It has been two months since the State Department announced that it was withholding in full 22 Hillary Clinton emails that contained “Top Secret” information, but one crucial question remains: was the information in those emails classified when they were originally written?
A State Department official tells The Daily Caller that the agency is still not prepared to provide an answer to that question. It’s unclear if the State Department has made the determination and is waiting to announce it or if the matter is still being reviewed.
On Jan. 29, State Department spokesman John Kirby announced the State Department was concurring with the intelligence community’s inspector general that the 22 emails — which spanned 37 pages — contained “Top Secret” information. Some of the information involved extremely sensitive “special access programs.”
The announcement came as a surprise because it was the first time that the State Department had acknowledged that “Top Secret” information was contained on Clinton’s private email server, which is currently at the center of an FBI investigation.
At the time of the announcement — and in press briefings shortly after — Kirby declined to say whether the information in those emails was classified when they landed on Clinton’s server. Little has changed in the two months since.
A determination that the information was classified when sent would be a massive blow to Clinton, the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
The intelligence community’s inspector general has determined that one Clinton email contained “Top Secret” information when created. But Clinton — and more importantly, the State Department — have disputed that assessment. Clinton’s campaign has even gone as far as accusing the inspector general, I. Charles McCullough III, of being politically biased against Clinton. That despite McCullough III being an Obama appointee.
The State Department has classified more than 2,000 of Clinton’s 30,000-plus emails that Clinton gave the agency in Dec. 2014. But those classifications have all been retroactive. The State Department says that the information was not classified when it was sent to or from Clinton.
State has not relented in its position on the retroactive classifications, even though many have questioned it. Many of the Clinton emails contain foreign government information, a type of information that is “born classified.” (RELATED: Dozens Of Clinton Emails Were ‘Born Classified,’ Undermining Candidate’s Claim)
But as long as State stands by that assessment, Clinton will be able to use it as cover to argue that she did nothing wrong by using a personal email account hosted on a private email server.
She has said that none of the emails she sent or received were “marked” classified when they were sent or received. The talking point has proved convenient even though Clinton did sign a classified information nondisclosure agreement when she started working at the State Department that stated that there is no distinction between classified information that is “marked” or “unmarked.”
The State Department did not say when it expects to announce a decision on the classification status of the 22 emails. According to several recent reports, the FBI is wrapping up its investigation and will soon interview several Clinton aides who sent her classified information. Investigators will also soon begin seeking a time to interview Clinton, according to those reports.