In a filing with the federal district court in Washington, the Obama administration admitted the request was unusual because the cases involve a wide range of documents on unrelated subjects, but said the process is no longer “orderly” and there needs to be a single case where they can make their arguments.

“Different judges are being asked to impose a variety of search regimes, resulting in a hodgepodge of orders directing how State manages the search and production of the emails,” administration lawyers said. “The result is confusion, inefficiencies and advantages given to some requesters at the expense of others.”

The department implied that without consolidation, it might not be able to make the target one of the judges set for producing all of Mrs. Clinton’s emails by January.

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