The Hillary Clinton email debacle isn’t ending anytime soon, with State Department officials saying they have no idea when they will finish sorting though and releasing the previously hidden messages.
More classified documents that the former secretary of state improperly handled keep coming to light.
The Trump administration doesn’t even know if it has hunted down every trace of the emails that Mrs. Clinton — a former first lady, U.S. senator, top diplomat and Democratic presidential nominee — sent from a secret email server stashed in her home.
In February 2016, the State Department completed a review of the roughly 30,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton turned over in December 2014, nearly two years after she left office.
The FBI last summer gave the State Department tens of thousands of additional emails from its investigation, which the department continues to process pursuant to court orders.
This June, the FBI provided approximately 7,000 additional documents recovered from the laptop computer shared by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband, Anthony Weiner, whose habitual sexting cost him a seat in Congress, the mayoral election in New York and ultimately his marriage to Ms. Abedin.
“We have not yet determined how many of these documents are State Department records as opposed to personal emails, nor have we determined how many documents are duplicative of material already in our possession,” said the official.
The painstaking review continues to uncover classified information that was stored on the insecure server that shielded Mrs. Clinton’s official correspondence from public and congressional oversight.
A batch of Mrs. Clinton’s email released this month included at least two with confidential information. That brings the total number of confidential documents that passed through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server to 2,083.
One from Ms. Abedin was nearly completely redacted because it would reveal foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources, according to clarification markings.
An email from Dennis Ross, who was a U.S. envoy to the Middle East, was redacted of confidential information regarding an Israeli military offensive in November 2012 against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. It included discussions regarding cease-fire negotiations.
Mrs. Clinton, whose secret email account was discovered by a congressional probe of the 2012 Benghazi attack, handed over about 30,000 messages to the State Department in December 2014.
She erased another 32,000 messages that she deemed personal. At some point, she wiped clean the email server, preventing any of the messages from being recovered.
The fight for transparency in Mrs. Clinton’s emails has broken major ground in open-records laws, and more legal battles are still to come.
The conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which has been at the forefront of the fight to make the emails public, has at least nine Freedom of Information Act lawsuits pending.
The group scored a legal victory last week when District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta ordered the State Department to expand its search for Mrs. Clinton’s emails related to the terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Mrs. Clinton was head of the State Department when heavily armed militants killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Suspicions of a cover-up emerged when the Obama administration initially downplayed the attack in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. Susan E. Rice, ambassador to the United Nations, claimed repeatedly that the attack was the culmination of a spontaneous riot over a YouTube video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.
The State Department now must search its servers for email accounts of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan and Ms. Abedin.
“It’s not about politics. It’s just about finding the truth as to what happened,” said Ramona Cotca, a senior attorney for Judicial Watch.
The legal battles over the email have persisted despite the change of administration.
“It may actually be slower,” Ms. Cotca said.
Donald Trump made Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal a top campaign issue when she was the Democratic presidential nominee.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump vowed to appoint a special counsel to investigate Mrs. Clinton. He backed off that promise once elected, saying he didn’t want to “hurt the Clintons” and that she had already “suffered greatly.”
He changed his tune again as special counsel Robert Mueller intensified the investigation into Russian interference in the election and accusations of Trump campaign collusion.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” the president said last month in a Twitter post.
The White House did not respond to questions about the slow pace of the Clinton email search.
A Justice Department spokesman also declined to respond to the criticism but said the agency would soon submit a status report to updating the court on the Freedom of Information Act search.
“The slower the State Department processes and produces these records, the longer it will take us. But we’ll just keep at it,” Ms. Cotca said. “We would like to see an end in sight. I would.”