It is the first time the White House has confirmed that the emails contain the highest classified level of government secrets.
The department also confirmed that its Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus will investigate whether the messages were top secret at the time they were sent, something Clinton has denied. The White House, and Clinton’s presidential campaign, have maintained the emails were given that classification retroactively.
The emails have dogged Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign for months, since it became known last year that she used a private, nongovernmental account and server for work-related correspondence while in office. Coming just days before the Iowa caucuses, the move is likely to increase scrutiny on the former secretary of state and her “unusual email arrangement,” The Hill reports.
Friday was the original deadline for the State Department to release all 55,000 of Clinton’s emails, but the agency asked for an extension on the court-ordered date due to “internal oversight and the snowstorm that battered the East Coast last week,” The Hill‘s Julian Hattem writes. “The new deadline for the final release of Clinton’s emails—Feb. 29—will be after the first four primary states have voted.”
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