The State Department confirmed Friday that 18 emails between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama “are being withheld in full” from the State Department’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act production of emails from a private server she used during her time as Secretary of State.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department in Washington, D.C. also told reporters that beyond the fact that the department could not meet the court’s due date for release of the emails and an extension was requested to February 29, there would be 1,000 additional pages from former Secretary Clinton’s email account available online. However, Kirby said, 37 pages would remain unavailable.
22 documents, 37 pages being held
Those withheld emails were at the request of the Intelligence Community, Kirby stated. “I can confirm that as part of this monthly FOIA production of former Secretary Clinton’s emails, the State Department will be denying in full seven email chains found in 22 documents, representing 37 pages. The documents are being upgraded at the request of the Intelligence Community because they contain a category of top secret information. These documents were not marked classified at the time that they were sent. We have worked closely with our interagency partners on this matter, and this dialogue with the interagency is exactly how the process is supposed to work. “
Issues of classification were addressed by Kirby as well. “As to whether they were classified at the time they were sent, the State Department, in the FOIA process, is focusing on whether they need to be classified today. Questions about classification at the time they were sent are being and will be handled separately by the State Department.
These emails will be denied in full, meaning that they will not be produced online on our FOIA website.”
According to Kirby “… it’s not unusual to deny or withhold a document in full. I’m not going to speak to the content of these documents. I understand there’s great curiosity. I’m just going to put that right out at the top – I am not going to speak to the content of this email traffic. We are aware that there’s intense interest, and we’re announcing this decision now because the FOIA process regarding these emails has been completed.”
In concluding his remarks on the emails, Kirby then addressed the exchanges between Obama and Clinton. “I’d like now to shift direction to a different aspect of today’s release, an entirely different aspect, which relates to emails exchanged between President Obama and then Secretary Clinton. As the White House has previously stated, Secretary Clinton and the President did on occasion exchange emails. As they have also said previously, such presidential records shall remain confidential to protect the President’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel but will ultimately be released in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.”
“I can confirm that 18 emails comprised of eight distinct email chains between former Secretary Clinton and President Obama are being withheld in full from the State Department’s FOIA production today of these emails of Secretary – former Secretary Clinton’s emails.”
The idea to withhold “presidential correspondence” Kirby stated was addressed before. “In response to a FOIA request, again, it is not unusual to deny or withhold a document in full. To be clear, the emails between then Secretary Clinton and President Obama have not been determined to be classified. They are entirely separate and distinct from the emails in today’s release that were upgraded to top secret, secret, or confidential, and I’m not going to speak again to the content of that email traffic.”