The State Department is poised to wait until after the general election to publish informative emails sent and received through a private server by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as top US diplomat.
Correspondence revealing just how involved Secretary Clinton was in pushing the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) won’t be released until late November, the International Business Times reported on Monday.
Officials at State initially told reporter David Sirota that his Freedom of Information Act request for Secretary Clinton’s messages on TPP would be fulfilled by April of 2016. The department told the IB Times last week, however, that it won’t be able to comply with the request until Nov. 31 — a calendar date which doesn’t even exist, as there are only 30 days in the month.
The 12-nation international trade agreement has stalled in Congress with opposition coming from both sides of the political aisle. It has also animated the presidential race with GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump rallying voters in opposition to the trade pact. Republicans on Capitol Hill have, generally speaking, been more supportive of the TPP than Democrats.
The Trump campaign has already seized on the department’s stonewalling. The businessman’s senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller, said on Monday that “Hillary Clinton’s TPP emails should absolutely be released, as her support for TPP threatens to permanently undermine US workers and sovereignty.”
He added in a statement to the IB Times that “Hillary is 100 percent controlled by corporate interests, including foreign corporate interests, and it is essential these emails see the light of day.”
Following the lead of the Associated Press, major media outlets declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Democratic Primary on Monday night based on an anonymous survey of superdelegates.
Clinton claimed on the trail last year that she is opposed TPP in its current form. But as Secretary of State in 2012 she stated that the agreement “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.”
State Department FOIA intransigence has also foiled Vice News reporter Jason Koebler, who filed a documents request in March 2015 for internal department emails related to the security of Secretary Clinton’s private email server. The department notified Koebler last month that it won’t be able release the messages until December 2016 — a month after the election.
Another batch of emails from Secretary Clinton’s staff won’t be released until after 2090. In a court filing last week, the department claimed that it would take “75 years in total” to respond to a Republican National Committee request for all the email records belonging to Clinton’s top staff at State.
The department’s failure to comply with FOIA has been well documented since before the Clinton email kerfuffle. A January Inspector General report criticized State leadership for not better overseeing records requests. The department takes on average four and a half times longer to respond to FOIA requests than other federal agencies.
The slow-response rate may not be a result of an innocent lack of oversight, but instead a strategy to evade.
In April, the AP published emails from department officials discussing the botched ZunZuneo operation in Cuba, while taking solace in knowing that records on the program would be released via FOIA “six months from now,” with the public having forgotten about the story.
ZunZuneo referred to a social media program surreptitiously set up by the US Agency for International Development in Cuba in order to foment unrest against the Castro government.