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AP sues State Department to speed up release of Hillary Clinton's emails

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Yana Paskova/Getty Images

A day after Hillary Clinton defended her decision to use a private email account for official government correspondence, the Associated Press is ratcheting up the pressure to release her messages. The AP said today that it's filing a lawsuit against the State Department, requesting access to emails that could shed light on her tenure as Secretary of State. Among other things, it's looking specifically for Clinton's full schedule and calendar, conversations with advisers who will be instrumental in her presidential campaign, and any messages regarding NSA surveillance and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

"At no time ... has the State Department ever indicated that it did not have possession or control over the records."

The AP says it's resorted to a lawsuit after the State Department failed to respond to five Freedom of Information Act requests over five years, and only partially fulfilled a sixth. "At no time over the past five years has the State Department ever indicated that it did not have possession or control over the records," the complaint says. "Whether email concerning official government business is sent to or from an official State Department email account or from a 'personal' account maintained by State Department officials but used for government business, the State Department ... has an obligation to release them under FOIA." It's not the only group to sue the State Department; conservative political action committee Citizens United filed suit to obtain Clinton's emails late last year, and conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sued shortly after Clinton's private account was revealed.

In a press conference yesterday, Clinton said that she used her private mail server for both government and personal correspondence as "a matter of convenience," and that this was allowed by the State Department at the time. Government communications are supposed to be stored and available for public examination, something that a private account wouldn't allow, but she said that by sending messages to colleagues' government accounts, she made sure that recipients archived them instead. Nonetheless, she handed over 55,000 pages of work-related emails two months ago, roughly half the 60,000 total messages — the rest, Clinton has said, are personal messages.

After the private account was discovered, Clinton said that she had requested the State Department look over and release as many of her work-related emails as possible, and the department has agreed to do so. The process, however, is expected to take months. Whether or not the lawsuit succeeds, the AP has given it another push towards becoming more transparent, faster.