The State Department is taking the line of Hillary Clinton’s that material in her personal email server was not classified at the time, and State is not accepting the intelligence inspector general’s determination that some information was top secret.
“None of them were classified at the time,” Mark C. Toner, State’s deputy spokesman, told reporters this week.
The assertion flies directly in the face of findings by both the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general who concluded that, while the material may not have been stamped as classified, Mrs. Clinton’s server held data that was classified then.
“We’re looking at, we’re trying to clarify their [intelligence community] findings and trying to resolve whether we think they need to be classified,” Mr. Toner said.
State is also refusing to accept the intelligence IG’s finding that some emails in a limited sample of Mrs. Clinton’s 30,000 delivered to State contained top secret material. The IG said it was specially compartmentalized to signify it pertained to communications intercepts and to military satellite imagery and, or, intercepts.
Said Mr. Toner on Wednesday “We have not seen anything at the TS [top secret] level yet.”
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This directly contradicts a memo sent on Tuesday by I. Charles McCullough III, the IG for the intelligence community, which includes 17 agencies.
The memo to House and Senate Intelligence committee leaders said an unspecified number of Clinton emails contained top secret information.
Mr. Toner told reporters, “We’re working with the director of national intelligence to resolve whether in fact this material is actually classified.”
Mr. McCullough, and his counter part at State, Steven Linick, took the extraordinary step on July 24 of issuing a joint statement that questioned that defense.
“These emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today,” they said.
They directly rebutted previous State Department statements that the material is classified today, but not when in sat in her server, while she was secretary of State. She left State in 2013 and is now the Democratic Party frontrunner for the presidential nomination.
Mr. McCullough sent a referral to the FBI. Agents are now investigating the security breach and took possession of Mrs. Clinton’s server, which she had wiped clean after selecting the 30,000 emails.
Mr. Toner’s stance isa public glimpse of the behind the scenes battle going on between Mr. McCullough’s office and Patrick F. Kennedy, under secretary of State for management.
Mr. Kennedy has rejected some of Mr. McCullough’s proposals for how to review the emails for classified information, according to a series of memos made public by Mr. Linick.
For example, Mr. McCullough wanted State to start storing the material in a computer network designed for “top secret.” Mr. Kennedy resisted.
In addition, State has refused Mr. McCullough’s request for copies of the 30,000 emails. Instead, intelligence officials are reviewing them at State.