Hillary Clinton has come a long way.
In the early stages of the never-ending email scandal, which began 18 months ago, Clinton emphatically asserted that no classified material was contained in her 30,000-plus State Department emails.
But fast forward to this week, in the wake of a damning FBI report about her email practices, and Clinton has embraced what is now her fourth different defense regarding the existence of highly sensitive government information in her emails.
How did she get to this point?
Last March, during a now-infamous press conference at the United Nations, the former secretary of state boldly stated that none of the emails she sent or received contained classified information.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material,” she said then.
But when classified information was uncovered months later in her 30,000-plus emails, Clinton was forced to come up with a new line. Clinton watered down her initial claim, stating that none of the classified information in her emails was classified when she sent and received the documents.
“I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received,” she said last July.
But the federal Intelligence Community (IC) disagreed vehemently. IC analysts found approximately two dozen emails with information that was classified when originated.
Though Clinton and the State Department disagreed with the Intelligence Community’s assessment, Clinton evolved into a third defense.
She chose the angle that none of her emails were “marked” classified when she sent or received them.
“The State Department has confirmed that I did not send nor receive material marked classified or send material marked classified,” she said on the campaign trail last August.
That argument turned out to be a dud as well after a document Clinton signed upon taking office in Jan. 2009 surfaced which undermined that defense.
The Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, also known as Standard Form 312, explicitly states that “classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications.” (RELATED: Document Completely Undermines Hillary’s Classified Email Defense)
Clinton’s defense has evolved once more in the wake of the FBI’s report about her email practices. FBI investigators established that Clinton did send and receive classified information. And 100 of those emails contained information that was classified when she sent or received the messages. On top of that, the FBI found that three of those emails were marked with a “C” denoting that they contained information classified as “Confidential.”
That slow process of evolution led to a fourth Clinton defense, one which she unveiled this week.
“Nothing — and I will repeat this and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice — none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header,” Clinton said Wednesday during a presidential forum hosted by NBC’s Matt Lauer.
She offered a similar defense on Tuesday.
“With respect to classification, on classified documents, there is what’s called a header,” she told ABC News host David Muir.
“It says, this material is ‘Top secret,’ ‘Secret,’ or ‘Confidential.’ There were no headers on the thousands of emails that I sent or received.”
“There were a couple of emails with a tiny ‘C’ in a parenthesis which did not have a header, saying that means confidential in this circumstance, and which the director of the FBI has said, and the State Department has said, those couple of emails were improperly marked, even with that,” she continued. (RELATED: Clinton: Classification Markings Are Too Arcane For ‘Most People To Understand’)