Attorneys for the U.S. Department of State have just notified Gawker Media that the agency is once again upgrading its estimate of the number of emails exchanged between news reporters and Philippe Reines, the former State Department spokesperson and multi-purpose consigliere of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As you may recall: In 2013, in response to our Freedom of Information Act request seeking those emails, State officials asserted, bizarrely, that no such emails existed. In August of this year—five months after Gawker filed a lawsuit against State—that estimate increased to 17,855 emails.
Today, however, the State Department revealed a much larger number in a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.: The department now has in its possession at least 90,000 documents that pertain to correspondence between Reines and other journalists, and would thus be releasable under the Freedom of Information Act. (These documents would likely include the 2012 exchange in which a thoroughly perturbed Reines told BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings to “Have a good day. And by good day I mean Fuck Off.”) The agency’s legal counsel notified Gawker’s lawyers about the new number shortly before the hearing took place.
It is not entirely clear where the 72,145 additional records came from. Over the summer, Reines turned over 20 boxes of “work-related emails” to State officials, but in an August 14 court filing, State attorneys said that they did not appear to contain many documents that were responsive to Gawker’s request.
The State Department’s admission comes three weeks after the agency produced the first set of emails between Reines and reporters, under an order by a federal judge. Those emails revealed, among other things, the fact that Reines had lied about using a personal email to conduct government business, as well as his habit of complaining to reporters (and those reporters’ editors) about the slightest amount of negative coverage.
In an email to Gawker, State Department spokesperson Alec Gerlach wrote: “The State Department does not comment on ongoing litigation. I’ll just refer you to today’s status conference.”