The Obama administration confirmed Friday that nearly two dozen emails held on Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured server contained top secret information.
The Associated Press reported Friday that the State Department is withholding 22 emails that have been classified as top secret, one of the highest levels of classification. The government agency is set to release the latest batch of Clinton emails Friday.
This marks the first time that the Obama administration has acknowledged that Clinton’s private server, which she used exclusively to conduct government business while secretary of state, held top secret information.
While the inspector general of the intelligence community determined last summer that at least two of Clinton’s emails contained top secret information at the time they were sent or received, the State Department disputed the classification, arguing that the emails may have been over classified.
A report from Fox News last week indicated that a recent intelligence review had determined that several dozen Clinton emails contained classified information, some of them holding intelligence from the government’s most secret “special access programs.”
According to the Associated Press, the State Department will withhold seven email chains–amounting to 37 pages–in full that include messages about special access programs. The State Department said that its Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus are looking into whether the emails contained information that was classified at the time they were sent.
“The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
Clinton has insisted that she never sent nor received information marked classified on her personal email. Last week, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign accused Charles McCullough III, who President Obama nominated to be intelligence community inspector general, of coordinating with Republicans to damage Clinton.
“This is overclassification run amok. We adamently oppose the complete blocking of the release of these emails,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon wrote on Twitter Friday afternoon.
The administration’s admission comes just days before the Iowa caucuses. Recent polling has indicated that Clinton trails her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), among Democratic voters there.