Hillary Clinton, fighting for a strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, tried today to tamp down the controversy over her past handling of official emails, saying her critics were “grasping at straws.”
Clinton retained a slim 3-point lead over rival Bernie Sanders in the final poll released before tomorrow’s caucuses, and her backers hope the latest email flap does not discourage Iowans from voting for her tomorrow.
Asked on ABC’s “This Week” about her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state—including the 22 documents that the State Department said Friday are now considered “top secret”—Clinton again insisted she had done nothing wrong.
She said the emails were not classified as secret at the time and should all now be released, adding: “Let the public see them. Let’s move on.”
Clinton said that some emails might have been given upgraded classifications because they linked to newspaper articles about classified matters.
“That would be retroactively overclassifying a public newspaper article,” she said.
Clinton blamed her Republican detractors for politicizing the issue.
“This is very much like Benghazi,” she said, referring to the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic mission in that Libyan city that left four Americans dead.
“It’s clear that they’re grasping at straws,” Clinton said.
She added that the timing of leaks and reports about the emails seemed “concerning.”
Clinton’s rival Sanders briefly raised the issue in a separate appearance on ABC but then—as in an early Democratic debate—declined to pile on.
When an ABC interviewer mentioned that Sanders was getting “slapped with” the label of “democratic socialist,” which the Vermont senator uses himself, Sanders replied, “Look at the front pages today in terms of what Secretary Clinton is getting slapped with... the emails.”
Asked to elaborate, Sanders first demurred, saying, “I’m not going to politicize that issue.”
But he then added, “Republicans, needless to say, have a different point of view,” suggesting that it could affect Clinton’s electability in November.