The State Department couldn't say whether former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's emails contained classified material at the time they were sent during Thursday's press briefing.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner was asked to make the distinction on whether the released emails weren't marked classified or if they didn't contain any classified information.
“Do you mean, when you say that, just to put a really fine point on this, that none of that information was marked classified? Or has the State Department made a definitive assertion that none of those documents contained classified information?” the reporter asked.
Toner said that none of the emails were marked classified at the time they were sent.
“We said none of the emails released, to this point in our monthly productions, were marked classified at the time that they were sent,” Toner said.
The reporter asked the State Department to clarify if the emails contained classified information at the time of being sent or just not marked classified.
“You can't say definitively that they didn't contain classified information at the time they were sent, just that they weren't marked as classified?” the reporter asked.
“Correct,” Toner said.
Toner made the distinction that none of the emails were marked classified but could not say whether any of the emails contained classified information at the time they were sent.
If emails contained classified information at the time they were sent, Clinton would be in violation of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Agreement she signed when she became secretary of state. The agreement outlined Clinton's responsibility for ascertaining whether information in her possession was classified and acknowledged that “negligent handling” of that information could jeopardize national security. The agreement also laid out criminal penalties for “any unauthorized disclosure” of classified information.
Since the investigation into the emails, the State Department has upgraded more than 1,200 Clinton emails as classified.