An appeals court on Dec. 27 reversed a U.S. District Court ruling from January that dismissed a call for further inquiry into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails "moot."
The case stems from a lawsuit filed by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which charged that Secretary of State John Kerry had an obligation to work with the attorney general to recover all the emails Clinton sent and received on her private server.
From 2009 to 2013, while serving as Secretary of State, Clinton handled State Department email communications through a private server in her home in New York, according to Reuters. She subsequently released about 55,000 pages of emails to investigators. However, she failed to release around 30,000 pages that she said were non-work related.
During the investigation, the State Department did not request action from the attorney general, something Judicial Watch claims is in violation of the Federal Records Act.
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In January, a district judge declared Judicial Watch's lawsuit "moot" and concluded that the State Department had made a "sustained effort" to retrieve all of Clinton's emails.
That decision was just overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which stated the following, according to Judicial Watch:
Instead of proceeding through the Attorney General, the [State] Department asked the former Secretary to return her emails voluntarily and similarly requested that the FBI share any records it obtained. Even though those efforts bore some fruit, the Department has not explained why shaking the tree harder -- e.g., by following the statutory mandate to seek action by the Attorney General -- might not bear more still…. Absent a showing that the requested enforcement action could not shake loose a few more emails, the case is not moot.
In a statement released Dec. 27, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton indicated that the ruling gives President-elect Donald Trump the power to work with his own attorney general to recover the missing emails.
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"This ruling means that the Trump Justice Department will have to decide if it wants to finally enforce the rule of law and try to retrieve all the emails Clinton and her aides unlawfully took with them when they left the State Department," Fitton said.
The State Department has not responded to the court's reversal, with a spokesperson telling Reuters that they do not comment on pending litigation.