Two officials at the Treasury Department were stunned by the report that Hillary Clinton used private email to conduct government business during her tenure as secretary of state, according to newly released emails.
The emails, first reported by the Washington Examiner, show two officials in the Treasury’s records department reacting with disbelief to the first report last March that Clinton used a personal email at the State Department, a matter that has precipitated an FBI investigation into Clinton’s server.
Marcus Smallwood, the Treasury’s records management officer, circulated a message to colleagues on March 3 with a link to the story about Clinton’s email use, writing "Wow" in the subject line. "Unbelievable," the official remarked in the body of the email.
Helen Foster, deputy assistant secretary for privacy, transparency, and records at the Treasury Department, echoed Smallwood’s awe in her response.
"That is just what I said when I heard it on the news this [morning]. Unbelievable," she wrote.
The emails, which were obtained by America Rising through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, provide insight into the way in which Obama administration employees have reacted to Clinton’s decision to use a private, unsecured email to conduct sensitive State Department business.
A separate string of emails released in December showed two Labor Department employees reacting to the news and suggesting that the State Department and Clinton did not handle the situation properly.
Clinton has endured scrutiny for her use of private email for months, attempting to dismiss the controversy as the result of a partisan attempt to damage her Democratic presidential campaign. The FBI began investigating her email setup after the inspector general of the intelligence community determined last summer that at least two emails on Clinton’s server contain top secret information.
While Clinton has repeated that she never sent nor received information marked classified on her private email, the State Department acknowledged last month that 22 messages on Clinton’s server contain top secret information. Those correspondences have been withheld from the agency’s public release of Clinton’s emails, though her presidential campaign has argued that the messages were over-classified.
The State Department said last month that it was looking into whether the information was classified when the messages originated on Clinton’s server.
Revelations about Clinton’s email use have appeared to hurt her presidential ambitions. Clinton narrowly defeated her primary challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.), in the Iowa caucus on February 1. One week later, Sanders defeated Clinton by 22 percentage points in the New Hampshire primary, beating her among almost all demographic groups.