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Freedom Watch Dealt Loss in Clinton Email Case

WASHINGTON (CN) - New revelations from the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server are not enough to give a conservative advocacy group relief from an April ruling against it in a Freedom of Information Act dispute with the State Department, a federal judge ruled.

Freedom Watch, a legal advocacy group founded by conservative attorney and frequent case filer Larry Klayman, sued the State Department in 2013, claiming the agency did not conduct a proper search for records related to sanctions waivers it granted some countries that conduct business with Iran.

As recounted in a ruling announced Friday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled in favor of the State Department in January 2015, saying it did all that is required of it under the Freedom of Information Act in regard to the documents Freedom Watch requested.

Freedom Watch appealed, and while waiting to hear back from the D.C. Circuit, The New York Times broke the story about Clinton's private email server.

Freedom Watch used the story as the basis of its request that the D.C. Circuit send the case back to Boasberg with directions he allow discovery in the case to continue.

The appeals court partially agreed and sent the case back to Boasberg on Nov. 3, 2015.

The judge then ordered the State Department to comb through the newly revealed stash of emails.

The department came back and said it found no records related to Iranian sanctions waivers in the trove of emails from the private server, and again moved for summary judgment, the opinion says.

Finding this search adequate, despite its failure to turn up any new results, Boasberg again ruled in favor of the State Department and Freedom Watch again appealed, according to the opinion.

But another curve in the Clinton emails saga came when the FBI announced it given the State Department discs of information from its investigation into the former secretary of state's private server.

This led Freedom Watch to file a motion for relief from judgment in August asking Boasberg to rule in its favor, and also accusing the department of stalling to help Clinton win the White House.

"These newly revealed emails from Hillary Clinton's private emails server more than likely contain responsive and relevant information and therefore must be allowed to be the subject of plaintiff's FOIA request, in the interest of truth and justice," Freedom Watch's motion reads.

But Freedom Watch's effort fell short on Friday when Boasberg again ruled in favor of the State Department in a terse, 7-page opinion.

Boasberg found the State Department's third search, which included the information from the FBI and revealed no responsive documents, as adequate as the agency's first two attempts, and said it would not have changed the original outcome of the case.

"Because defendant's adequate search revealed no responsive records, it is clear that the documents given to state by the FBI after the court's April 2016 judgment would not have 'changed the outcome of the prior proceedings,'" Boasberg wrote.

Boasberg could also find no evidence of fraud and almost appeared to mock Freedom Watch's request for further discovery in the case, which he said was the group's only response to the State Department's contention that Freedom Watch could not receive statutory relief.

"But as this court has twice before explained, discovery is neither necessary nor appropriate here," Boasberg wrote. "Perhaps the third time will be the charm."

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