Sen. Lankford: Clinton's Emails 'Would Absolutely Represent a Security Threat'; 1,340 Had Classified Info

By Susan Jones | January 25, 2016 | 4:51 AM EST

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, at a NARAL Pro-Choice dinner in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(CNSNews.com) - Hillary Clinton used her private, unsecured email server for government business, and according to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, at least two of those emails are "top secret" and others are even more sensitive, containing information from "Special Access Programs" that could reveal details about intelligence sources.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said those emails "would absolutely represent a security threat" to the United States if a foreign government got ahold of them.

"There are about 1,340 e-mails that we know of so far that had classified information, whether it be sensitive classified or top secret," Lankford told "Fox News Sunday."

"And there's been a lot of conversation about the -- what they call S.A.P., Special Access Program, information that's also included. It's been referred to as above top secret. It's not above quote/unquote 'top secret.' It's a special compartmentalized top secret information where only certain individuals should be able to see this information. So, yes, it is a major risk to have this kind of information outside of a government server."

When Fox News broke the story last week, Clinton's campaign spokesman Brian Fallon suggested that the Democrat-appointed IG was working with Republicans to discredit Clinton.

Clinton herself said the most sensitive information "likely" was "the forwarding of a New York Times article" about a drone program.

"No, we're not just talking about a newspaper article," Lankford told host Chris Wallace. "Again, it's the conversation that -- that interchanges between staff here. This whole Clinton procedure of trying to attack the messenger and to say the messenger must be a member of the right-wing, vast conspiracy that's out there, that must be trying to instigate something -- the inspector general is an Obama appointee, is doing his job.

"He has been asked by a committee to keep the committee up to date. He has continued to be able to keep the committees, both in the House and the Senate, up to date. That is his task. And the inspector general is not the one that's designating these (e-mails) as sensitive, classified or top secret. That is within the (Intelligence) community or that is within State Department.

"And even State Department has continued to redact these documents over and over again, say this shouldn't go out public. This includes methods, this includes procedures, this includes human intelligence, this includes foreign and government information. Those are on their face classified information.

"So if someone is -- if something is sent to the secretary of state saying 'for your eyes only' or 'this is foreign information,' those are on its face classified. They don't have to be marked classified. It's known that they are -- that it's classified information."

Lankford said he would not even allude to what is in the emails: "For national security reasons for all of us, we need to stay away from this...I would just say, that is some of the most sensitive type of information that would be up there, because people's lives are on the line or sources are on the line."

Wallace asked Lankford if lives were on the line.

"I -- I am not going to get into that for national security reasons for all of these conversations, but I would say any time any information that comes out that has any human intelligence connected to it or can confirm something that is out there in the public setting that people may wonder about but they don't know, but once the conversation starts, it confirms it," Lankford replied.

"It tells our adversaries that can get to a private server stored in New York, outside the government system, (and) once they get that confirmation, it does do serious damage to our sources and methods."

Wallace asked Lankford if Clinton should be charged just as General David Petraeus was for sharing classified information.

Lankford said the "real question" in Hillary's case is whether she "willfully retained" classified information on her own computer or server. "It doesn't have to be marked classified, but it has to be information that was classified," he said.

"No other cabinet officials had a private server and kept information. This would be completely unacceptable for the DOD, for the secretary of defense, to be able to have a private server because you assume conversations that happen with the secretary of defense will be classified. You would assume the same for the secretary of state, that that would be classified. So this issue of willfully retaining becomes the questions that Jim Comey and the FBI will have to -- have to determine."

'Difference of opinion'

Appearing with Lankford on "Fox News Sunday" was Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff said there's a "difference of opinion" about whether some of Clinton's emails should have been marked "classified."

"Chris, when you read these e-mails, and I've gone through a lot of them, I think what really leaps out at you is you can see why there would be a difference of opinion between the State Department and the intelligence community about whether they should be classified at all, what the classification might be."

Schiff warned against a "rush to judgment" based on what the Intelligence community inspector general said. "I also think that, given that none of these were marked classified at the time, there's no reason, when you read the contents, I think, for the secretary to have the conclusion that they should have been marked as classified.

"And let me give you an example of why. If I were to send an e-mail to Secretary Kerry, who's on a trip to visit a foreign leaders, including an article in 'The New York Times' or some other publication about a Snowden leak -- and I'm making this up, but for illustrative purposes -- about a Snowden leak.

"If that e-mail suggests that the Snowden leak is accurate, it might be classified. If it's just to put the secretary on notice it may come up in the meeting but not suggest it's accurate, it's unclassified. So you can see why even among compartmented programs there could even be a difference of opinion."

Schiff said the Democrat-appointed IG "has to be very careful" not to let himself be "used by one political party against another during a presidential race."

According to Schiff, "there's no evidence" that there is a criminal case to be brought against Clinton. "But when you consider the facts of the Petraeus case, where there was a deliberate decision to share classified -- high classified information with a mistress and Petraeus) was less than candid about it with the FBI, that is a very differed fact situation than someone who receives information not marked classified and--"

"But what about this willful retention?" Wallace asked Schiff:

"And let me just mention one other thing in response to my -- my colleague's comments, and that is, so many of these e-mails that are now considered to include classified information by the State Department, the State Department acknowledges were not classified by the time they were received by the secretary, but now are going to be marked classified because they might embarrass a foreign government. That is hardly among the most sensitive things."

Schiff added that the fact that something is classified after the fact is also significant because of the time they were received by the secretary they were not classified."

Shouldn't then-Secretary of State Clinton known what is classified information and what isn't, Wallace asked.

"Well, if you go through these e-mails, as I have, Chris, you will see it is not apparent on its face because it often depends on whether something is derived from a classified source or from a newspaper article. So it is not as self-evident as you might think."

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