The State Department confirmed Monday that the FBI is looking into former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s email server, filing a notice with a federal judge laying out the vague outlines of the investigation.
The FBI’s chief attorney wrote the State Department on Feb. 2 to officially acknowledge the probe, correcting the record from last year, when the FBI refused to say one way or the other whether it was looking into the matter.
“Since that time, in public statements and testimony, the bureau has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server,” James A. Baker, the FBI attorney, said in the letter.
He said the FBI has not publicly detailed the focus or scope of the probe and that he wouldn’t broach those issues at this time because it could hurt the investigation.
The State Department filed the letter with the federal court in Washington on Monday.
The department faces several dozen lawsuits demanding emails from Mrs. Clinton and her top aides, who used accounts outside the State.gov system to conduct government business during her time in office.
The FBI investigation has hurt Mrs. Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
On Monday, campaigning in New Hampshire, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio said the country cannot elect a president who is under FBI investigation.
The most recent release of Mrs. Clinton’s emails found more than 26 percent of them contained information that the government now deems classified or secret. Another 22 messages have been deemed “top secret” and can’t be released even in part.
Mrs. Clinton said none of the messages was marked classified at the time she sent or received them and that the Obama administration has overused secrecy tags for her messages.
Last week, the State Department revealed that former Secretary Colin L. Powell had a handful of email messages that contained information that the department now deems sensitive enough to be classified, as did several aides to former Secretary Condoleezza Rice.
Ms. Rice and Mr. Powell served under President George W. Bush.
The Republican National Committee seized on the FBI’s confirmation of the investigation, saying it contradicts Mrs. Clinton’s allies’ claim that the probe is looking only into the security situation of the server and not her handling of classified information.
“The FBI’s announcement confirms the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server is far from the routine ‘security review’ she has claimed,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Clinton’s conduct was a severe error in judgment that grossly endangered our national security and put highly classified information at risk. This development is another reminder Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted with the presidency.”
The State Department was to have released all of Mrs. Clinton’s government-related emails by now but blamed last month’s snowstorm in Washington, as well as a bungle by its own employees who never sent thousands of key messages for review by other agencies.
Administration officials asked for a monthlong delay to release the final 5,000 critical messages at the end of February — after the first four states vote in the Democratic nominating contests.
A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to learn more about that delay.
⦁ Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report from New Hampshire.