Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact.com | Tampa Bay Times

PolitiFact: Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's claim she never sent, received classified information on personal email

Saturday's news that Hillary Clinton spent more than three hours speaking with the FBI bled into the Sunday news shows, with Clinton again saying she did not send or receive material marked classified through the private email server she used while secretary of state.

"Let me just repeat what I have repeated for many months now," Clinton told NBC's Chuck Todd in a phone interview following her interview with investigators. "I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified."

The line has been part of Clinton's defense since at least August. Back then, PolitiFact hesitated to rate Clinton's claim because of the fluidity of events and the ongoing investigation.

Eleven months later, we wanted to take a fresh look.

Classified, after

The public became aware that Clinton used a private email server in March 2015. Eventually, Clinton turned over about 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department for public release.

The State Department redacted about 2,000 of those emails before releasing them, saying they contain classified information — including some that have been withheld entirely because they contain "top secret" information.

Clinton's statement focuses on a much narrower and potentially misleading point — that Clinton sent or received material she knew was classified because it was marked.

None of the emails the State Department redacted, or any other emails made public, contained classification markings at the time they were sent, government officials said.

The possibility remains, however, that she sent or received classified information that was inappropriately left unlabeled — or that Clinton, as head of the department, failed to recognize and deal with information that should have been classified.

Further, because Clinton used a private server, we only have Clinton's word that she turned over all relevant email. It's possible there are emails with classified information on them that she deleted or did not turn over.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, said Clinton is carefully picking her words.

"On the one hand, I believe that sentence is likely accurate," Brian told PolitiFact. "But I also believe that it is so carefully crafted as to avoid a more important question, which is whether there was information in her email that should have been marked classified."

The plot only gets more complicated.

While we know officials retroactively classified portions of emails on Clinton's private server, we do not yet know if any of those emails contained classified information when they first landed in Clinton's server. It's possible that emails that were not marked classified contained classified information.

There's also some disagreement between the State Department and the intelligence community over what was or should have been treated as classified. Government agencies regularly disagree over what should be classified or not, and transparency advocates say the government regularly over-classifies.

Clinton's specific phrasing — that she never sent or received material "marked classified" — is likely a critical point for investigators, as it's relevant to the question of Clinton's intent and whether she knowingly mishandled material.

In that sense, Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said Clinton's claim might not be misleading.

But it's also true, Aftergood said, "that statement alone does not answer all possible questions about the matter."

Our ruling

Clinton said, "I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified."

One of the principles of PolitiFact is not only to judge the facts behind a claim, but to investigate whether a statement leaves a particular impression that may be misleading.

Clinton is focusing on a technical aspect of the government chain of classification, that information contained within her private email server wasn't "marked" classified. There is no evidence Clinton knowingly sent or received classified information.

But the government classification system is complicated, and Clinton fails to acknowledge that classified information could have moved through her email server without a proper label. Part of the problem is Clinton's private server itself, because only she and her team know what was in the emails she deleted.

We rate her claim Half True.

Read the full fact-check at PolitiFact.com.

The statement

"I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified" on her private email server while she was secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton, in an interview on MSNBC

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Half True

Overall, Clinton is focusing on a technical aspect of the government chain of classification, that information contained within her private email server wasn't "marked" classified. But the government classification system is complicated, and Clinton fails to acknowledge that classified information could have moved through her email server without a proper label. We rate the claim Half True.



PolitiFact: Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's claim she never sent, received classified information on personal email 07/03/16 [Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2016 9:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.