An official within Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign appeared to have discussions with sources inside the Department of Justice (DOJ) about ongoing open records lawsuits regarding the former secretary of State’s emails, according to an email released on Tuesday.
In an email from May 2015, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said that “DOJ folks” had “inform[ed]” him about an upcoming status conference in one of the lawsuits regarding Clinton’s private email setup.
The information about an upcoming court event would have been public knowledge and open for all to attend. And it’s unclear whether the people Fallon spoke to at the Justice Department were officials who regularly communicate with the public.
However, the fact that Fallon — a former spokesman with the Justice Department — remained in contact with anyone from the department is likely to renew allegations that the Obama administration maintained an especially cozy relationship with Clinton’s presidential campaign.
On Tuesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said the connection was “unbelievable.”
The email “shows a level of collusion which calls into question the entire investigation into her private server,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Department of Justice must release all communications with the Clinton campaign and her allies as soon as possible in order to definitively prove their investigation was completely above board.”
The email from Fallon was contained in a collection of more than 1,000 messages allegedly stolen from campaign chairman John Podesta and posted to WikiLeaks on Tuesday.
Trump may be pointing to the message in an effort to redirect attention to the email release, following an increasingly bitter split from top leaders in the Republican Party and intense scrutiny over taped comments that appeared to show the nominee bragging about sexual assault.
Trump and other critics of the administration have lambasted the Justice Department for its decisionnot to press charges against Clinton or her allies for mishandling classified information. They were especially incensed by an apparently impromptu June meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also attacked the apparent connection, suggesting that the GOP senses a vulnerability for Clinton as Trump struggles in the polls.
“Emails showing the Department of Justice was giving Hillary Clinton’s campaign inside information about an ongoing investigation into her email server is deeply disturbing and raises even more questions about Bill Clinton’s tarmac meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch,” Priebus said in a statement.
“Instead of facing consequences for her actions like others have, she’s been protected at every turn by the Obama Administration so she can continue the failed policies of the last eight years."
The criminal investigation connected to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was separate and distinct from the myriad open records lawsuits filed in federal court accusing the State Department of unfairly withholding material related to Clinton’s time in office. Critics have accused the department of dragging its feet in response to those demands.
Personal lawyers for Clinton have been involved in some of the Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, but her campaign has not been involved.
Government officials have suggested that WikiLeaks is publishing material stolen by Russian hackers as part of an effort to undermine the presidential election.
“You are no media organization,” Fallon told the organization Monday on Twitter. “You are a propaganda arm of the Russian [government], running interference for their pet candidate, Trump.”