Hillary Clinton
U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to remarks at a roundtable campaign event with small businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, United States, May 19, 2015.REUTERS/Jim Young

A federal judge ordered the US State Department to develop a plan to release Hillary Clinton's emails from her time as head of the agency is a series of batches.

US District Judge Rudolph Contreras ordered the State Department to establish a timetable for the periodic release of the 55,000 pages of emails by 26 May, lawyer Jeffrey Light said.

The order came as a response to the department's statement that it would need until January 2016 to release the emails. The State Department said it would take that long when responding to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit by Vice News, ABC News reported.

Contreras also requested the State Department develop a plan in the next couple of days for the release of 300 emails from Clinton regarding the 2012 Benghazi, Libya attack.

The periodic release of these emails threaten to overshadow Clinton's presidential campaign. However, ABC News noted that releasing the emails earlier than January 2016, before the primary election season begins, will be more beneficial to Clinton.

According to Reuters, Republicans wants the emails released as soon as possible to give insight into Clinton's time as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Reuters noted that while several Clinton critics have expressed interest in the Benghazi emails, several congressional probes have found that Clinton did not fail to protect the four Americans killed during the attack.

Like Republicans, Clinton has been vocal about the immediate release of the emails. During a campaign event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the Democratic candidate said: "Anything that they might do to expedite that process I heartily support. I want them out as soon as they can get out."

Clinton came under fire after it was revealed that she had used her own private email server to conduct official government business during her time as secretary of state. According to ABC News, she has since taken to social media to tell the public she wants the emails released.