By Julian Hattem - 02-26-16 06:00 AM EST
All of the roughly 30,000 personal emails Hillary Clinton claimed to have deleted from her private email server will eventually be reviewed by the government — and many will be made public, according to a top legal adversary of Clinton.
“They’re all going to get reviewed eventually, despite Mrs. Clinton’s resistance,” Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative legal watchdog organization Judicial Watch, said in an interview with The Hill.
Clinton has said she “chose not to keep” roughly half of her server’s email cache because the 30,000 personal emails contained information about “yoga routines,” “family vacations” and “condolence notes.”
The rest of the emails — approximately 55,000 pages worth of allegedly work-related documents from her time as secretary of State — were handed back to the State Department for recordkeeping. Redacted versions of those messages have been released to the public in batches on a regular basis since last May.
Clinton and her aides decided which of the emails were personal and which were work-related, to the frustration of many political critics and transparency advocates.
But those messages might still exist in some form, Fitton speculated, either with Clinton’s lawyers or at the IT company hired to manage her server.
“We believe they’re out there,” Fitton said. “That’s one of the things we’re going to be asking.”
“Ultimately, all the records on her system will be reviewed and released to the public, as the law requires,” the Judicial Watch president told The Hill. “Some things may not be turned over because they truly are something that we can’t see, because they’re classified or private or something else.”
Judicial Watch has relentlessly pursued Clinton’s “home brew” email arrangement, filing at least 20 lawsuits connected to the matter. Clinton’s emails have become a target of frequent attacks from her Republican critics during her front-runner Democratic presidential campaign.
This week, the organization achieved a major victory when a federal judge ordered that top aides to Clinton be questioned under oath about their roles in setting up Clinton’s bespoke email arrangement. The order came in the course of an open records lawsuit about the controversial work arrangement of Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin, which has grown into a forum for the broader battle surrounding her emails.
The concern, Judge Emmet Sullivan said, was that government officials might have worked to thwart the Freedom of Information Act.
“We're talking about a cabinet-level official who was accommodated by the government for reasons unknown to the public,” Sullivan said before handing down his order Tuesday.
“This is all about the public's right to know.”
This week’s development should have been expected for months, Fitton said, ever since Clinton claimed to have eliminated her personal emails.
“Mrs. Clinton only turned over half her emails,” he said. “So of course the litigation was going to continue because the allegation was all the emails should have been reviewed and searched under the Freedom of Information Act.
Judicial Watch has until March 15 to file an initial plan for moving ahead with the evidence-gathering process, formally known as discovery. An official arrangement won’t be hammered out until at least a month after that.
All told, it could be well into the summer — if not Election Day — by the time the process is finalized.
“It’s not going to be weeks — it’s going to be months,” Fitton said.
In his order this week, Sullivan demanded that Judicial Watch propose a “narrowly tailored” plan to obtain information, seemingly aware of the heated politics of the case.
Fitton told The Hill that his organization’s questions will be limited to those “people are genuinely interested in knowing about,” such as “who knew about it and when.”
At this point, Clinton’s bespoke email arrangement has hounded her for nearly a year. Though her top Democratic opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), refuses to talk about it, scrutiny will only increase if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
Judicial Watch’s multiple legal attacks have yielded tangible results, despite what it has described as failures on the part of the media and Capitol Hill.
Without its work, Fitton claimed, “We wouldn’t know anything these emails.”
“We’ve had remarkable success in getting accountability despite the obstruction,” he said.
“And who knows what else is in those emails we haven’t seen yet.”