Hillary Campaign: Withholding of Emails Just 'Over-Classification Run Amok'

Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a rally at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign insisted today that the former secretary of State wants the release of more than 20 emails determined to have contained top-secret information, calling the withholding “over-classification run amok.”

The State Department is scheduled to release about 2,000 new pages of emails today in response to a Freedom of Information Act request — but explained Thursday night in a federal court filing that the department would miss the deadline for releasing the final 7,000 pages because they hadn’t all gone through review by relevant agencies.

“Defendant U.S. Department of State (‘State’) has produced more than 43,000 pages of the emails of former Secretary of State Clinton (‘the Clinton emails’) in just over seven months. It has approximately 9,000 more pages to go. During this enormously complex undertaking, State missed sending to some of the necessary agencies approximately 7,000 pages that it had identified as requiring interagency consultation,” said the filing.

“This error did not come to light until three weeks before the January 29 deadline set by the Court for the final production of Clinton emails. Since discovering its oversight, State has moved diligently to process the documents and send them to the appropriate agencies for review, a process that was interrupted by the blizzard that struck Washington, D.C., over the weekend.”

Then came today’s news that 22 emails will be withheld from release due to top secret classification.

The Associated Press reported that seven emails chains have information concerning “special access programs” not specified. The State Department’s Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus will investigate whether information in the censored emails was classified at the time they were sent. Clinton has maintained any classified information sent in emails using her private server received the classification later.

Very soon after the story broke — just a few days away from the first votes to be cast in the 2016 presidential primaries — Hillary for America press secretary Brian Fallon said “we firmly oppose the complete blocking of the release of these emails.”

“Since first providing her emails to the State Department more than one year ago, Hillary Clinton has urged that they be made available to the public. We feel no differently today,” Fallon said in a statement. “After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails.

“This flies in the face of the fact that these emails were unmarked at the time they were sent, and have been called ‘innocuous’ by certain intelligence officials. We understand that these emails were likely originated on the State Department’s unclassified system before they were ever shared with Secretary Clinton, and they have remained on the department’s unclassified system for years. And, in at least one case, the emails appear to involve information from a published news article,” he continued.

“This appears to be over-classification run amok. We will pursue all appropriate avenues to see that her emails are released in a manner consistent with her call last year.”

The Republican National Committee was already after Hillary today for the State Department delay in clearing out the rest of her emails.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called the State Department’s court filing “further proof that the Obama administration would rather flaunt an order from a federal judge than reveal just how badly Hillary Clinton’s reckless conduct jeopardized our national security.”

“The notion that a months-long process could be hit with 11th hour delays reeks of political favoritism designed to hide the ball from voters on the eve of early state voting,” Priebus said. “The State Department’s failure to send thousands of pages of emails for review by other agencies indicates there are potentially more damaging revelations involving Clinton’s exposure of classified material on her secret email server.”

“Voters deserve to know the facts before they cast their ballots, not after. Hillary Clinton’s actions violated the public trust and now it appears the Obama administration is content to do the same.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that Clinton’s “extraordinary request” to have her emails released “is something that, I’m not sure has a precedent, at least for federal office holders.”

“So, the fact is, the Democratic primary voters, to the extent that they’re interested in reading those e-mails, and I’m not sure very many of them are, but to the extent that they are, have already had the opportunity to review tens of thousands of them — at least tens of thousands of pages of them,” Earnest said.

“And you know, so again, the State Department is going to work hard to fulfill both the request that was made by Secretary Clinton, and consistent with the — you know, the direction of the judge,” he added.