The U.S. State Department officials have confirmed for the first time that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s home server contained top-secret information. Twenty-two emails were so highly confidential that they required the highest level of classification, a report by the Associated Press reveals.
The State Department’s Diplomatic Security and Intelligence Bureaus are also investigating the information. Department spokesman John Kirby indicated the seriousness of the situation.
“The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information.”
Kirby also said that withholding documents isn’t unusual, especially when the information they contained is highly sensitive.
Hillary Clinton has long maintained that she has never sent or received any highly classified or top-secret emails, but the new information stemming from the investigation indicates that might not be true.
Earlier on Friday, ABC News reported that releasing the remaining 9,900 emails would be delayed due to this week’s blizzard that forced the government to shut down for three days. The emails were part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that had compelled the State Department to release them.
Obama administration confirms for 1st time Clinton's unsecured home server contains some closely guarded secrets: https://t.co/NRiMg5IYNA— The Associated Press (@AP) January 29, 2016
Now, the State Department has said it will not release 22 of those emails because they contain “top secret” information, which is the highest level of government classification.
Kirby told news outlets that at the time the emails were sent, they were not marked classified but were upgraded to comply with an Intelligence Community request.
“We are aware that there is intense interest in this matter, and we are announcing this decision now because the (Freedom of Information Act) process regarding these emails has been completed.”
He also indicated that the one-month extension would not apply for these and that Clinton or her staff may not have marked the emails properly.
“Its certainly possible that for any number of reasons, traffic can be sent that’s not marked appropriately for its classification. That is certainly possible.”
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon blasted the State Department for “over-classification run amok.”
“We firmly oppose the complete blocking of the release of these emails. Since first providing her emails to the State Department more than one year ago, Hillary Clinton has urged that they be made available to the public. We feel no differently today.”
The State Department is withholding several email chains between President Barack Obama and Clinton in order to protect the president’s ability to “receive unvarnished advice and counsel.” These Clinton emails will be released at a later time, along with other presidential records.
Clinton has blasted the State Department for retroactively classifying emails that were not considered classified before. At one time, she even suggested that some emails officials are retroactively classifying were about drone programs that were originally reported in a New York Times article.
During the most recent town hall with the candidates last Sunday, Clinton fended off a question by a young man claiming she is untrustworthy among younger voters. In an attempt to brush off those claims, she adamantly defended her record of advocacy of youth, minority, and other marginalized groups.
It is unclear how this latest revelation in the ongoing investigation to Clinton’s emails and her private server will affect her campaign, but it certainly can’t help. Clinton has been dogged by the email scandal for months, and her presidential primary run has only intensified the scrutiny into the matter. Bernie Sanders, her main contender, on the other hand, is viewed as one of the most highly trusted candidates in either party currently running for president.
With just a few days left before the Iowa caucuses, this latest news about the highly top secret emails found on Clinton’s server could irreparably damage her candidacy.
[Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty]