State Department proposal: Release Hillary Clinton's emails in batches

U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ordered the State Department on Wednesday to release a new batch of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails every 30 days, starting on June 30. In his order, the judge also included a schedule indicating what percentage of the total documents each release should include.

On Tuesday, the department proposed in a court filing to release the archived emails every 60 days starting on June 30. That proposal came after Contreras denied the department's earlier request to release most of the 55,000 pages of emails in January 2016. The judge instructed the department last week to find a way to release the documents in stages.

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In its filing on Tuesday night, which keeps the January 2016 deadline for the release of all the documents, the State Department suggested the emails could finish its release earlier.

"The Department is keenly aware of the intense public interest in the documents and wants to get releasable materials out as soon as possible," wrote the Justice Department attorneys representing the State Department. "The Department will continue to explore ways to devote more resources to this effort, consistent with its other obligations, to complete the review even earlier."

The attorney representing James Leopold of Vice News, the journalist who filed the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] lawsuit to obtain the emails, said in a statement Tuesday that his client was not satisfied with the proposal to release a new batch of emails every 60 days. The lawyer, Ryan James, said he will ask the department to release a new batch of emails every two weeks.

"I do not believe that additional rolling productions every 60 days is sufficiently frequent to enable the public to engage in fully informed discussion about Secretary Clinton's leadership style and decisions while at the helm of the State Department," James said, according to the Associated Press.

A senior State Department official emphasized to CBS News that the review and disclosure process is "quite involved."

"We have to make sure [Freedom of Information Act] standards are properly applied and that includes addressing any interagency equities," the official said. "Keep in mind that we are reviewing a huge amount of material from Secretary Clinton's tenure at State on a wide range of issues."

Clinton's emails first came under scrutiny in March after it was revealed that she used a private email account, housed on a private server in her home, to conduct all her business as secretary of state. She's said she's turned over all of the work-related emails on that server - the 55,000 pages the State Department is currently reviewing - but she deleted 30,000 other emails her attorneys deemed non-work-related and personal in nature.

Clinton has said she used a private account for the sake of "convenience" - the State Department email did not work on her mobile device, and she didn't want to carry two phones. Some Republicans, though, have seized on the issue to accuse Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, of breaking federal record-keeping rules to maintain absolute control over her privacy.

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Clinton has said she wants the State Department to get the documents out as soon as possible.

"I have said repeatedly, I want those emails out. Nobody has a bigger interest in getting those released than I do. I respect the State Department, they have their process that they do for everybody, not just for me, but anything that they might do to expedite that process, I heartily support," she said during a campaign visit to Iowa last week. "I want the American people to learn as much as we can about the work that the work that I did with our diplomats and our development experts because I think it will show how hard we worked and what we did for our country during the time that I was secretary of state."

The question of when Clinton's emails will be released has also been caught up in the congressional investigation of the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. The chairman of the House panel probing the attack, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, has said he wants Clinton to testify, but he won't call her until he receives all the emails related to the attack from the State Department. Roughly 900 such emails were released last week.