Judicial Watch announced today that Secretary of State John Kerry asked a court to delay by nearly 40 days his obligation to answer a Judicial Watch lawsuit that seeks to force Kerry to take steps to “recover emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” and other U.S. Department of State employees (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. John F. Kerry (No. 1:15-cv-00785)). Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit on May 28, and the State Department is obligated to answer the complaint on August 7, but the State Department is seeking an extraordinary 38 more days to answer the complaint.
Judicial Watch notes in its opposition to the delay that Kerry has already had 60 days to respond to the Judicial Watch lawsuit. Judicial Watch notes that the concerns about unsecured classified information on Clinton’s email system increases the urgency of the issue:
This case involves the removal and ongoing failure to recover agency records. Nearly every day brings new, startling revelations of possible destruction of these records and Defendant’s continuing failure to recover them. See Exh. B (Michael S. Schmidt, No Copies of Clinton Emails, Lawyer Says, N.Y. Times, July 24, 2015). Even more disturbing, many of which apparently contain classified information. See Exh. C (Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo, Hillary Clinton Emails Said to Contain Classified Data, N.Y. Times, July 24, 2015). While Defendant would like 98 days to fashion a response to the Complaint, time is of the essence in taking action to recover these records.
Kerry argues to delay the lawsuit by consolidating it with a case brought by Cause of Action Institute. The Cause of Action lawsuit argues the same legal theory as Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, was filed nearly six weeks after Judicial Watch filed its complaint, and raises no new legal issues that require 38 days of legal work.
Judicial Watch attorneys note to the Court that if the two lawsuits against Kerry are so similar that they require consolidation, then Secretary should be able to respond to both complaints next week. Consolidating two or more lawsuits is supposed to be used “avoid unnecessary cost or delay” under federal court rules.
While at the State Department, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted official government business using unsecured email server and email accounts. Her top aides and advisors also used non-“state.gov” email accounts to conduct official business. Clinton left office February 1, 2013.
Judicial Watch sued Kerry after the State Department failed to take action on a letter to Kerry “notifying him of the unlawful removal of the Clinton emails and requesting that he initiate enforcement action pursuant to the FRA,” including working through the Attorney General to recover the emails.
“Secretary of State Kerry and the Obama administration are obstructing the courts at every turn on the Clinton email scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Secretary Kerry doesn’t want to answer to the public or to the court about why he hasn’t taken steps required by law to secure Hillary Clinton’s emails, which he knows includes unsecured classified material. The law requires quick action and our lawsuit may be the best vehicle for finally forcing action to recover and preserve all the government documents and classified information Mrs. Clinton is unlawfully keeping.”