Call for criminal probe over Clinton e-mails

One assessment found that Mrs Clinton's private e-mail account contained "hundreds of potentially classified e-mails".
One assessment found that Mrs Clinton's private e-mail account contained "hundreds of potentially classified e-mails".PHOTO: REUTERS

Justice Department asked to examine if sensitive information was mishandled

WASHINGTON • Two inspectors-general have asked the United States Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal e-mail account Mrs Hillary Clinton used when she was secretary of state, senior government officials said.

The request comes after an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors-general for the US State Department and the intelligence agencies, that Mrs Clinton's private account contained "hundreds of potentially classified e-mails". The memo was written to Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy .

It is not clear if any of the information in the e-mails was marked as classified by the State Department when Mrs Clinton sent or received them.

But since her use of a private e-mail account for official State Department business was revealed in March, she has repeatedly said she had no classified information on the account. The initial revelation was an issue in the early stages of her presidential campaign.

The Justice Department has not decided if it will open investigations, senior officials said.

A spokesman for Mrs Clinton's campaign declined to comment.

At issue are thousands of pages of US State Department e-mails from Mrs Clinton's private account. Mrs Clinton has said she used the account because it was more convenient. But it also shielded her correspondence from congressional and Freedom of Information Act requests. She faced criticism after her use of the account became public. She later said she would ask the State Department to release her e-mails.

The department is now reviewing some 55,000 pages of e-mails. A first batch of 3,000 pages was made public on June 30.

In the course of the e-mail review, US State Department officials determined that some information in the messages should be retroactively classified.

In the 3,000 pages that were released, for example, portions of two dozen e-mails were redacted because they were upgraded to classified status. But were not marked as classified at the time Mrs Clinton handled them.

In a second memo to Mr Kennedy, sent on Friday last week, the inspectors-general said at least one e-mail made public by the State Department contained classified information. They did not identify the e-mails or say what they were about. The memos were provided to the New York Times by a senior government official.

The inspectors-general also criticised the State Department for its handling of sensitive information, particularly its reliance on retired senior Foreign Service officers, to decide if information should be classified, and for not consulting intelligence agencies.

In March, Mrs Clinton said she was careful in her handling of information on her private account. "I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail," she said.

The revelations about how Mrs Clinton handled her e-mail have been an embarrassment for the State Department, which has been repeatedly criticised over its handling of documents related to her and her advisers.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'Call for criminal probe over Clinton e-mails'. Print Edition | Subscribe