Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers a speech in Scranton, Pa., on Aug. 15. The State Department has been ordered by a federal judge to screen and release soe 15,000 of Clinton's emails oreviously not turned over for review. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ordered the State Department to review 15,000 emails Hillary Clinton did not turn over previously and release them to a conservative watchdog group by Sept. 13.
Judicial Watch has filed several lawsuits against Clinton, her top aides during her time as secretary of state and the State Department itself under the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to the unclassified communications Clinton had while using a private email server for government business.
The Justice Department announced last week it had turned over 15,000 emails Clinton did not give to the State Department after Clinton said her lawyers turned over all her work-related correspondence, 55,000 pages in all, for official review and publication. Clinton's legal team also deleted some 33,000 emails they deemed personal and not work-related, before the State Department or, later the FBI, could examine them.
The FBI said the 15,000 emails it has turned over to the State Department were discovered as part of their investigation into whether Clinton or her aides broke the law by handling classified information outside secure government servers. Ultimately, while FBI Director James Comey said Clinton was "extremely careless" with government information, the matter did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution.
The FBI has not said specifically where all the emails were found, but has said some were discovered by searching government archives of other federal employees who Clinton emailed. The FBI said some of the messages are about the Benghazi terrorist attack, emails about which Clinton had said were already produced. It was also unclear whether any of the 15,000 "new" emails are the sent or received version of emails Clinton already turned over.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton thanked a Florida judge overseeing the lawsuit for ordering the State Department to comply and release the emails in a timely fashion.
"It is astonishing that Hillary Clinton tried to delete and hide Benghazi emails and documents. No wonder federal courts in Florida and D.C. are ordering the State Department to stop stalling and begin releasing the 14,900 new Clinton emails," Fitton said.
Clinton was asked about the new email revelation during an interview with CNN this week. She declined to comment on the issue in detail but repeated her apology for the decision.
"I have been asked many, many questions in the past year about emails and what I have learned is that when I try to explain what happened, it can sound like I am trying to excuse what I did. And there are no excuses," Clinton said. "I want people to know that the decision to have a single email account was mine. I take responsibly for it. I apologize for it. I would certainly do differently if I could."