Law & the Courts

Federal Judge: Clinton ‘Violated Government Policy’

A federal judge declared today that Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private server and e-mail account for government work “violated government policy,” contrary to the Democratic frontrunner’s claims.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan presided over a hearing Thursday afternoon meant to determine whether the State Department was sufficiently forthcoming about Clinton’s e-mails and e-mail policies. “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy,” Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, said at the hearing. “There was a violation of government policy.”

That assessment contradicts Clinton’s repeated insistence that she “fully complied with every rule” when she conducted her government work exclusively on a private e-mail account. She subsequently provided the State Department with 30,000 pages of messages that her team had deemed work-related, while withholding the rest of the messages housed on the server.  

“For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work related,” Clinton told reporters in March. “I went above and beyond what I was requested to do.”

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Sullivan scheduled the hearing at the request of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that filed multiple Freedom of Information Act lawsuits requesting Clinton’s records, after the State Department said that FOIA law did not require them to search her private server. “The Department does not believe that a reasonable search for records responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA request requires a search of former Secretary Clinton’s server,” administration officials wrote in a status report to the judge.

Sullivan rejected that position today. “The State Department is hereby ordered to request that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) inform it about any information recovered from Mrs. Clinton’s server and the related thumb drive that is: (a) potentially relevant to the FOIA request at issue in this case; and (b) not already in the State Department’s possession,” he wrote.

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated since its initial posting.

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