Kendall said he and Turner, a Williams & Connolly partner whose office contained the safe, according to The Washington Post, “hold Top Secret security clearances issued by the Department of State.”
Clinton’s use of a private email system, through a server set up at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., has increasingly become a topic the Democratic presidential contender is being forced to address on the campaign. Several pending lawsuits over Clinton records have drawn in lawyers from Big Law who are representing the former State Department secretary’s top aides.
According to the letter, Kendall handed over the three thumb drives to the Justice Department on August 6—in all, 30,490 emails sent and received by Clinton from 2009 to 2013. The communication was contained on one thumb drive and copied onto two others.
On December 5, 2014, he said he provided the State Department with “approximately 55,000 pages” of printed emails and while he kept the thumb drives “in secure storage.”
At the time, “[n]ot a single e-mail was marked as classified,” Kendall wrote in the letter to Johnson.
Kendall’s letter was a response to request for information that Johnson sent to Kendall, of counsel at Williams & Connolly, on July 29.
Johnson asked Kendall, a longtime lawyer for Clinton, to “explain how you have secured the thumb drive in your possession,” “identify all individuals who have had or currently have access to the thumb drive,” and “identify any partners or employees of Williams & Connolly, including yourself, who possess security clearances for the possession of and access to classified information issued by the Federal Government.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent Kendall a letter with similar requests on Monday. Grassley asked for responses by August 24.
The controversy over Clinton’s emails increased in recent weeks after the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community in July raised the issue of “potential compromise of classified information.”
The Justice Department on Monday said intelligence agencies had flagged 305 emails from Clinton’s account for further screening for whether they contained classified information. Clinton has publicly denied that she sent any classified information.
The letters between Johnson and Kendall contain some tension over the nature of the classified information.
“Recently, the Department of State has retroactively classified certain information in the emails,” Kendall wrote, identifying the specific dates of May 22, June 30 and July 31. “We consulted with the State Department and took appropriate measures to ensure the security of the newly classified information, including storing the thumb drives in a safe “provided by the Department and installed at Williams & Connolly on July 8, 2015.”
Johnson in his letter disputes claims of retroactive classification. He quoted a statement by I. Charles McCullough III, who’s the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, and State Department IG Steve Linick that the emails “were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today.”
Grassley asked Kendall on Monday about the timeline. Among his questions: If the government determined some information was classified in May, why did the State Department only a deliver a safe in July at the offices of Williams & Connolly.
Kendall said in his letter to Johnson that Clinton has more than accommodated requests from various oversight entities, including the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The committee’s investigation into the September 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya has sought Clinton’s communication about Benghazi and Libya.
“The set of emails provided to the State Department was demonstrably over-inclusive,” Kendall wrote to Johnson. He cited “at least 1,246″ emails since determined not to be federal records.
Clinton is scheduled to testify to the committee in October about her personal email use and her role during the Benghazi attack.
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