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A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that State Department officials did not properly research the Republican National Committee’s request for visitor records and must now do a broader search which will render documents to the GOP.

“The narrow interpretation given by the agency to the Visitor Records Request improperly limited the scope of the search, rendering the search conducted in this case inadequate,” Judge Beryl Howell wrote Tuesday evening.

State officials had reported to the RNC that their search for Clinton’s visitor records yielded no results because the building’s entry system did not document where entrants were headed.

Last December, the RNC filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records of visitors that wanted to meet with then-State Secretary Hillary Clinton. The GOP organization sued State in March after the department failed to turn over any relevant information.

Republicans said they had proof Clinton’s staff tracked all visitors, thanks to an inspector general report that noted an Outlook calendar for Clinton meetings. But the State Department responded that any such information they were referring to was about scheduled and not necessarily actual meeting and thus was not covered under the FOIA request.

“Parsing a FOIA request to exclude purportedly ‘indirectly’ responsive records, as the State Department suggests, would undercut the long-standing mandate to agencies to construe FOIA requests liberally,” Howell wrote.

“Certainly, the RNC’s Visitor Records Request could have been drafted with more clarity to cover scheduled meetings. Yet, many of the anticipated attendees likely did actually attend the scheduled meetings reflected in the contested records … Indeed, given the importance of attendance at a scheduled meeting with a public official the stature of the Secretary of State and/or in her office, visitors more than likely kept their scheduled attendance.”

The judge has ordered State to redo the search which will finally give the RNC access to Clinton’s appointment book.

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