State Department releases last batch of Hillary Clinton's emails
The State Department released its final batch of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails on Monday.
The 3,800 pages of documents constituted the last of about 52,000 pages of work-related emails recovered from Clinton's personal account on the private server she used to conduct State Department business.
Although Clinton has denied that any information she sent or received was marked classified at the time, more than 2,000 messages have been redacted due to material that is now deemed classified. At least 22 emails have been found to contain information that is "top secret" or even more sensitive. Several exchanges between Clinton and President Obama are also being withheld citing executive privilege.
One email regarding North Korea's nuclear program that was originally considered "top secret" by the intelligence community is now only classified at the lower level of "secret," a State Department spokesman told reporters Monday. Unclassified emails between Clinton and President Obama are being withheld due to executive privilege, and one unclassified message is not being released because of connections to an unspecified law enforcement matter.
Documents released Monday that are classified as secret include memos from then-Senator John Kerry written after meeting with foreign generals, an email chain about an Associated Press story on drone strikes, and portions of a message from Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal about Kyrgyzstan.
Clinton claims that she used her personal email instead of a state.gov account for "convenience," but critics have alleged that she was trying to circumvent federal public records laws. Her attorneys did not turn over to the State Department thousands of emails that she considered personal.
The handling of classified information on Clinton's server has been under investigation by the FBI, although it is unclear whether Clinton herself is the subject of that probe and whether it will result in any criminal charges during the election season.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Fox News anchor Bret Baier Monday that there is no "artificial deadline" on the investigation.
"What's most important is to follow the facts, follow the law, and come to an independent conclusion as to what may or may not have happened," Lynch said.
The State Department had been ordered by a federal judge to release all of Clinton's work-related messages by the end of January, but it was unable to complete the security review process in time. The judge then set four dates in February for additional documents to be released, timing them before pivotal Democratic primaries and caucuses.
The final deadline was February 29, the day before the Super Tuesday primaries. Clinton holds a substantial leads in polls in many of the states voting Tuesday, but exit polls from earlier races have indicated that voters who prioritize honesty and trustworthiness in a candidate are strongly favoring opponent Bernie Sanders.
Journalists were still reviewing the latest release on Monday afternoon, but previous documents have not contained anything particularly damaging to Clinton. Some questions have been raised about the timeline of her comments surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attacks, but the redactions have made it difficult for the public to judge whether her use of the private server truly endangered national security or violated federal law, as her critics have claimed.
Clinton has faced tough questions from the media and Republicans over her email practices since they were revealed last year, but Sanders has largely sidestepped the issue. If Clinton receives the Democratic nomination, though, Republicans are sure to make it a major talking point in the general election campaign.