Web Video: How Clinton’s emails can be made classified after the fact

Aug. 13, 2015 AT 12:20 p.m. EDT

Hillary Clinton turned over her personal email server to the Justice Department Tuesday, following new details that some of the emails contained classified information. Gwen Ifill learns more from Anita Kumar of McClatchy Newspapers.

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Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

GWEN IFILL: And there was other news on Hillary Clinton’s campaign today, her surprise move to turn her personal e-mail server over to the Justice Department. It followed new details that some of them contained classified information.

Secretary Clinton has been responding to questions about her e-mail correspondence for months.

HILLARY CLINTON, Democratic Presidential Candidate: I didn’t e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and didn’t send classified material.

I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. This is really a question for the State Department. They’re the ones that are bearing the responsibility to, you know, sort through these thousands and thousands of e-mails and determine at what pace they can be released. And, you know, I really hope that it would be as quickly as possible.

GWEN IFILL: We are joined now by Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers.

Anita, we just saw the way her questions have changed — her answers have changed ever so slightly over the summer. What is the difference between what she said in the answers to these questions when they first came up and what she is saying now?

ANITA KUMAR, McClatchy Newspapers: I think there is actually a lot of similarities.

She said — she stuck to the fact that she didn’t send or receive classified information. Now, her response has changed because she said she wouldn’t give up the server, she wouldn’t give up the thumb drives with the e-mails, and she’s clearly changed her mind about that.

But what she has said still is that she didn’t send or receive classified information.

GWEN IFILL: The other thing she said today in a statement that her campaign put out today was that she was only one four secretaries of state who were asked to turn over these e-mails who did. Is that so?

ANITA KUMAR: Yes, the investigation is actually into the five. They have looked at the last five secretaries of state and their aides, if they want to get those — they’re allowed to look at the aides.

Their jurisdiction is to look at the aides, so they are looking at that, but she has said, I have turned over more information than anyone else. She also was the last sitting secretary of state and probably had more e-mail than anyone.

GWEN IFILL: And probably the only one actually running for president.


GWEN IFILL: So let’s talk about what we think or what she has said is on this thumb drive in these classified server — or — not a classified server — private server that she turned over today. What do we think it — what does she say is in it?

ANITA KUMAR: Well, she says — so she had 60,000 e-mails on the server. It was everything that she e-mailed, personal and work e-mail while she was secretary of state for four years.

She turned 30,000 over to the State Department, and the others she said were personal and she wiped it clean. So it’s really unclear what’s on the server now. I have talked to experts who say you can get rid of everything on a server, and I have talked to experts who say, unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re not getting rid of everything.

GWEN IFILL: So when you say wiped clean, that’s not just simply deleting it for storage reasons?

ANITA KUMAR: If you delete for storage, it’s still there somewhere. You have to use the appropriate tools. And these are technology experts who say it depends really on the tools she used.

If someone is in this field and knows what they’re doing, they might be wiped clean.

GWEN IFILL: And you mentioned Clinton’s aides. They are being investigated on this front as well?

ANITA KUMAR: They are. The State Department inspector general told us this week that they’re looking into some of her top aides who did use personal e-mail for work as well. At least one aide also had an account on her — on Clinton’s private server.

GWEN IFILL: One of the things that Secretary Clinton has said is that she didn’t use — send anything to her home server that was classified at the time.


GWEN IFILL: What does that distinction mean, the difference between what’s classified, what is sensitive and what may have been just purely personal? Is there a distinction? And can you reclassify things?


ANITA KUMAR: You can classify later. And that’s basically what’s happening.

There were no markings that said this was — something was classified. And that’s really what she’s relying on. And her language is very clear. And she talks about the markings. There were no markings, she says. But what is happening now is that since the State Department is looking through them, they’re releasing them to the public, part of a lawsuit that says they have to release State Department e-mails, they’re looking through and they’re redacting things that need to be redacted.

Now, some of it is personal. They’re not listing someone’s e-mail address. It’s other things. This doesn’t mean it’s classified or top secret. But the inspector general for the intelligence community has started to look at these e-mails. And that’s where these five e-mails come in that he says are classified, not that they were at the time, but they should be classified.

GWEN IFILL: It is easy to confuse, especially when the person is running for president, a legal dilemma with a political dilemma. How is this being treated by all the parties, as a legal question or is it a mix of all of it?

ANITA KUMAR: Isn’t everything political?

GWEN IFILL: Yes, I suppose.

ANITA KUMAR: There are legal questions, there’s no doubt about it.

But the FBI, which is looking into the matter, the inspector generals of two agencies that are looking into it have been very clear that what they’re doing is not a criminal investigation at this time. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be at some point. It could be. We will see what happens, but they are pretty — they are very adamant she is not the target of a criminal probe right now. So that could change.

I think it’s really politics now. I’m not saying that no one did anything wrong, but the ramifications for her…

GWEN IFILL: The reason why it doesn’t go away.

ANITA KUMAR: Yes — is politics.

GWEN IFILL: But there is also a House investigation that is still outstanding.

ANITA KUMAR: Yes, there is a House investigation, and she’s going to testify October 22, so that will be a big deal.

And the other thing that keeps coming up is, the State Department is releasing the e-mails. They have to by — as part of a lawsuit. So at the end of every month — and we will see this at the end of August — we will see more e-mails. And every time a new batch comes out, there is all sorts of new stories to talk about.

GWEN IFILL: We know who will be reading them all.

Anita Kumar from McClatchy Newspapers, thank you very much.

ANITA KUMAR: Thanks so much.


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