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Federal judge orders State Dept. to release Clinton emails showing what Obama knew about Benghazi

A federal judge orders that information regarding what former President Barack Obama knew about the Benghazi attacks be released after a FOIA request from Judicial Watch. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A federal judge has ordered the State Department to release previously redacted information in Hillary Clinton emails concerning the Obama administration's response in the immediate aftermath of the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog that has closely followed the Benghazi investigation, announced U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's order on Friday. According to the group, Jackson ordered the State Department turn over "eight identical paragraphs" of information redacted from two Clinton emails on Sept. 13, 2012.

The contents of the emails include summaries of conservations then-President Barack Obama had with leaders of Egypt and Libya following the attack two days earlier, which left four Americans dead, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

The subject line on the emails read: "FW: Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt."

The emails, once released, will prove what Clinton and Obama knew and when they knew it, according to Judicial Watch.

"The full emails may reveal what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama knew about the September 11, 2012, terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi," they wrote in a press release.

The emails, which were on Clinton's unprotected home server, were originally unreleased by the State Department after they claimed the emailed deserved a "deliberative process" Freedom of Information Act exemption.

However, Jackson personally reviewed the documents and said they didn't meet the criteria for the exemption. In response, the State Department asked Jackson to reconsider her order, arguing the emails were mistakenly claimed exempt under "deliberative process" and should instead be ruled exempt under a different FOIA exception, the classified information exemption.

But Judicial Watch argues there was no mistake in the exemption status, but rather evidence the State Department was deliberately trying to protect Clinton by "avoiding identifying emails on Clinton’s unofficial, non-secure email server as classified."

Judicial Watch said in their suit:

An agency’s deliberate withholding of a FOIA claim, either to gain a tactical advantage or, as appears to be the case here, to protect the agency’s interests and those of its former head, is “a motive undoubtedly inconsistent with FOIA’s broad remedial purpose …”

In a statement, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton appealed to President Donald Trump and questioned if he knew his State Department is still trying to protect Clinton.

"Does President Trump know his State and Justice Departments are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?" Fitton said. "An extraordinary court ruling that could result in key answers about the Benghazi outrage is being opposed by the Trump administration."

"This may well be an example of the ‘deep state’ trying to get away with a cover up – if so then the Trump administration must put a stop to it," he argued.

Judicial Watch filed their original suit in Sept. 2014. They have obtained hundreds of previously hidden documents concerning Benghazi through FOIA requests.

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