On Monday, the State Department released 4,000 more messages that the former secretary of state sent or received on a private email account and a so-called “homebrew” private server.
But the attached revelations that some 150 others have been retroactively classified has only heightened suspicions about the Democratic frontrunner, whose email activity is currently under FBI investigation.
Republicans have seized on Clinton’s conduct, highlighting the potential criminal nature of mishandling classified information.
“I think it’s been very damning,” former Florida governor and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush told Fox News on Tuesday. “She’s got a serious problem for sure.”
“What did Hillary know and when did she know it?” asked law professor Nathan Sales of Syracuse University College of Law.
Sales points to some of the classified data believed to have been transmitted via email to Clinton, particularly material that an inspector general told Congress in July should have been marked “Top Secret” and “TK,” or “Talent Keyhole.” That top-level designation refers mainly to satellite imagery or intercepts from the intelligence community, data Sales said would be “so obviously sensitive that anybody with a security clearance would know not to send it.”
He said someone at the State Department could be indicted over the emails.
“The million-dollar question is whether Clinton herself can be held criminally liable,” he added.
Clinton first insisted that there was “no classified material” in her emails. But she shifted weeks later on the campaign trail, telling reporters the emails on her server were not marked classified at the time they were sent.
An indictment of Clinton is still “remote at this stage,” Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University, noted.
“But her problem is not just legal. She’s already taken a huge hit in perceptions of her as someone who is trustworthy.”
Even if Clinton wins her party’s nomination, Black said concern could linger. Independents, whom she would need in order to win, would prove a problem for her.