Hillary's email troubles deepen

Hillary's email troubles deepen
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Federal officials on Friday confirmed they have been asked to investigate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE’s use of a private email server as secretary of State, deepening the political controversy surrounding the 2016 Democratic front-runner.

Clinton and her team fiercely pushed back at reports that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to look into whether sensitive information was mishandled in connection with her private account.

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“Maybe the heat is getting to everybody,” Clinton quipped during an economic address in New York City in which she decried “inaccuracies” in the reports.

But the reports gave a new opening to congressional Republicans, who seized the opportunity to renew their calls that Clinton hand over her personal server as part of their investigation in the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The news overshadowed an Clinton's speech and accentuated a challenging week for her campaign marked by a new poll showing her losing head-to-head match-ups with three top GOP White House contenders in the swing states of Virginia, Colorado and Iowa.

Republicans have seized on the revelation that Clinton used a private server while heading the State Department to paint her as untrustworthy, an issue where polls suggest she is vulnerable.

This week’s poll by Quinnipiac University showed large majorities of voters in Iowa, Virginia and Colorado — three swing states Democrats hope to win — do not find her honest and trustworthy. The margin in the Colorado poll between those who don't trust her and those who do was almost 2-to-1.  

The new email troubles started late Thursday, when The New York Times reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to determine “whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account” of Clinton.

A second report by The Wall Street Journal on Friday said the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community told Congress in a letter that at least four emails out of a small sampling of 40 from her Clinton’s server should have been classified as "secret."

Clinton argued the reports were misleading, and media outlets backtracked on an initial report that watchdogs had requested a “criminal probe,” something Justice said was incorrect.

“We all have a responsibility to get this right, I have released 55,000 pages of emails, I have said repeatedly that I will answer questions in front of the House committee,” Clinton said at her address in New York, where she outlined a tax plan and endorsed New York’s move toward a $15 minimum wage.

“We are all accountable to the American people to get their facts right, and I will do my part, but I will also stay focused on the issues,” added Clinton, who let her frustration with the stories show.

Democrats rallied to Clinton’s defense, characterizing the referral from the federal watchdogs as routine.

“It is appalling that people who want to attack Secretary Clinton continue to leak inaccurate information to generate bogus stories and front-page headlines,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi who has become a vocal defender of Clinton.

Still, the news that watchdogs are requesting a deeper investigation of the emails ensures the fight over the private server will go on, creating a persistent headache for Clinton.

“If Secretary Clinton truly has nothing to hide, she can prove it by immediately turning over her server to the proper authorities and allowing them to examine the complete record,” Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

“What these reports demonstrate is the inherent risk of conducting our nation’s diplomacy and foreign policy on your home email and personal server,” he added. “Her poor judgment has undermined our national security and it is time for her to finally do the right thing.”

The government watchdogs that made the referral on Friday afternoon issued a joint statement explaining their concerns.

“This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system,” the inspectors general for the State Department and intelligence community said.

The watchdogs said the “main purpose” of their referral to Justice “was to notify security officials that classified information may exist on at least one private server and thumb drive that are not in the government’s possession.”

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyCongressional investigators make first evidence requests in Russia nuclear bribery case Dem demands documents from TSA after scathing security report Dems find an unlikely attack dog on Russia MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Benghazi Committee, homed in on the question of whether Clinton ever sent classified material on her personal server.

“There is clearly sufficient cause to examine the contents of said server for the presence of other classified information,” Gowdy said in a statement.

Back in March, when Clinton confirmed the use of her personal email account, she categorically denied sending emails on it that contained classified information.

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material,” Clinton said at the time. “I’m certainly aware of the classified requirements and did not send classified material.”

Congressional Republicans have tried to hang those words around her neck, and they are likely to pound the issue in the weeks to come as they seek a forensic analysis of her email server.

Gowdy said he “appreciates” that the agency watchdogs involved “have confirmed this is a serious and nonpartisan national security matter by any objective measure.”

Despite the rekindled controversy, Clinton pressed on at the previously scheduled speech, making her brief fiery comments before shifting back to her economic message.

As she left the stage, the Gym Class Heroes song “The Fighter” echoed from the speakers.

— Updated at 5:25 p.m.