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Reporter Blasts Delay Tactic on Clinton Emails

WASHINGTON (CN) - Voters in the primaries should have access to emails from Hillary Clinton's private server before they hit the polls, a journalist told a federal judge.

The opposition brief filed Monday by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold comes in reaction to a request by the State Department for a one-month extension to finish its release of Clinton's emails.

Leopold told U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras the delay poses an irreversible harm to voters in several key early primary states.

"Similarly, if the court allows [the Department of] State to delay release of thousands of pages of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's official work emails, a substantial portion of the electorate will be forced to vote without the benefit of important information to which it is entitled about the performance of one of the candidates for U.S. President while servings as Secretary of State," Leopold's 13-page motion states.

The State Department's requested delay would push the full release of Clinton's emails until Feb. 29, after voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina have already cast their ballots in Democratic primaries, according to the motion.

This means more than 6 million voters - 3.5 percent of registered voters in the country - could vote without full information on Clinton's emails, Leopold claims. Another 38 million who vote on March 1 would likely not have enough time to analyze the full batch of emails if the final release came Feb. 29 as the State Department requested, Leopold says.

Clinton is considered the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, but is trying to fight off a late surge from Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa and faces a sizable deficit against the self-described Democratic socialist in New Hampshire, according to Real Clear Politics poll averages.

Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state has been a recurring theme on the campaign trail after The New York Times broke the story last year.

Leopold filed the suit against the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act one year ago Monday.

On Jan. 22, just before a blizzard shut down Washington, the State Department filed its motion for extension of time, claiming it "overlooked" some emails that required consultation from other agencies before being released.

The State Department claimed it tried to process these emails as quickly as possible, but the storm and other oversights put it and the reviewing agencies under a time crunch, according to the motion.

But Leopold blasts this excuse as "woefully vague," noting the State Department did not say how many emails each agency being consulted must review, the date it planned to send the records out or give any context for how long it takes an agency to review the documents.

"The above information is usually provided in the form of one or more affidavits from a person or persons with knowledge and responsibility for processing FOIA requests," Leopold claims. "No such affidavit from [the Department of] State, or any other agency has been provided to the Court. Instead, [the Department of] State asks for an additional month based on mere speculation."

Furthermore, the original Jan. 29 deadline for the release of emails included a built-in two-week cushion for "unexpected delays," according to Leopold's motion.

The delay is a problem both for voters and news organizations covering the election, Leopold claims. After all, fewer people will read reporters like Leopold's analysis of the emails after they have already voted, Leopold claims.

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