12:46pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Gawker Pushes for Clinton Aide's Emails in FOIA Lawsuit
Gawker Media continues to prod the U.S. Department of State to hand over email communications between Philippe Reines, a former press aide in the department, and reporters from 34 media outlets. On Friday, the news site filed a lawsuit in D.C. federal court under the Freedom of Information Act in the latest sign that the imbroglio over revelations that Hillary Clinton used a personal email address instead of a government one is not going away anytime soon.
Gawker first made a FOIA request on Reines' communications in 2011 but got nowhere.
Two years later, Gawker published a story on its website about a hacker claiming to have compromised the email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton aide. The article raised the issue that Clinton was receiving emails from Blumenthal at a private account and mused, "While it's not strictly a violation of the [Presidential Records Act] and FOIA for Clinton to conduct official business on a non-government account, the law requires that those emails be archived along with her @state.gov communications."
The new lawsuit filed today says that the State Department claimed "no responsive records could be located until confronted with evidence that some email communications that would qualify as responsive were already published online."
On March 2, The New York Times reported Clinton "exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state."
The possibility that she might have broken rules led to a flurry of media coverage and eventually a news conference by Clinton, attempting to quell the controversy but instead stoking the fire upon her revelation that she had deleted about half of the 60,000 emails she had sent. The rest have been turned over to the State Dept. for a review and possible release. The Associated Press had separately filed a FOIA lawsuit earlier in the week demanding these records.
Meanwhile, Gawker has resumed its struggle with Reines — adding a story about its own communications with the combative Clinton aide — and now looks to push the State Dept. to make a more thorough search upon sources who say Reines and Clinton aide Huma Abedin were also using "Clinton email addresses" in the course of their official duties.
The attempt to seize these emails threatens not only to expose Clinton communications to sunlight, but many prominent journalists dealing with the State Dept. as well.