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GOP Slams Hillary on New Emails: 'Reckless Attempt' to Bypass Laws

GOP Slams Hillary on New Emails: 'Reckless Attempt' to Bypass Laws
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By    |   Friday, 31 July 2015 07:41 PM EDT

Republicans Friday slammed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton amid revelations that she kept classified documents from five government agencies on her private server and that many of trove of emails newly released by the State Department had been censored because the Obama administration deemed the information to sensitive to make public.

"Today’s email dump shows Hillary Clinton put even more sensitive government information at risk on her secret email server than previously known," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "Hillary Clinton’s reckless attempt to bypass public records laws put our national security at risk and shows she cannot be trusted in the White House."

Of the 2,206 pages of emails released on Friday, the administration censored passages to protect national security at least 64 times in 37 messages, including instances when the same information was blacked-out multiple times.

Clinton has said she never sent classified information from the private email server in her home in New York. Her decision to not use a State Department email account continues to be a political problem for her amid heavy Republicans criticism.

However, David Kendall, Clinton's attorney, has back-up copies of the emails on a thumb drive in his Washington office. This also has sparked outrage among GOP legislators — and some analysts said Friday that storing the emails on the private serve and thumb drive might be illegal.

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called Kendall's back-up of the emails "a serious breach of national security if the United States government fails to secure classified material in the hands of people not authorized to possess it, no matter who they are.

"There are fundamental questions as to what the FBI is doing to securing these classified emails and why the State Department is not fully cooperating with the inspectors general at the State Department and the Intelligence Community to ensure that all of the appropriate emails are identified," the Iowa senator said.

"It’s important to make sure that politics aren’t taking precedence over national security."

Grassley wrote FBI Director James Comey Friday asking him to explain what the agency was doing to ensure that the information on Kendall's thumb drive was secured and not further disseminated.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, wrote Kendall on Wednesday asking him to explain what he’s done to "safeguard the classified material in (his) possession," McClatchy reports.

"The lax storage and safeguarding of this information could have serious consequences to national security," Johnson wrote.

That Clinton kept the emails on her private server — and, with Kendall now holding the back-up copies — may violate federal laws governing the storage and removal of classified information, national security attorney Edward MacMahon Jr. said.

"In most situations like this, you'd expect that a warrant would be issued and that the Marshals and the feds — FBI, somebody — would go and get that thumb drive and take it somewhere where it would be considered safe by the government," MacMahon told Fox News.

Among the major national security cases MacMahon has handled were the leak investigation of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in 2011.

Federal law describes the illegal removal and storage of classified information as when someone "knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location," Fox reports.

Punishment includes a fine or a prison term of "not more than one year."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch would not commit to any efforts to securing the classified data.

"The inspectors general for the State Department and at least one other IG are reviewing how material was handled," she told Fox. "We will review it as we review all referrals to us and take whatever steps are appropriate, if any, at this time."

Information on the emails came from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Nation-Geospatial Agency, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the CIA, according to Fox.

Among the censored emails was a brief exchange in October 2009 between Clinton and Jeffrey Feltman, then Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

She had emailed Feltman about an "Egyptian proposal" for separate signings of a reconciliation deal with the terrorist group Hamas after the group balked at attending a unity ceremony.

Both Clinton's email and Feltman's response are marked B-1 for "classified" and are completely censored from the email release.

A longer email sent the same day from Clinton to former Sen. George Mitchell, then the special envoy for Middle East Peace, is also censored as classified despite the fact that Clinton did not send the original message on a secure channel.

Mitchell later responded to Clinton that "the Egyptian document has been received and is being translated."

One other now-secret email involved a battle over whom to appoint as the head of the United Nations cultural agency.

The September 2009 issue was over the candidacy of an Egyptian official who had once threatened to burn Israeli books.

Huma Abedin, Clinton's longtime aide, on Sept. 22 forwarded to her boss a chain of emails from department staff summing up the maneuvering over the issue.

One sentence in that chain was released redacted, with a code for national security interests as the stated reason.

Previous emails released by the State Department revealed that Clinton received information on her private account about the deadly 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that was retroactively classified as "secret" at the request of the FBI.

The assaults killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, including two former Navy SEALS.

Clinton is expected to testify Oct. 22 before the special House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks. The panel is headed by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.

Other correspondence that could prove damaging for Clinton includes 2009 messages from former national security adviser Sandy Berger about how to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over negotiations with Palestinians.

Friday's release brings the volume of emails made public by the State Department to about 12 percent of the 55,000 pages Clinton had turned over to department lawyers earlier this year.

That falls short of the 15 percent goal set by a court ruling in May, a lag the State Department attributed to interest by the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community in the possible compromise of classified information.

Memos sent by the inspector general of the intelligence community alerted the FBI to a potential security violation arising from Clinton's use of a private server located in her home.

The inspector general said his office had found four emails containing classified information while reviewing a limited sample of 40 of the emails provided by Clinton.

Those four messages were not marked as classified but should have because they contained classified information at the time they were sent, the inspector general said.

Clinton has repeatedly defended her email usage, saying her private server had "numerous safeguards" and placing responsibility for releasing the documents on the State Department.

"They're the ones that are bearing the responsibility to sort through these thousands and thousands of emails and determine at what pace they can be released," she said after meeting with labor leaders Thursday in Maryland. "I really hope that it will be as quickly as possible."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Republicans Friday slammed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton amid revelations that she kept classified documents from five government agencies on her private server and that many of trove of emails newly released by the State Department had been...
hillary clinton, emails, classified, documents, republican, reaction
Friday, 31 July 2015 07:41 PM
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