The State Department is “pausing” its review of 22 “Top Secret” Hillary Clinton emails while the FBI finishes up its investigation of the former secretary of state’s private email system, an agency spokeswoman announced on Friday.
It is not certain that the review, which was announced on Jan. 29, will continue after the FBI concludes its probe, spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.
“After the law enforcement investigation ends, we will reassess — I’m not going to pre-judge any outcomes on that. The department will take appropriate action to take a look at where we move forward on that,” Trudeau told reporters.
The State Department had been reviewing the 22 Clinton emails, which were housed on her private email server, to determine whether the information in them was classified when the messages were first sent.
The State Department has retroactively classified more than 2,000 Clinton emails. But the agency has not deemed any to have been classified when Clinton sent or received them.
FBI investigators are said to be finalizing the probe and will soon interview Clinton and several of her top aides, according to news reports.
Earlier this week, The Daily Caller reported that the State Department declined to provide any updates on the review. But as Trudeau said on Friday, the State Department reached out to the FBI in late February. The bureau responded in March and suggested that the agency “pause” its review of the sensitive emails. (RELATED: The State Dept. Has Still Not Answered This Crucial Question About Hillary’s 22 ‘Top Secret’ Emails)
It is unclear why the State Department waited until Friday to share news of its hiatus with reporters.
“The FBI communicated to us that we should follow our standard practice which is to put our internal review on hold while there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation under way,” Trudeau said.
She was not asked why the State Department contacted the FBI but said that the agency does “not want our internal review to complicate or impede the progress of their ongoing law enforcement investigation.”
Reporters at the State Department briefing were critical of the announcement as well as with State’s rationale for its decision.
“I don’t understand how they contradict each other,” said Associated Press reporter Matt Lee. He pointed out that the State Department reviewed its security measures following the Benghazi attacks at the same time that law enforcement agencies were investigating.
“I’m not going to speak to the details of that,” Trudeau responded.
“It’s prudence,” she said later of the decision to “pause” the review. “It’s the idea that there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation.”
“The answer is far from satisfactory,” Lee said.
Asked if the pause should be taken as “a sign that the administration thinks that the laws may have been broken,” Trudeau said “I wouldn’t read anything into it.”
The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.
Trudeau was also asked Friday if the State Department inspector general’s investigation into general email practices at the State Department had also been halted. Sec. of State John Kerry ordered the review last spring, after news broke of Clinton’s unorthodox email practices emerged.
Trudeau said she believed that the IG was still conducting that review.
A spokesman for the IG confirmed that the review is still underway. He said that the report should come out “in about a month or so.”
This post has been updated with additional information.