Memo to Moscow: We don’t need your help finding Hillary Clinton’s mystery emails.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in a jab he claimed Thursday was meant as a sarcastic joke, had called on Russian hackers a day earlier to locate thousands of emails his general-election foe, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had sent or received while using a private server instead of the State Department’s official network.
Turns out the State Department already has some of the “several thousand” emails. The FBI found them during its investigation of Clinton’s email use and turned some of them over to the State Department a week ago. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Thursday his staff has begun reviewing them for possible release.
“We have received a batch that we’re still going through,” Kirby told reporters. “I can’t rule out that there won’t be additional documents given to us by the FBI.”
Asked how many emails were in the first batch, Kirby declined to elaborate.
“Again, we’re still going through the batch that was provided to us,” he said. “And again, I just don’t have more detail right now.”
Clinton’s “missing” emails have been a talking point for Republicans since she first revealed that she had turned about 30,000 emails over to the State Department as related to her work, but had deleted as many as 30,000 others that she and her attorneys considered personal.
In a nationally televised statement July 5, FBI director James Comey said that the FBI had discovered “several thousand” work-related emails during its investigation that Clinton had not turned over to the State Department.
Some of those, Comey said, were discovered on devices that had been connected to Clinton’s server or had been found in the government email accounts of officials she’d emailed with. Others were painstakingly reconstructed from “fragments” found on a server that had been taken out of service in 2013.
“Millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the (private) server’s unused – or ‘slack’ – space,” Comey said. “We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.”
Trump has been critical of Comey’s decision to recommend that no criminal charges be filed against Clinton, despite finding that some of the emails on Clinton’s server contained classified material. “FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security,” Trump said in a tweet then. “No charges. Wow!”
At the Republican National Convention, the controversy also generated raucous chants of “Lock Her Up.”
And Trump reopened it Wednesday at a news conference in Miami when he used unrelated allegations that Russia had hacked into the computers at the National Democratic Committee and spirited out more than 19,000 emails to raise the issue of the “missing” Clinton emails.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said.
The comment was widely reported as Trump inviting a foreign adversary to hack a U.S. citizen’s email and was widely denounced by Democratic politicians.
There was no word from the State Department on when the first of the FBI-found emails will be released. Several news organizations have filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the new emails.
James Rosen: 202-383-0014; Twitter: @jamesmartinrose