Cummings Raises Questions About “Broken” Classification Process and Clinton Emails

Aug 29, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Raises Questions About “Broken” Classification Process and Clinton Emails


Washington, D.C. (Aug. 29, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seeking answers to basic questions about the process used to determine that emails to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were classified when they were sent.   

Cummings also released a letter sent to FBI Director James Comey on July 11, 2016, with similar questions that still have not been answered.

After reviewing the documents the FBI provided to Congress, Ranking Member Cummings wrote:

“Rather than clarifying this situation, the information provided to Congress by the FBI raises even more questions than it answers.  The documents show a system that is severely disjointed, often incomprehensible, and in some cases internally contradictory.  It appears that our nation’s classification system is fundamentally broken and in desperate need of reform.”

Cummings’ letter reveals that the documents produced to Congress show that multiple emails were explicitly marked unclassified—stating that they contain “Sensitive But Unclassified” or “SBU” information. 

The documents also indicate that emails were authored and sent to dozens and dozens of officials—including on large distribution lists that included distinguished career employees with decades of experience—but there is no evidence that anyone who sent or received these emails raised any concern that the information within them was classified.

Cummings’ letter also notes that the documents include references to an email exchange in which former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised Secretary Clinton on the use of personal email, and Cummings requested a full copy of the email exchange.

114th Congress