The state department on Friday said for the first time that some of Hillary Clinton’s emails passing through a private server she used as secretary of state contained “top-secret information”.
Seven email chains, precisely, or 22 emails, spread across 37 pages, the state department spokesperson said, adding, however, they were “not marked classified at the time they were sent”.
“The documents are being upgraded at the request of the Intelligence Community because they contain a category of top-secret information,” said John Kirby, the spokesman.
He went on to say those emails were not being included in the tranche of 1,000 additional pages from Clinton’s email account made public online on Friday.
That her emails contained top-secret information has been reported before based on leaked official documents but this was the first time they were acknowledged by the administration.
Clinton has already apologized for using a private server and her campaign moved quickly Friday to prevent the new revelations from impacting her White House run just two days before the Iowa caucuses.
“This appears to be over-classification run amok,” Brian Fallon, Clinton’s spokesperson, said in a statement, blaming it on “bureaucratic infighting” and “interagency dispute”.
He called for the emails to be released as the rest.
Clinton’s Democratic rival for the party nomination, Bernie Sanders, refused to attack her on her emails as before, but Republicans were not about to let her off the hook.
“The new e-mail release is a disaster for Hillary Clinton. At a minimum, how can someone with such bad judgement be our next president?” Donald Trump said in a tweet.
He called her a “major national security risk” in another tweet.
Many Republicans, and some Democrats, believe these emails could lead to Clinton being indicted on charges of mishandling confidential information, which could damage or end her run.
Clinton handed over 30,490 printed emails — about 55,000 pages — to the State Department for archiving in December 2014, after deleting as many that she said were personal.
This was prompted by a new rule introduced by National Archives then that government officials must not use personal emails for official use. Clinton had, so she turned them over.
It turned contentious gradually when it was reported that these emails were hosted on a private server, whose security could not be guaranteed, given the nature of information passing though it.
The state department had planned to release all by January 2016, but a court dealing with a Freedom Of Information Act petition ordered it to start releasing them in batches every 30 days.
The state department should have completed the process Friday, the last day as directed by the court. But it had sought, and was given, more time, with many pages still to be released.