State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that “human error” was responsible for emails that were marked classified ending up on Hillary Clinton’s email server.
Kirby was addressing questions about FBI director James Comey’s announcement on Wednesday that investigators recovered emails that had classified markings on them when they were sent to Clinton.
“Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information,” Comey said during a press conference.
The statement undermined Clinton’s claim that she did not send or receive information that was marked classified.
Comey appeared to reference emailed “call sheets” from that Clinton was sent by one of her aides, Monica Hanley.
One of those documents, which was reported by Fox News last month, was marked with a (C), denoting that the information was classified as confidential. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Clinton was sent another call sheet marked as confidential.
Comey did not expand on how many other marked emails Clinton may have sent or received.
In a daily press briefing, Kirby addressed the classified call sheets, but attributed the existence of the markings to “human error.”
“It appears the markings in the documents raised in the media report were no longer necessary or appropriate at the time they were sent as an email,” he said.
“It appears that those markings were a human error. They didn’t need to be there. Because once the secretary had decided to make the call the process is then to move the call sheet…to change its markings to unclassified and deliver it to the secretary in a form that he or she can use.”
Kirby went on to blame whomever created the call sheet on the State Department’s unclassified email system.
“Those confidential markings should have been removed by the individual who was transmitting them on the unclassified side,” he said, adding that the State Department is aware of two instances in which Clinton was sent emails marked classified.
Despite the debate over whether Clinton’s emails were marked classified, Comey rendered the point moot on Tuesday.
“Even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it,” he said.
Clinton signed a non-disclosure agreement when she took office in Jan. 2009 acknowledging that classified information can be classified regardless of whether it is “marked or unmarked.”
Clinton has falsely claimed that she did not send or receive any classified emails. Thousands of the emails that Clinton gave the State Department in Dec. 2014 have retroactively classified.
Another 110 email were determined to have information that was classified when the information was transmitted, Comey said. Among those are eight emails with information that is considered “Top Secret.”