U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras issued an order Thursday requiring State to release batches of the still-undisclosed portion of Clinton’s emails on Feb. 13, 19 and 26 with “all remaining documents” released by “the close of business” on Feb. 29.
Contreras had publicly discussed the possibility of releasing some of the messages directly to the Freedom of Information Act litigant whose case the judge is overseeing, Jason Leopold of VICE News. However, the judge’s order Thursday directs State to release the records on its website, as the agency has done at least once each month since last May.
The release schedule stretches the emails disclosures out through two upcoming contests where Clinton is competing for delegates in the Democratic presidential race: the Feb. 20 Nevada caucuses and the Feb. 27 South Carolina primaries.
Lawyers for Leopold had argued that the elections created an urgency for State to complete its work reviewing and releasing the Clinton emails. At a hearing Tuesday, the judge said he agreed.
The staggered releases over the next few weeks were opposed by the State Department, which said such a plan could “interfere with its ability to complete processing of all the emails” by the end of February. In a court filing late Wednesday, State offered to do a single interim release on Saturday with the rest of the emails posted at the end of the month.
In his new order, Contreras continued to display the frustration he expressed at Tuesday’s hearing’ about the State Department’s failure to release all the emails by the deadline he originally set at the end of last month.
“The court expects that defendant will endeavor to avoid any additional delay,” the judge said Thursday. “Therefore, it is FURTHER ORDERED that defendant shall promptly bring any unanticipated problems to the court’s attention.”
Contreras has ordered State to provide a detailed explanation by Friday of why it failed to comply with the court’s deadline last month.