An internal watchdog group reveals the emails contained on Hillary Clinton’s private home server contained information classified at levels higher than previously known, including levels meant to protect the most sensitive U.S. intelligence. The Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III sent a letter to leaders on congressional intelligence committees on Tuesday. Two government agencies flagged emails on Clinton’s server as containing classified information, the inspector general said, including some on “special access programs.”
The Clinton campaign along with the State Department continued to deny that any information was handled improperly, saying that the information and emails in question were all retroactively classified. State Department officials noted that the same information can come from multiple sources, not all of which are classified. Two American intelligence officials tell NBC News these are not the same two emails from Clinton’s server that have long been reported as containing information deemed Top Secret.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $100,000 for sharing similarly classified information with Paula Broadwell, his biographer and mistress. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department is still undergoing its review process, but any upgraded classification that is needed will be done. Clinton campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon, emphasized that no classified information was sent or received through her private email service.
This is the same interagency dispute that has been playing out for months, and it does not change the fact that these emails were not classified at the time they were sent or received. It is alarming that the intelligence community [inspector general], working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Justice Department’s inquiry should be allowed to proceed without any further interference.”
While the State Department and Clinton campaign have said the emails in questions were “retroactively classified” or “upgraded” – to justify the more than 1,300 classified emails on her server – those terms are meaningless under federal law. The former federal law enforcement official said the finding in the January IG letter represents a potential violation of USC 18 Section 793, “gross negligence” in the handling of secure information under the Espionage Act. Senator Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee called the story nothing new.
None of the emails that are alleged to contain classified information were written by Secretary Clinton. The question of whether she received emails with classified information has nothing to do with any action taken by Secretary Clinton,” she said. “Additionally, none of the emails that were sent to Secretary Clinton were marked as including classified information, a requirement when such information is transmitted.”
Feinstein said the inspector general was being used for “baldly partisan attacks.”