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Clinton Camp in Damage-Control Mode Over 'Top Secret' Emails

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By    |   Saturday, 30 January 2016 03:11 PM

With the Iowa caucus just days away, Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign quickly went into damage-control mode over the State Department's decision to withhold 22 emails containing "top secret" information found in emails on the private server she used while secretary of state.

"I never emailed anything that was considered to be classified," Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, told Dubuque, Iowa ABC affiliate KCRG on Friday, maintaining that she wants the withheld emails to be released.

"I'd love for people to see what I did and I hope that will happen," Clinton commented in the interview.

The Friday afternoon interview came as her campaign was issuing an official statement about the emails, in which it insists that she wants them released, not withheld by the State Department.

"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," the campaign said in a statement, reports The Weekly Standard.

"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.

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

On Friday, the State Department, while releasing yet another batch of the former secretary's emails, said the ones that were withheld were not labeled as classified when they were sent. The information was spread through seven email chains and 37 pages of documents.

"In consultation with the intelligence community, we are making this upgrade and we believe it's the prudent, responsible thing to do.," State Department spokesman John Kirby said, reports CBS News.

Kirby would not say what the topics were in the emails, or if Clinton herself had sent or received the information, but the announcement's timing came at an inopportune time, just two days before Monday's Iowa caucuses.

Her main rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, released a statement saying that he did not believe in politicizing the legal process, but her potential Republican rivals aren't being so generous, with many questioning if she is fit to seek the Democratic nomination with the spectre of legal charges hanging over her.

GOP candidate Ted Cruz told the Hugh Hewitt radio show Saturday that the State Department's findings and refusal to release the emails means the scandal is "far more serious" than had been sought, and he can't see how she can run for the presidency, reports Fox News.

But he also questioned if the Justice Department, which is part of the Obama administration, will indict Clinton at all.

"There is an acceptance that the enforcement of criminal justice is decided not by the laws of this country, but by some political hack in the West Wing of the White House. That is not how our Constitution is meant to operate," Cruz told the show.

But if Clinton is indicted, "it is difficult to see how she could successfully run for president. I would put nothing past the gall and audacity of the Clintons to try. But even the Democratic Party, I would find it hard to believe that they would be eager to nominate someone who is under indictment and could well face felony incarceration."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told reporters Friday, reports CBS, that had one of his staff on the Intelligence Committee had used a private server, "they'd have been fired and probably would have been prosecuted." Rubio hit Clinton hard again on Twitter and in a speech to Iowa voters 

And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has maintained that Clinton should be the main target of Republicans seeking the presidency, called her a liar: 

And Donald Trump tweeted: 

Clinton told NBC News anchor Lester Holt on Friday, in an interview just before the State Department made its announcement, that she doesn't "see it as anything that will in any way cause any voter to —a voter with an open mind — to have any concerns."

Clinton got a boost in the controversy through White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who on Friday praised her for her "extraordinary" request to release her emails, reports The Washington Free Beacon

"I think the extraordinary request that Secretary Clinton put forward to actually release her emails is something that I'm not sure has a precedent, at least for federal officeholders," Earnest said, in response to a question from Wall Street Journal reporter Byron Tau, who asked if voters have a right to see the emails before the primary election voting begins.

“So the fact is, the Democratic primary voters, to the extent that they’re interested in reading those emails—and I’m not sure very many of them are — but to the extent that they are, they have already had the opportunity to review tens of thousands of them,” Earnest continued, while admitting more work needs done, but the State Department has a plan to complete the release as soon as possible.

And when Tau asked if the White House is concerned over reports about Clinton's attitudes surrounding classified information and Clinton, Earnest responded that President Barack Obama has made it clear how sensitive information is handled.

"I know that Secretary Clinton and her team have said, on a number of occasions, that she neither sent nor received information on her private server that was stamped ‘classified,' Earnest said. "That is consistent with the proper handling of sensitive materials."

But as it is an election year, Earnest continued, "people are going to have a whole bunch of reasons to criticize any of the candidates. So it’s not surprising to me that there are certain political opponents of Secretary Clinton that are looking for a way to use this situation to criticize her. That is part of the process. And she and her team, I’m confident, will muster a robust defense.”

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With the Iowa caucus just days away, Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign quickly went into damage-control mode over the State Department's decision to withhold 22 emails containing top secret information found in emails on the private server she used while...
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Saturday, 30 January 2016 03:11 PM
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