Though Hillary Clinton has steadfastly denied she ever handled classified emails as secretary of state, the inspector general for the intelligence community has found at least four of her emails that should have been marked as “secret” — the second-highest classification category — The Wall Street Journal reports.
Clinton’s emails “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the intelligence community’s inspector general, told The Journal.
The watchdog discovered the four emails after it analyzed a very small sample — just 40 — of the 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in December. That indicates that a much larger number of the Democratic presidential candidate’s emails should have been marked classified when she maintained them on her personal email account.
According to The Journal, the inspector general sent a letter to Congress on Thursday raising concerns over Clinton’s handling of classified material and also the security of the network on which she sent and received email.
“None of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network,” I. Charles McCullough, the inspector general, wrote to Congress.
This is the first indication from the federal government that Clinton sent, received, or handled emails that should have been marked classified while she was in office.
Around two dozen Clinton emails released in May and June by the State Department were retroactively marked classified.
At the time, the State Department and the White House defended the retroactive classification of Clinton’s emails by claiming that it is a common occurrence.
“It’s not uncommon that something that you’re sending now on an unclassified network could in later years or later months be deemed to be classified either because the passage of time made it so or because events on the ground have borne out,” a State Department spokesman recently said.
Clinton herself has denied that she ever handled classified records during her tenure at the State Department.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Clinton said at a press conference in March, shortly after her private email arrangement was revealed. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”
The Journal notes that not only did classified documents leave federal custody, but that Clinton’s personal attorney, David Kendall, has her entire trove of documents on a thumb drive.
The Journal’s report comes amid much confusion stemming from a report published by The New York Times late Thursday. The Times initially reported that the inspectors general for the intelligence community and the State Department were urging a criminal investigation to look into whether Clinton mishandled classified information during her tenure as secretary of state.
The Times silently scrubbed that report and changed its headline and lede paragraph after Clinton’s presidential campaign contacted the paper to complain. The revised report stated that the inspectors were urging a criminal probe into the mishandling of emails on Clinton’s private server. A spokesman for the Department of Justice said early on Friday that matter was a “criminal” investigation. However, the agency later walked that back and said that it is not being handled as a criminal matter at this point.
According to The Journal, the inspector general for the intelligence community has referred the matter to the FBI and is seeking an investigation over the possible mishandling of classified information. The referral could potentially lead to a criminal probe.