Part of an e-mail sent to Hillary Clinton in 2012 was marked “secret” on Friday and withheld from the public, fueling Republican demands for an independent review of her private mail server.
The e-mail, from aide Jacob Sullivan on Nov. 18, 2012, relayed information on the arrest of suspects in the fatal attack two months earlier on the U.S. outpost in Libya. Clinton has said she never used her private e-mail for sensitive information. Sullivan’s e-mail was made secret 2 1/2 years after it was sent, according to a note attached to the e-mail. No reason was given for the reclassification.
“The fact that Hillary Clinton had classified information on her private e-mail server underscores the need for her to turn it over to a third party for independent review,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
Clinton as secretary of state from 2009 until February 2013 used a private e-mail account that was routed through a server at her suburban New York home. She had defended using the private address, and said Friday that all the messages had been handled properly.
“I’m aware that the FBI has asked that a portion of one e-mail be held back,” Clinton told reporters after a campaign stop in New Hampshire for her president bid. “That happens in the process of Freedom of Information Act responses, but that doesn’t change the fact that all of the information in the e-mails was handling appropriately.”
The State Department said the former secretary didn’t violate any requirements by using the private e-mail or handling the message from her aide.
“This information was not classified at the time” the e-mail was written, Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters.
On whether it suggests this was potentially sensitive information that Clinton perhaps shouldn’t have sent on her private e-mail, Harf said that at the time “there was no prohibition as to the use of public e-mail.”
While FBI has now upgraded information in that e-mail to classified,“the occurrence of a subsequent upgrade does not mean anyone did anything wrong.”
In fact, the information wasn’t classified when it was sent but only when FBI raised a issue regarding public release of the e-mail applying the standards for public disclosure of government records.
The State Department on Friday released Clinton’s e-mails related to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, which has been under investigation from a congressional committee. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and a nearby CIA outpost.
The 296 e-mails posted on a department website are a fraction of more than 30,000 work-related messages Clinton, now a Democratic presidential candidate, turned over from her private e-mail server.