Washington, Jan 21 (IANS) Amid a growing challenge from Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has brushed off a report that her private email server contained classified intelligence from some of the US intelligence community’s most secretive programmes.
The former secretary of state told National Public Radio Wednesday that the report was a “leak” designed to harm her in the presidential race despite offering no evidence.
A Clinton spokesman even publicly accused investigators looking into her server as conspiring with Republican senators to embarrass her, according to CNN.
“As the State Department has confirmed, I never sent or received any material marked classified, and that hasn’t changed in all of these months,” he said.
“This, seems to me, to be, you know, another effort to inject this into the campaign. It’s another leak.”
Hillary Clinton also called an inspector general’s letter a “continuation of an inter-agency dispute that has been going on now for some months.”
Two government agencies flagged emails on Clinton’s server as containing classified information, the inspector general said, including some on “special access programmes”, which are a subset of the highest “Top Secret” level of classification, but are under subject to more stringent control rules than even other Top Secret information.
Clinton’s campaign and the State Department have long denied that any information was handled improperly, saying that the information and emails in question were all retroactively classified.
The Justice Department is investigating if classified information improperly ended up on Clinton’s email server. The server contained correspondence between Clinton and a variety of aides and friends.
Republican lawmakers requested the inspector general to investigate in March. The new report came a day after a new poll saw Sanders opening up a 60-33 percent lead — his widest yet — over Clinton in the crucial state of New Hampshire.
The Vermont senator’s whopping 27-point lead over Clinton in the WMUR/CNN poll marked a climb of 10 percentage points for Sanders since mid-December and a drop of 7 points for Clinton.
It marks Sanders’ highest support and widest lead in any poll in any state so far. His popularity in the state is also sky-high, earning a 91 percent favourability rating among Democrats there.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)