WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign casts her decision to turn over her personal email server to the Justice Department as cooperating with investigators. Her Republican critics suggest that the move and new revelations about classified information points to her malfeasance as secretary of state.
Two emails that traversed Clinton’s personal system were subsequently given one of the government’s highest classification ratings, a Republican lawmaker said.
Federal investigators have begun looking into the security of Clintons’ email setup amid concerns from the inspector general for the intelligence community that classified information may have passed through the system. There is no evidence she used encryption to prevent prying eyes from accessing the emails or her personal server.
“It’s about time,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the front-runner for the Democratic nomination announced that she was directing that the server be relinquished. “Secretary Clinton’s previous statements that she possessed no classified information were patently untrue. Her mishandling of classified information must be fully investigated.”
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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said: “All this means is that Hillary Clinton, in the face of FBI scrutiny, has decided she has run out of options. She knows she did something wrong and has run out of ways to cover it up.”
For months Clinton refused calls to give up the home-brew email server she used in her suburban New York City home to send and store email through a private account. She has defended her use of the server, saying she used it as a matter of convenience to limit the number of electronic devices she had to carry. She has said the server account never held classified information.
Officials are investigating whether classified information was improperly sent, though it’s not clear if the device will yield any information. Her attorney said in March that no emails from the main personal address she used while secretary of state are on the server or back-up systems associated with it.
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said Tuesday that she has “pledged to cooperate with the government’s security inquiry, and if there are more questions, we will continue to address them.”
In March, Clinton said she exchanged about 60,000 emails in her four years in the Obama administration, about half of which were personal and were discarded. She turned over the other half to the State Department last December. The department is reviewing those emails and has begun the process of releasing them to the public.
On Tuesday, Clinton attorney David Kendall gave to the Justice Department three thumb drives containing copies of work-related emails sent to and from her personal email addresses via her private server.
Kendall gave the thumb drives, containing copies of roughly 30,000 emails, to the FBI after the agency determined he could not remain in possession of the classified information contained in some of the emails, according to a U.S. official briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. The State Department previously had said it was comfortable with Kendall keeping the emails at his Washington law office.
Also Tuesday, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said two emails that traversed Clinton’s personal system were deemed “Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information” — a rating that is among the government’s highest classifications. Grassley said the inspector general of the nation’s intelligence community had reported the new details about the higher classification to Congress on Tuesday.
Those two emails were among four that had previously been determined by the inspector general of the intelligence community to have been classified at the time they were sent. The State Department disputes that the emails were classified at that time.
“Department employees circulated these emails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011 and ultimately some were forwarded to Secretary Clinton,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby. “They were not marked as classified.”
The inspector general for the intelligence community had told Congress that potentially hundreds of classified emails are among the cache that Clinton provided to the State Department.
Earlier this week, Clinton said in a sworn statement submitted to a federal judge that she has turned over to the State Department all emails from the server “that were or potentially were federal records.” The statement, which carries her signature and was signed under penalty of perjury, echoed months of Clinton’s past public statements about the matter.
Associated Press writer Lisa Lerer contributed to this report.