Two U.S. intelligence agencies have reaffirmed that two emails sent over Hillary Clinton’s private email server were "top secret" at the time, Fox News reported on Tuesday.
The CIA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency conducted a review of the two emails after the State Department disputed their classification status. Although one of the emails has since been downgraded to "secret" status, both were considered "top secret" during the time they were transmitted over Clinton’s server, sources told Fox News.
Clinton supporters previously seized on reports that the intelligence community was backing down from initial assessments that found the emails were highly classified, but the Fox News report indicates that the "top secret" determination has not changed:
The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe. …
The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information.
Earlier this month, Politico reported that the intelligence community was retreating from the "top secret" classification, a development that could have helped Clinton’s presidential campaign deflect allegations about mishandling classified material. Fox News can confirm it is true the handling of one email has changed since it was drafted and sent, but this change has no bearing on the "top secret" nature of the emails when first received on Clinton’s server. And this is what matters to the FBI probe.
The "top secret" classification of the emails is significant as the FBI continues to investigate whether any laws were broken related to the handling of classified information over Clinton’s private server.