Email questions follow Clinton Into 2016 As Document Release Falls Behind Schedule

The State Department is ringing in the New Year by releasing 5,500 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails on Thursday afternoon.

As ordered by a federal judge, the agency has been releasing the Democratic presidential front-runner's electronic correspondences from her term as secretary on a monthly basis since the summer, with the final batch scheduled for release at the end of January. Clinton has been criticized for using a personal email address on a private server kept in her home for her official business rather than a state.gov address.

Emails released so far have shed some light on communications about the terrorist attack on a diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, an incident that has been the subject of multiple congressional inquiries, but they have not produced anything particularly surprising.

The State Department initially planned to release more than 8,000 pages of emails Thursday, but it said in a statement that it will not be able to meet that goal. Additional emails will now be released next week.

The emails released Thursday will also reportedly be more difficult to search than previous batches due to incomplete data fields.

Regardless of what journalists and political opponents find in the latest email dump, Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said the damage caused to Clinton's candidacy by the issue is already "pretty baked in."

"It is a political liability but it is not one that is going to hurt her in the primaries," O'Connell said.

"They're purposely releasing them at times like tonight when no one's paying attention," O'Connell said.

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at Sinclair Broadcast Group

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