Attorney General Loretta Lynch's Justice Department has been asked by two inspectors general to launch a probe of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified government information while using a private email account while she was secretary of state.
The New York Times
, which was the first to report the development, cited unnamed sources saying that the request was criminal in nature.
The Wall Street Journal
reported Friday that a Justice Department official initially confirmed that a criminal investigation had been requested, but later reversed its position without comment.
"The department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral," said an official.
Inspectors general for the State Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are seeking the investigation after writing two memos on the subject to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management, copies of which the Times said were provided to it.
The conclusion of the memos was that Clinton's private email account had "hundreds of potentially classified emails," Fox News
The inspectors general said that at least one email that had been made public by the State Department contained sensitive information, according to Fox News.
"She followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials," Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said Friday in a statement.
"As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted," Merrill said.
Since the existence of the private email account was uncovered in March, Clinton has insisted that she never sent classified information from her private account, Politico
"I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email," she said in March. "There is no classified material. So I'm certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material."
However, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community told Congress in a letter Friday that an internal review discovered that Clinton's email included intelligence material that should have been "secret" — the second highest level of classification — at the time it was sent, The Wall Street Journal
"We are working with both the State IG and the Intelligence Community's Inspector General to ensure that our review of former Secretary Clinton's emails is completed in a manner that protects sensitive and potentially classified information," said Alec Gerlach, a State Department spokesman, in a statement, according to Politico.
The State Department is evaluating 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over from her private account. To date, the department has released 3,000 pages, some of which had redactions.
Roughly 25 of the emails were retroactively deemed to be classified.
Secretary of State John Kerry, asked about the probe request NBC Friday morning, said he expected "it'll be cleared up."
"All I know is what I've read today and learned today. Inspectors Generals operate completely independently, that’s why they were put there," Kerry said.
After the Times published the story late Thursday, significant changes were made in response to complaints from Clinton's representatives.
"Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, she followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials. As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted," Merrill said, Politico reported.
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