit Mehta has ordered the State Department to search for additional Benghazi-related emails that may exist between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aides , Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills or Jake Sullivan at their state.gov addresses.
Mehta’s ruling is not likely to produce more emails directly from the Clinton server she set up in her New York home. Instead, the judge ordered the State Department to do a more thorough search of the email accounts within the department for the official government accounts for Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jacob Sullivan, who were aides to Clinton at the time.
He noted that “Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail server located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State.”
“The sole remaining dispute in this case is the adequacy of State’s search for responsive records,” Mehta wrote in his opinion and order, noting the State Department has argued the search through Clinton aides’ emails “is likely to be unfruitful.”
“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 in a statement Thursday. “It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall.”
Judge Amit Mehta, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, ruled that the State Department should search the state.gov emails as well, noting “this matter is a far cry from a typical FOIA case. 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.”
The judge has ordered a status report by September 22.
The order, signed Tuesday, came after conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch’s lawsuit for Benghazi emails.
The group argued that the State Department’s search of her emails wasn’t good enough, saying only external sources were searched — including the 30,000 emails turned over to the State Department by Clinton, FBI’s search of Clinton’s private email server and emails turned over by Mills, Abedin, and Sullivan.