Hillary Clinton email classification rate rises – Washington Times

It’s become a persistent critique of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, but at the time she uttered her famous “what difference … does it make” about the Benghazi terrorist attack to Congress in 2013, her inner circle thought she’d hit it out of the park.

“Great answer,” wrote one admirer. “She was incredible today,” another chimed in, as her own team gave each other virtual “high-fives,” believing they’d not only escaped a political trap but had demolished Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who provoked her fiery — and now infamous — retort.

Mrs. Clinton’s intense preparation and the post-showdown crowing from her team are all detailed in the latest batch of more than 5,000 emails from Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary, which the department released Monday in response to a court order.

SEE ALSO: Clinton’s server went down ‘for two weeks’ after Hurricane Sandy

Of the new messages, some 325 have information now classified as “confidential” and one has information deemed “secret” — for a classification rate of 6.3 percent. That’s the highest rate yet of any of the six monthly batches, dating back to June, when just 1.1 percent of her emails contained information not appropriate for public view.

“With the number of emails containing classified information now numbering nearly one thousand, this latest court-ordered release underscores the degree to which Hillary Clinton jeopardized our national security and has tried to mislead the American people,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

Most of the classified messages were exchanged with fellow State Department employees, but a few of them were between Mrs. Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and others involved Sidney Blumenthal, a controversial confidante of the Clintons.

Mr. Blumenthal was one of the most enthusiastic commenters on Mrs. Clinton’s Jan. 23, 2013, appearance before Congress to try to clear the air on her role in the Benghazi terrorist attack, which left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

He urged Mrs. Clinton to “always wear the glasses” — a reference to the spectacles she donned after suffering a concussion and blood clot that left her with vision problems in late 2012. Mr. Blumenthal then went on to call her Republican questioners “cretins and reptiles,” and predicted that female voters would punish the GOP for asking tough questions.

Mrs. Clinton made headlines with her combative reply back to Mr. Johnson, who prodded her on why the administration misjudged the reasons for the attack.

“What difference, at this point, does it make?” the former first lady and senator retorted. Her team thought it the right response, but much of the rest of the country disagreed, and the phrase has become a refrain in GOP attacks on Mrs. Clinton.

One discordant note came from former Clinton pollster Mark Penn, who in an email the night of the testimony told her to cool it: “I don’t think the emotion in the hearing works to your advantage — looks more like they rattled you on something no one outside the crazy right blamed you for anyway,” Mr. Penn said.

Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle disagreed, saying she “looked real.”

The new set of emails included messages from 2011, 2012 and 2013 — years that hadn’t been well represented in previous releases, but are in many ways more relevant to her current presidential campaign.

Among the revelations was that Mrs. Clinton lost email service for two weeks after Hurricane Sandy struck New York, knocking out the email server she kept at her home in Chappaqua. In a message to a friend in Illinois in mid-November, Mrs. Clinton apologized for having been off the grid, blaming the storm for “losing my internet/[Black]berry service.”

Her unique email arrangement sparked a furor that has lasted most of this year. By refusing an official State.gov account and using the server she herself set up, Mrs. Clinton shielded her messages from review by public records requests during her entire time at the State Department.

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