Republicans and Democrats on the House Oversight Committee clashed Thursday over the State Department's handling of requests for Hillary Clinton's emails after an agency official said it would be "simply physically impossible" to hand over all of her records before the election.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee's top Democrat, said the Freedom of Information Act hearing was "just the latest in a series of attacks" against Clinton and accused Republicans of launching a "one-sided" inquiry by pursuing Clinton's private emails but ignoring those of Colin Powell.
Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary for management at the State Department, pointed to the backlog of 30,000 FOIA requests when he testified that it was "simply physically impossible" to produce Clinton's emails by November.
But Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the oversight panel, noted the State Department has expended resources to fight open records requests in federal court.
"Keep in mind what the State Department is doing: They're using this taxpayer money to make sure that this information never gets out to the public," Chaffetz said. "The public paid for this information. They have access to this information and the federal government is suing to make sure that they don't get that."
Agency officials are facing several high-profile FOIA lawsuits for Clinton's State Department records, including one over her official schedules and others for emails deleted from her private server but recovered by the FBI.
State Department officials did not specify how many discs of emails were provided by the FBI, nor how long the agency would need to separate Clinton's personal records from her work-related ones.
Kennedy said the agency had thus far identified 14,900 emails for review.
Kennedy played a key role in managing oversight issues at the agency under Clinton's purview, blocking several inspector general investigations into allegations of misconduct and presided over stymied FOIA requests for Clinton's emails.