Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015.  Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of "convenience." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Hillary Clinton has repeatedly denied sending or receiving classified material on the personal e-mail account she used while secretary of state. Here are two instances. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

By Carol D. Leonnig, Karen Tumulty and Rosalind S. Helderman
August 14, 2015 at 4:51 PM

Late last month, Hillary Rodham Clinton stood before a line of television cameras at a rural Iowa campaign stop to deny reports that she had sent sensitive information over her private e-mail system.

“I’m confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received,” Clinton said, dismissing claims to the contrary by federal intelligence officials as a bureaucratic dispute over what qualifies as classified.

The view from inside Clinton’s presidential campaign team was much the same: Clinton had done what she needed to do, there was nothing of real concern regarding the e-mails and, mostly, the whole matter was an annoyance in her efforts to win the White House.

The next week, however, law enforcement officials became interested, and the campaign’s apparent lack of concern began to turn into a sense of anxiety.

“They’re worried about it,” said a longtime Clinton adviser and confidant who agreed to discuss the mood of the campaign team only on the condition of anonymity. “They don’t know where it goes. That’s the problem.”

Clinton has come under fire for using a private e-mail during her time as secretary of state. The e-mails are being screened and released in batches. Here are some things we’ve learned from them.

The controversy over her private e-mail setup has moved into a new and, potentially, more serious phase. What had begun five months ago as a relatively narrow question about proper archiving of public records has become a bigger, more politically dangerous one: Whether the then-secretary of state and her close aides, in choosing to use a private e-mail system, disregarded common sense and may have put sensitive information at risk of falling into the wrong hands.

The first warning came July 31 when a Justice Department prosecutor called Clinton’s longtime lawyer, David Kendall, seeking a thumb drive that contained a copy of the 30,000 e-mails that Clinton had turned over earlier to the State Department, according to a person briefed about the conversation. Six days later, Kendall turned over to the FBI his thumb drive — and two copies — which had been stored in a safe in his office provided by the State Department. Next, the FBI wanted Clinton’s private server. That too, has been handed over, arriving in government hands Wednesday afternoon from the New Jersey data center where it was being kept.

The FBI’s interest in Clinton’s e-mail system arose after the intelligence community’s inspector general referred the issue to the Justice Department on July 6. Intelligence officials have expressed concern that some sensitive information was not in the government’s possession and that Clinton’s unusual e-mail system could have “compromised” secrets.

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