Drip-drip, away: Judge rules Hillary e-mail releases to stick to planned schedule

A court handed Judicial Watch a small setback, but didn’t do any favors for Hillary Clinton, either. Earlier, Judicial Watch sued the State Department to force them to prioritize the review and release of Benghazi-related e-mails. Ruling on behalf of the State Department, Judge Amit Mehta ordered the release to stick to the current schedule:

Judge Amit Mehta said that it would be “unwise and potentially risky” to order the government to quickly release some of the 329 emails specifically related to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, which it had recently discovered.

Those emails — along with tens of thousands of others — are already on pace to be released by next February, as a result of a separate lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, said Mehta, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed by President Obama.

The best solution would be “to keep this on course,” Mehta said, since the government has already “made concrete commitments” in the other case.

It’s a momentary loss for Judicial Watch, but not a long-term defeat. The e-mails will still come out, but in the current drip drip drip timing that is predicted to last through February at the earliest. That may frustrate the government-transparency activist group, but it doesn’t prevent the e-mails from coming out.

The Hill’s headline on the case is curious: “Judge rules for Clinton on e-mails.” Actually, the judge ruled for the State Department, not Hillary Clinton, and it’s not likely to be seen as a victory in Hillary’s campaign headquarters. They would much prefer a single release in the near future, so that they can put the e-mail scandal in the rear-view mirror. It’s the slow reveal that keeps generating media interest — we can safely assume it’s not media vetting, as we’ll see shortly — and even when Hillary has a good moment, the next tranche of e-mails overshadows it. I’m surprised Team Hillary didn’t file an amicus brief on behalf of Judicial Watch.

Politico’s Rachel Bade provides another interesting development, but not necessarily an unexpected turn, in the Saga of the Secret Server. The contractors who worked with Hillary Clinton on her home-brew e-mail server have stopped cooperating with Congressional investigators, even though they had worked with them previously on their probe. As Bade notes, though, they’re still working with the FBI — which may be another indication that their investigation has gotten more serious recently:

Platte River Networks, the Denver-based tech company that housed Clinton’s server after she left the State Department in 2013, has declined requests by the Senate Homeland Committee to interview five employees about the security of the system, according to correspondence reviewed by POLITICO.

And Platte is blocking another tech company, Connecticut-based Datto Inc., from answering committee questions about its cloud backup of the Clinton emails, according to a separate letter Datto sent the committee. Datto has a confidentiality agreement with its client, Platte River, and can answer questions about that specific account only with their permission.

While the firms have voluntarily produced some information for congressional Republicans in the past, now it seems they’re not willing to go beyond their legal obligations when it comes to responding to committee inquiries. Led by Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the Homeland panel is trying to ascertain whether classified information was exposed on the homemade server Clinton used while she was secretary of state, an inquiry that’s running in parallel with a similar FBI investigation.

So far, Platte River and Datto have cooperated with the FBI, handing over information, documents and computer equipment to federal investigators. Platte River employees also had interviews with the FBI in September.

Platte told Politico that they don’t have any more information to give to the Congressional investigators. At the same time, though, Platte has forbidden Datto to discuss their business with Congress, which makes that argument seem … odd, to say the least. Senator Charles Grassley scoffed at that argument, and wondered, “What do they have to hide?”

It may be less a question of having to hide, and more a question of having to protect themselves as the FBI expands its probe. For instance, Bade also notes that InfoGrate — the firm that put Hillary in touch with Platte River — stood behind its non-disclosure agreement when Congressional investigators requested documents. InfoGrate didn’t use that excuse with the FBI, surrendering the documents. That sounds like the FBI isn’t doing a lot of asking for assistance, which is all Congressional investigators can do with private-sector firms and people unless they can issue subpoenas for their cooperation. The FBI can apply a lot more pressure to cooperate — and it appears, at least from Bade’s report, that this is the difference.

At some point, a criminal probe of the e-mail server would have to take precedence over Congressional oversight. This might have been the moment, and the players are acting accordingly.

Give Politico credit for following up on the story. The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers rips the national media (including Politico) for its intentional downplaying of a very important story … or at least it would be, if the target was Republican:

But, as Rubio said, the media somehow spun a new e-mail revelation from the Benghazi hearing into a story about what a great job Clinton did keeping her cool through 11 hours of GOP heat. They said it was the best week of her campaign. Literally. Let me recite the headlines.

Politico: “Hillary’s best week yet.”

Time: “Hillary Clinton celebrates run of success at Jefferson-Jackson dinner.”

NBC: “Hillary Clinton’s best week of the campaign.”

I could go on.

More recently, the media has gleefully moved on to other supposed scandals involving Republicans, even though they are far less serious. Carson has been getting hammered for basically having a fuzzy memory on things that happened decades ago, and Rubio is under fire for charging personal expenses to a Florida Republican Party credit card — expenses that he paid back. Really?

Meanwhile, new developments in the far-more-important Clinton e-mail scandal — like last week’s Washington Free Beacon report about the nondisclosure agreement she signed when she became secretary of state — have received little attention in the mainstream press.

Yes, the media has covered some of this stuff. But if she were a Republican, the coverage would be way more intense.

Perhaps the FBI is making up for that intensity now.