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Hillary, Democrats in a Scramble to Calm Supporters

Image: Hillary, Democrats in a Scramble to Calm Supporters
Tense Moments: Hillary Clinton (Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 13 Aug 2015 09:37 AM

Hillary Clinton's embattled presidential campaign scrambled Wednesday to calm supporters and fellow Democrats — and push back at suggestions the handoff of her private email server to the FBI is an admission of any wrongdoing.

With new polls showing she is behind Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire and her lead slipping in other early voting states, Democrats are increasingly worried a long and protracted scandal could ruin the party's chances at the White House, reports The Hill.

"I’m not sure they completely understand the credibility they are losing, by the second," one Democratic operative told The Hill, anonymously.  "At some point this goes from being something you can rationalize away to something that becomes political cancer. And we are getting pretty close to the cancer stage, because this is starting to get ridiculous."

In an email to supporters, campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri slammed GOP criticism as "nonsense" and "misinformation" – and then spent 700 words explaining why, The Hill reports.

"Look, this kind of nonsense comes with the territory of running for president," Palmieri wrote, The Hill reports. "We know it, Hillary knows it, and we expect it to continue from now until Election Day."

Meanwhile, polls indicate a growing vulnerability for the Democratic front-runner, while Business Insider reports her slide and the investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state could pose an uphill challenge in the important New Hampshire presidential primary.

Controversy swirling around Clinton's use of private email for her State Department work reignited with revelations that two emails contained top secret information.

The two were pulled out of a pool of 40 emails reviewed so far by the inspector general for the intelligence community, who says there may be hundreds of classified emails among the roughly 30,000 work-related emails Clinton has given to the State Department, The Hill reports.

"We're working with the director of national intelligence to resolve whether, in fact, this material is actually classified," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, The Hill reports.

"But in the mean time, we're taking steps clearly to ensure that the information is protected and stored properly."

But David Rivkin, a leading constitutional lawyer, tells Newsmax the breach is "stunning," and means Clinton could be subject, in theory, to "both civil and criminal penalties," depending on the outcome of the FBI investigation underway.

Republican critics are appalled.

"After months of false assurances from Secretary Clinton, we now know that she recklessly maintained a private server containing classified documents, some of which were classified at the highest level," California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement.

"The only remaining question is whether she will be held accountable for her actions."

By handing over her server and cooperating with the FBI, she's likely to be seen as a "cooperating witness for a potentially larger criminal investigation beyond Ms. Clinton herself," Dan Epstein, the executive director of Cause of Action, a conservative watchdog group, tells The Hill.

Hank Sheinkopf, a New York Democratic strategist and former Clinton aide told The Hill that the suspicion of wrongdoing is damaging the former secretary of state.

"It’s hard to imagine Americans in the heartland wondering about whether Hillary Clinton gave up an email server or not," he said. "But [it adds to] this constant battering she's taking, which is that people don’t trust her. It increases the feeling that something is not being told to them."

The Hill reports that whether or not Clinton broke the law depends on whether she herself sent emails containing classified information, recognized information in her inbox that she knew to be classified, or should have realized that information sent to her was obtained from a classified source.

"The $64,0000 question is will there be enough for DOJ [Department of Justice] to want to touch this political football," Bradley Moss, a lawyer who is representing Gawker in a lawsuit to obtain emails from Clinton’s aide, tells The Hill.

"And only time will tell on that."

The State Department claims the emails containing classified information weren't sent by Clinton, but merely "circulated" by lower level employees in 2009 and 2011, and spokesman John Kirby tells The Hill, "ultimately some were forwarded to Secretary Clinton."

"They were not marked as classified," he insisted.

"It's common for information previously considered unclassified to be upgraded to classified before being publicly released," Palmieri said in her note to supporters, The Hill reports. "Some emails that weren't secret at the time she sent or received them might be secret now."

"And sometimes government agencies disagree about what should be classified," she added, "so it isn't surprising that another agency might want to conduct its own review, even though the State Department has repeatedly confirmed that Hillary's emails contained no classified information at the time she sent or received them."

According to the intelligence community’s inspector general, the pair of emails in Clinton’s trove contained information classified as "top secret" — meaning it should not be shared even with foreign intelligence allies, The Hill reports, noting there were indications the material was obtained from electronic surveillance and from satellites.

There's no quick end of Clinton's troubles in sight: She's agreed to testify before an open hearing of the House committee investigating the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

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Hillary Clinton's embattled presidential campaign scrambled Wednesday to calm supporters – and push back at suggestions the handoff of her private email server to the FBI is an admission of any wrongdoing.
hillary clinton, campaign, calm, supporters, email, probe
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2015-37-13
Thursday, 13 Aug 2015 09:37 AM
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