The Associated Press wants the e-mails that Hillary Rodham Clinton sent from a private account during her tenure as secretary of state. Today the wire service announced that it had filed a suit in D.C. federal court, seeking a range of e-mails and documents. Along with Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the AP, the lawsuit is pursuing “materials related to her public and private calendars, correspondence involving longtime aides likely to play key roles in her expected campaign for president, and Clinton-related emails about the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices.”
The AP’s account of the suit quotes Karen Kaiser, the AP’s general counsel, as follows: “After careful deliberation and exhausting our other options, The Associated Press is taking the necessary legal steps to gain access to these important documents, which will shed light on actions by the State Department and former Secretary Clinton, a presumptive 2016 presidential candidate, during some of the most significant issues of our time.”
It’s unclear whether the AP’s action will put the news organization ahead of a process that’s already underway at State. The department is reviewing 30,000-odd business-related e-mails that Clinton culled from her private archive following her tenure as secretary of state; they were turned over to State in December. Those e-mails that qualify for release to the public will be placed online, the department has indicated.
In a fact sheet on the e-mail controversy, the Clinton camp has signaled to the media what to expect from the eventual disclosures: “You will see everything from the work of government, to emails with State and other Administration colleagues, to LinkedIn invites, to talk about the weather — essentially what anyone would see in their own email account,” reads the fact sheet.
Like many other news organizations — including the Erik Wemple Blog — the AP has unfilled FOIA requests pending with the State Department — one from March 2010 and others from summer 2013. As a reflection of just how dysfunctional is the department’s handling of the annual load of 19,000 requests, Gawker in 2012 FOIA’d correspondence between Clinton aide Philippe Reines and a bunch of news outlets. Though Reines surely generated stacks of such correspondence, the department responded that it could find no responsive records. Exclamation point here.