Hillary got now-classified Benghazi information on private email

Hillary Clinton received now-classified information about the Benghazi attacks on her private email, documents released by the State Department on Friday show.

The department made public 296 emails from Clinton’s private server related to the congressional investigation into the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The emails are only a sliver of the 55,000 pages of emails Clinton gave State, but include all those related to the attack.

One email chain from State Department officials, forwarded to Clinton from an aide, Jake Sullivan, discussed the arrest of possible suspects. A note in the margin redacts a portion as “secret,” noting that the FBI classified the email on Friday. It indicates the email was classified because it referred to “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.”

{mosads}The AP first reported the existence of the email.

Brian Fallon, a press secretary for Clinton’s 2016 White House campaign, said on Twitter that the emails were classified only in recent days.  

The classified email is likely to add new fuel to the controversy over the 2016 contender’s use of a private server. Republican critics have argued that Clinton’s private server was vulnerable to hackers and posed a security risk.

Clinton addressed the matter again on Friday, saying she was “glad that the emails are starting to come out.”

“I’m aware that the FBI has asked that a portion of one email be held back, that happens in the process of Freedom of Information Act responses, but that doesn’t change the fact that all of the information in the emails was handled appropriately,” Clinton added.

State received the emails from Clinton late last year and turned them over to the House Select Committee on Benghazi in February. The documents span a two-year period from January 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012 and total approximately 850 pages of information.

House Republicans are pressuring State to hand over all emails from Clinton related to Benghazi ahead of her testimony before the panel. Clinton has agreed to come forward, but the two sides are battling over the conditions of her appearance.

The released emails include messages showing that Clinton’s State Department was concerned with the controversy over the administration’s initial explanation of the attack. Then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice at first blamed it on anger over an anti-Muslim video.

A note from Sullivan on September 24 praises Clinton’s handling of the attack in the days after.

“You were careful in your first statement to say we were assessing motive and method,” he wrote. “The way you treated the video in the Libya context was to say that some sought to ‘justify’ the attack on that basis.”

The released emails also include several messages from Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton aide, who sent her a memo blaming the 2012 attacks on backlash to an anti-Muslim video. Blumenthal, who had business interests with the Libyan transitional government, followed up the next day to tell Clinton he learned the attacks were instead part of a terrorist attack.

Then-Secretary Clinton forwarded both those emails on to Sullivan, even though Blumenthal did not work for State.

Blumenthal also sent her a number of other memos on the situation in Libya before and after the attacks, and she forward some to her colleagues at State.

Blumenthal has also been subpoenaed this week by the Benghazi committee and will testify by June 3.

The released emails also include messages from Christopher Stevens, a U.S. ambassador, killed in the attack.

The messages show a considerable amount of email traffic at the time Stevens arrived in Libya in 2011, in the midst of the country’s civil war.

The batch also includes one of his last emails, sent to Sullivan. The email involved on-the-ground intelligence Sullivan received from a source, possibly Blumenthal.

Stevens, by then ambassador, thanked Sullivan and described the conditions in the capital of Tripoli where voters had just voted for a transitional government.

“The atmosphere in Tripoli is very festive,” Stevens wrote on July 7. “The gov’t declared today a holiday and people are driving around honking and waving flags and making peace sign gestures.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, welcomed the release.

“Instead of the selective leaking that has happened so far, the American people can now read all of these emails and see for themselves that they contain no evidence to back up claims that Secretary Clinton ordered a stand-down, approved an illicit weapons program, or any other wild allegation Republicans have made for years,” he said in a statement.

“The Select Committee should schedule Secretary Clinton’s public testimony now and stop wasting taxpayer money dragging out this political charade to harm Secretary Clinton’s bid for president,” he added.

Panel Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) disagreed, noting that the messages were provided to the State Department only after Clinton’s lawyers went through them.

“To assume a self-selected public record is complete, when no one with a duty or responsibility to the public had the ability to take part in the selection, requires a leap in logic no impartial reviewer should be required to make and strains credibility,” he said in a statement.

Clinton has admitted deleting a number of her emails she claims were private before sharing the remaining batch with State.

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, said the panel wouldn’t “reach any investigative conclusions until our work is complete, but these emails continue to reinforce the fact that unresolved questions and issues remain as it relates to Benghazi,” he said.

He repeated his calls for Clinton to turn over her server to a “a neutral, detached, independent third party for review.”

“The committee’s interest is in building a complete record from which the final, definitive accounting regarding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi can be provided. The best way to answer all questions related to the attacks in Benghazi continues to be having access to the full public record, not a ‘record’ controlled, possessed and screened exclusively by Secretary Clinton’s personal lawyers.”

This story was updated at 3:02 p.m.

Tags Hillary Clinton Trey Gowdy

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