The Justice Department is defending former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from a motion to subpoena her private emails under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“Such action is unnecessary and inappropriate under FOIA,” DOJ officials wrote in a legal briefing filed Thursday. Officials were responding to a case launched by Larry Klayman, the founder of the conservative watchdog group Freedom Watch.
Klayman is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to subpoena Clinton’s computer server where she housed the private email address she used while serving in the State Department.
Clinton has turned over 55,000 pages of emails that she believed could be considered official government communications, but she deleted 30,000 emails that she considered to be personal.
The Justice Department describes Klayman’s call for a subpoena as “speculation” in its brief.
“Plaintiff provides no basis, beyond sheer speculation, to believe that former Secretary Clinton withheld any work-related emails from those provided to the Department of State,” the agency says.
The filing, first reported by Politico, is the first time that the Justice Department has addressed the government’s role in accounting for Clinton’s private emails.
The agency says that the Freedom of Information Act “creates no obligation for an agency to search for and produce records that it does not possess and control.”
Justice also criticized Klayman’s motion to hold Clinton and her former State Department aide Cheryl Mills in contempt.
Klayman initially filed the suit challenging the State Department, which he claims did not adequately respond to his FOIA request for documents relating to Iran sanctions.
A district court ruled against Klayman in January, but he filed an updated appeal Clinton's use of the private email account and server surfaced. Klayman claims that by keeping her emails off of public servers, Clinton and the State Department obstructed justice.
The Justice Department said that the State Department plans to review the records Clinton turned over and will give Klayman any emails related to his request.