Republican National Committee Joins Legal Attack on Clinton Email Practices

Hillary Clinton checks her Blackberry aboard a C-17 military plane in October 2011. Hillary Clinton checks her Blackberry aboard a C-17 military plane in October 2011. Kevin Lamarque/AP file photo

This story has been updated

Adding to the multiple agency investigations and private lawsuits under way over Hillary Clinton’s State Department email arrangement, the Republican National Committee on Wednesday announced that it has filed two suits of its own.

The Washington political committee chaired by Reince Priebus decided—in the midst of a dramatically uncertain political primary process—to file two lawsuits in federal court seeking all of Hillary Clinton’s text and BlackBerry messages from her time at the State Department, along with communications between the department and the Clinton campaign after she left office, the committee announced in a blogpost.

“These lawsuits come after the RNC has consistently been stonewalled by the State Department on requests for information the American people are entitled to know,” the committee said. “Clinton claims to be the ‘most transparent person in public life’ just as the Obama administration claims to be the ‘most transparent in history.’ Yet, when it comes to complying with information requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the Obama administration and the State Department especially, have hardly been transparent.”

One lawsuit seeks communications between Clinton and her former top aides, several of whom used private email that was later turned over to the State Department. They include Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy and private-sector campaign staffer and information technologist Bryan Pagliano, who was recently granted immunity for his cooperation with the FBI.

The second lawsuit seeks communications between the State Department, the Clinton campaign and allied groups after Clinton left in 2013. 

“These actions are just one of many steps the RNC has taken to hold Clinton accountable for her poor judgment and the numerous conflicts of interest she created with her mix of personal, political, and official business at the State Department,” the RNC said.

A State Department official told Government Executive, “as is standard, the department does not comment on matters in litigation.”

The main investigation of Clinton is being conducted by the FBI, which is focusing on whether her email practices disclosed classified information. The State Department’s inspector general and the National Archives and Records Administration also continue to look into the matter.

The RNC suit mirrors similar claims by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. Asked for comment, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said, “The more the merrier. Everyone has a right to this information under law. The RNC was denied it, and the FOIA law was violated, so they have a right to go to court.”

The RNC’s move, Fitton added, “shows there is a public interest. Just because they’re an entity that is politically hostile to Mrs. Clinton is irrelevant.  She believes people she doesn’t like politically shouldn’t have access to the information under the law. She thinks can unlawfully keep it from them, and the State Department seems to share that view.” 

The RNC’s website touts itself as “the definitive resource on Clinton’s email scandal.”

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