- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell sent classified information from his private email account during his time in office, as did top aides to his successor, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a top Democrat revealed Thursday, saying it undercut the questions surrounding Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s own emails.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said two messages with now-classified information were sent to Mr. Powell’s private email account during his four years in office, while 10 messages were sent to aides of Ms. Rice. The emails were sent between 2003 and 2008, Mr. Cummings said, citing information from an inspector general.

Those 12 messages sent to the private accounts pale in comparison to the more than 1,500 messages Mrs. Clinton both received and sent during her four years in office, and that have now been deemed to contain classified information.

In none of the cases involving Mr. Powell, Mrs. Clinton or Ms. Rice’s aides was any of the information marked classified at the time, Mr. Cummings said.

In a statement, Mr. Cummings said the new revelations undercut Republican attempts to attack Mrs. Clinton over her emails.

“Based on this new revelation, it is clear that the Republican investigations are nothing more than a transparent political attempt to use taxpayer funds to target the Democratic candidate for president,” he said.

The State Department has previously said that Ms. Rice herself didn’t use email much during her time in office, but Mr. Powell did, and used a personal account for some government business — the same charge that’s been leveled at Mrs. Clinton.

The department had asked Mr. Powell to turn over any government business messages, but he said they were long deleted and the account closed.

Mr. Cummings demanded the State Department provide him copies of the 12 new messages identified in the new review.

Mrs. Clinton refused the department’s email system and set up an account tied to a server at her home in New York because she said it was more convenient for her. The State Department has said such an arrangement violated its policy.

Initially Mrs. Clinton said she never sent or received any classified information on her account, but later modified that statement, saying she never sent any information that was marked classified at the time.

Her emails are being released in batches under a court order imposing transparency, but with nearly 27,000 messages released so far, 22 have been deemed “top secret” and withheld in their entirety, while 19 have been dubbed “secret” and released in heavily redacted form, and more 1,550 have been designated “confidential,” which is the lowest level of classification.

A scan of the confidential and secret emails indicates that they contained information either about, or gleaned from, foreign governments, which under federal rules should automatically be treated as classified.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign seized on the news, saying it showed the government was going too far in slapping a classified tag on emails.

“This announcement about Secretary Powell’s emails shows just how routine it is for government bureaucrats to go overboard when it comes to judging whether information is too sensitive for the public to see,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said.

GOP operatives, though, said Mrs. Clinton’s behavior still stood out because she maintained her own server at her home — a move that top defense and security experts said left her communications open to snooping by foreign governments.

“The fact remains Secretary Clinton is the only cabinet official to ever house and maintain a private server in her basement that contained all of her work and personal emails,” said Jeff Bechdel, communications director for America Rising, a Republican political action committee that has dogged Mrs. Clinton over her emails. “The security of that server and the risk it posed to national security is at the heart of the FBI’s ongoing investigation — not 12-year-old emails sent to secretaries of past administrations.”

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