‘Top secret’ emails found on Clinton server will not be publicly released, US State Department says
Material that should have been marked “top secret” has been found in seven email chains on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private server, the US State Department says.
Spokesman John Kirby said the emails, which he described as “22 documents covering 37 pages”, would therefore not be released publicly along with other emails from the Democratic White House candidate’s controversial archive.
The revelation comes three days before Mrs Clinton — the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination — goes to battle in the Iowa caucus, the first time the public will cast ballots on the long road to the election in November.
“These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent,” Mr Kirby told a news briefing, explaining that the emails had been reviewed prior to public release and found to contain “top secret” information.
“We can confirm that later today, as part of our monthly [Freedom of Information Act] productions of former secretary Clinton’s emails, the State Department will be denying in full seven email chains,” he said.
“The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community,” he added, without naming the spy agency involved, as is normal practice in official US statements.
Mrs Clinton’s campaign reacted with fury to the announcement, demanding that the emails be released in full in order to defuse a burgeoning scandal that could critically damage her 2016 presidential hopes.
“This appears to be over-classification run amok,” the campaign, Hillary for America, declared.
“We will pursue all appropriate avenues to see that her emails are released in a manner consistent with her call last year.”
Emails between Clinton and Obama will also not be released
Another 18 emails, from eight email chains, sent between then-secretary Mrs Clinton and President Barack Obama will also not be released as part of the scheduled Friday night document dump.
But Mr Kirby said this was not because these emails contained any classified information but was instead in order to preserve Mr Obama’s privacy while he remains in office.
These emails may be released after he leaves the White House next year.
“To be clear, the emails between then-secretary [Mrs] Clinton and President Obama have not been determined to be classified,” he said.
“They are entirely separate and distinct from the emails in today’s release that were upgraded to top secret, secret or confidential, and I’m not going to speak again to the content of the email traffic.”
In the build-up to Friday’s release, several leaks to US media suggested that highly secret information had been found on Mrs Clinton’s private server, which she used while in office instead of an official government account.
The revelation of the so-called “homebrew” server was an early embarrassment for her campaign, but she has long insisted that no information marked as classified had been put at risk by her unusual arrangement.
Her campaign returned to this theme in her statement.
“After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic in-fighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” it said.
“This flies in the face of the fact that these emails were unmarked at the time they were sent, and have been called ‘innocuous’ by certain intelligence officials.”