Hillary Clinton sent and received dozens of emails that contained “foreign government information,” meaning that it was “born classified,” according to a new report from Reuters.
The finding, which Reuters based on a review of the Clinton emails that have been publicly released by the State Department, deals yet another heavy blow to the Democratic presidential candidate’s repeated claim that she did not send or receive emails with classified information when she was secretary of state.
The inspector general for the Intelligence Community has already found that two emails that traversed Clinton’s email server contained information that was “top secret” at the time it was sent. After that revelation, Clinton revised her claim, saying that she did not handle sensitive information that was marked as such when it was exchanged.
Reuters determined that at least 30 email threads from 2009 bear classification markings which indicate that the information — which is marked “confidential” — is “foreign government information.”
Clinton sent at least 17 of those emails, which are now redacted with a 1.4(b) code, the National Archives and Records Administration’s classification for foreign information, a category which includes any information written or spoken in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts
One of those is an email Clinton sent on Nov. 10, 2009 to her longtime friend, Sidney Blumenthal. In the exchange, Clinton refers to a recent trip to Berlin.
“Lots of good exchanges w leaders,” she wrote. The rest of the email is redacted and classified as “confidential.” It was sent from Clinton’s private email account to Blumenthal’s aol.com account, which was hacked in 2013.
Clinton’s reference to her exchanges with foreign leaders could fit into the “foreign government information” category.
The information is also classified as soon as it is generated, a former NARA official told Reuters.
“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).
“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” Leonard continued.
Reuters notes that while its findings do not undermine Clinton’s claims that the emails she sent and received did not have classification markings on them when they were received, standard nondisclosure agreements issued by the federal government warns officials that not all classified information is marked as such when exchanged.
Reuters also points to a series of presidential executive orders handed down since 2003 which have emphasized that information that foreign governments share with U.S. officials on the condition of confidentiality is the only type that is “presumed” to be classified.
That clause comes to play in a November 2009 email that a staffer for David Miliband, the British foreign secretary at the time, sent to Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.
Miliband’s aide pressed for confidentiality, writing that his boss “very much wants the Secretary (only) to see this note.”
The rest of the email — five pages worth — is redacted. Abedin forwarded the message to Clinton’s email address, email@example.com, and wrote: “Another note from milliband that he doesn’t want to send through the system.”
A spokeswoman for an unnamed foreign government included in the Clinton emails told Reuters that information was shared in confidence with Clinton and her staff.
“If so, it appears this information should have been classified at the time and not handled on a private unsecured email network, according to government regulations,” according to Reuters.