The State Department will release the final batch of Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump clamps down on federal agencies Mellman: First things first? Dems indignant as Comey keeps his job MORE’s emails on Monday, some 10 months after the process began.
The release comes just ahead of 11 Super Tuesday contests, which Clinton hopes will propel her to a commanding lead over Bernie SandersBernie SandersVoter fraud allegations reignite squabble Mulvaney vows to give Trump straight talk on entitlements Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador MORE in the Democratic presidential race.
With the releases now nearing an end, Republicans have seized on the fact that more than 1,800 emails from her machine were eventually classified.
“What we’ve learned in this discovery is that Hillary Clinton trafficked in sensitive information over her unclassified — and, by the way, private — email system,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the former head of the House Oversight Committee, told The Hill on Friday.
Clinton’s presidential campaign and the State Department have both disputed that the emails were classified at the time they were sent. Much of the information in them was classified retroactively, they say.
But the drips and drabs of information from various emails have carried the whiff of wrongdoing for Clinton.
One 2011 email released in January, for instance, seemed to show that Clinton ordered an aide to remove classification markings from a list of talking points and send it through a “nonsecure” channel.
Clinton subsequently insisted that no classified information was sent through unsecure means, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump huddles with Senate leaders ahead of Supreme Court battle Trump to announce Supreme Court pick next week Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on Supreme Court MORE (R-Iowa) released a statement calling the disclosure “disturbing.”
The State Department began releasing the roughly 55,000 pages of Clinton’s emails in May, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from Vice News journalist Jason Leopold.
On a monthly basis since then, the department released thousands of pages of emails for public review.
In January, the government claimed that an oversight prevented it meeting its initial deadline of Jan. 29 for the final email release. The delay meant that the messages — which some have speculated could contain the most sensitive information — would not be released until after the early contests in the Democratic presidential race.
In response, Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the government to release emails four times over the course of February.
State Department officials worked through the weekend to make the final emails public, spokesman Mark Toner said ahead of time.
The previous release of Clinton’s emails, on Friday, brought the total number of classified emails from the server up to 1,818. Another 22 emails were last month classified at the highest level of “top secret” and were not deemed safe for release even in heavily redacted form.
“The number keeps rising,” said Issa, who has accused Clinton of using her private email setup to deliberately bypass federal recordkeeping and transparency laws. “At one it could be an accident, at two, at 10 — somewhere between half a dozen and 1,750, it became a policy that she was knowingly doing.”
On Friday, Toner declined to say whether the State Department would refuse to release any more emails that it was labeling top secret.
“We’re still reviewing them,” he said.
“I’m aware that there are, in fact, still conversations taking place between the various parts of the interagency, talking about some of the emails,” Toner added. “Those are ongoing but we hope to resolve them by Monday.”
Rep. Chris StewartChris StewartGOP lawmaker who compared Trump to Mussolini will vote for him House GOP files brief in ObamaCare case Third-party candidates roil presidential race in Utah MORE (R-Utah), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has previously claimed that there are at least seven more emails that will be classified at the highest levels.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Clinton’s top Democratic rival, has steadfastly refused to attack her on the email issues, representing the feeling by many Democrats that the attention on the matter is politically driven.
But even as one chapter ends for Clinton on Monday, a new one opens.
A federal court last week declared that former aides to Clinton must answer questions under oath about their knowledge of her “homebrew” email system. At issue in the case — one of dozens to emerge related to Clinton’s setup — is whether government officials thwarted open records laws in setting up and maintaining her system.
The new probe is sure to drag for months, likely into the general election.
“We believe there are things that she wanted to hide and it wasn’t just a poor error of judgment that led to this situation,” Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative legal watchdog pressing forward with the questions, Judicial Watch, told The Hill. “She didn’t want to be held accountable for her conduct in office.”
Fitton told The Hill that he expects the government will eventually review the approximately 30,000 emails that Clinton claimed to have deleted from her server because they were personal in nature.
“If anyone is surprised [that the issue isn’t going away] it means they were pretending they were being misled by the Clinton operation who were trying to dismiss just how disruptive her lawlessness was to the operations of the State Department and the national security interests of the United States,” he said.
Democrats similarly expect the saga to continue in some form.
“They’ll continue to beat this drum until Election Day,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who has defended Clinton repeatedly as the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Benghazi committees.
“I predict that they will stretch this thing out as long as they can in hopes that it will interfere with her candidacy,” he added. “While you would think that it would close one chapter — and close the book on it — the fact is that they’re not going to let it end.”