WASHINGTON — The State Department released 75 emails, totaling 273 pages, recovered by the FBI as part of their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server Friday.
The release is the first of four large productions before Election Day, with more expected in the months after.
That production schedule comes as the result of several Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch and VICE News journalist Jason Leopold, seeking information about the former secretary of State’s tenure in office.
Here’s the latest in the Clinton email saga:
Didn’t the State Department already release Clinton’s emails?
Well, yes. But some of the ones coming Friday and in the future are new.
Clinton turned over approximately 54,000 pages of her emails to the State Department last year, shortly after a New York Times report revealed her unconventional email setup of using a private server.
Most of those emails were then released by the State Department, with redactions, between May 2015 and March of this year.
So case closed. Right?
Not so fast.
Clinton’s critics, including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, continued to publicly question whether her staff had turned over all the work-related emails in her possession, as required by the Federal Records Act.
That criticism reached a fever pitch in July, when FBI Director James Comey announced his investigators had recovered “thousands” of documents during their investigation of the private server, including emails that had not previously been provided to the State Department.
How many emails are we talking about here?
After an initial review, the State Department concluded the FBI’s trove of documents included approximately 15,000 emails sent to or from Clinton.
Of those, they believe about 9,400 are personal emails not subject to release.
Of the remaining 5,600, the State Department believes “a significant number” are duplicates or near-duplicates of emails already turned over by Clinton.
Last month, US District Judge James Boasberg ordered the State Department to process 350 pages of emails for release on October 7, October 21 and November 4. The State Department then reached an agreement in a separate FOIA lawsuit to process an additional 1,850 pages for release by November 3, ensuring a review of at least 2,900 pages before the election.
Five emails recovered by the FBI were released last month in a separate FOIA case, including a previously-unreleased email related to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and an exchange between Clinton and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Okay, so what’s in this latest batch?
Short answer: No bombshells.
More than half of the emails are these so-called “near duplicates” of previously released emails, State Department Spokesman John Kirby noted in a statement Friday.
“For instance,” he said, “a ‘near duplicate’ would be substantively identical to previously released emails but for a top email in the chain stating ‘Please print.'”
The State Department also found a few dozen exact duplicates — which it did not re-release.
There are also a number of emails between Clinton and her close aides in which they discuss scheduling matters — timing for phone calls, meetings, etc.
… And was there any classified material?
None of the new emails contained information marked as classified or upgraded to classified.
But six of the emails were near duplicates that included a previously-released email that had been upgraded when originally released.