The US State Department has classified as 'top secret' 22 of the e-mails sent through the former secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private computer server.
Mrs. Clinton has been under fire since last March for her decision to use a private server to host her work related e-mails. Since the e-mail scandal broke, Clinton has seen her trustworthiness and honesty questioned by Republicans and Democrats.
The Clinton 2016 presidential campaign responded that the 22 e-mails were not marked classified when she sent them. And a spokesman objected to the reclassification and withholding now.
"We firmly oppose the complete blocking of the release of these emails," Clinton campaign spokesman Brain Fallon told the Associated Press. "Since first providing her emails to the State Department more than one year ago, Hillary Clinton has urged that they be made available to the public. We feel no differently today."
Since the scandal broke last March, Clinton has maintained that nothing she sent contained classified material.
At a news conference at the United Nations last March, Clinton told the press that, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”
Clinton aide Fallon criticized the email review process, saying, “This is overclassification run amok.”
The inspector general of American intelligence agencies, I. Charles McCullough III, disagrees. In a letter to the US Senate, Mr. McCullough wrote that several of Clinton’s e-mails contained information pertaining to top secret or Special Access Programs (S.A.P.s), and therefore would have to be classified.
Officials say that while the e-mails may not have been marked as classified when they were sent, it is very possible that present circumstances dictate their updated status.
It is also possible that some of the e-mails may not have originated with Clinton herself. Some may have been written by other State Department officials, and then forwarded by Clinton aides.
Republican presidential candidates have responded predictably. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stated that the classified e-mails were proof that Clinton was unqualified to be president. Donald Trump echoed that sentiment in a tweet.
Other politicians, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California defended Clinton, saying that if certain of the classified e-mails did not originate with her, then she should not be held responsible for others’ actions.
Clinton’s campaign has in the past accused the intelligence community of working with Republicans to sabotage her campaign.
The reclassification of 22 e-mails could hurt Clinton’s chances in the polls. The Iowa caucus scheduled for Monday.
In a town hall meeting at Drake University in Iowa earlier this month, a student named Taylor Gipple asked Clinton why she felt that young people were less enthusiastic about her candidacy. Mr. Gipple cited the fact that many of his peers saw Clinton as less than honest. Friday’s revelation could further undermine the perception of Clinton’s trustworthiness.
It is also possible, however, that Clinton’s e-mail scandal may have reached the end of its usefulness, as fellow Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed out during a debate in mid-October.
"Let me say this. Let me say something that may not be great politics," said Mr. Sanders, “But I think the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!"