The Obama administration plans to withhold 22 emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. The shocking statement came with the reasoning that they were classified as “top secret,” the State Department said on Friday.
For many months now it has been feared by Washington insiders, lawmakers and pundits that Hillary’s major legal problems and the FBI investigation would become a political cover-up. The existence of the top secret emails in candidate Clinton’s inbox will only heighten public outrage in these closing days before the Iowa Caucuses Monday.
The Obama administration has confirmed that the 37-pages of email messages on Clinton’s server are at the highest levels of classification. Previous emails upon their release were judged by the State Department as lower classification levels. The latest top secret emails will not be made public at all.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement shared with The Hill, “These emails will be denied in full, meaning they will not be produced online on our FOIA (‘Freedom of Information Act’), website. In response to a FOIA request, it is not unusual to deny or withhold a document in full.”
Further enraging the public rumblings that this is a beginning of a major cover-up, Kirby said that the State Department would not explain the contents of the top secret emails. In a matter of hours, the Clinton presidential campaign mocked the State Department comments calling it “over classification run amok.”
What’s more grating to critics concerning the procedures being used to hide critically important emails from Clinton’s personal server. The State Department said on Friday that it would be similarly withholding 18 emails sent between Clinton and President Obama, “to protect the president’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel.”
Kirby claimed the specific emails “have not been determined to be classified. They are entirely separate and distinct from the emails that were upgraded.” Not long ago, it was the State Department and Clinton’s presidential campaign that said none of the information from her machine was classified at the time it was sent. They both claimed the classification was retroactive.
The latest news in the ongoing saga of former secretary of state Clinton’s personal server and its top secret emails, meant only for specific eyes, will likely alter the presidential race. Clinton’s rivals in the Republican Party will take full measures to accuse the Democratic front-runner of violating the law and jeopardizing U.S. secrets. After Friday’s revelations from the State Department, Republicans will even be more eager for the Justice Department to press charges.
In an almost comical news conference at the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest vehemently denied there was any effort to delay the release for political reasons. “I can tell you with full confidence that there has been no political interference in this process,” Earnest told reporters. From the gallery’s easily heard sighs, it was apparent the statement did not go over too smoothly. State Department spokesman Kirby also chimed in on Friday saying State’s request of a deadline extension was not due to the top secret documents.