TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Dominates In New National Republican Poll

Donald Trump
Charlie Neibergall—AP Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on July 25, 2015, in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

The results are huge one week before first Republican debate

Donald Trump sits firmly atop the Republican primary field one week before the inaugural GOP debate, according to the Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday.

The bombastic reality television star and real estate magnate has the support of 20% of Republicans, according to the poll, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker following at 13% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rounding out the top-3 at 10%. No other Republican candidate polls higher than 6%, with nine of the 12 remaining candidates polling within a statistical tie according to the survey.

The poll is likely to be one of the five surveys that will factor in determining eligibility for the GOP debate, with the Fox News using an as-yet-unknown method for averaging the results. The network has said it may allow more than 10 candidates on stage in the event of a tie.

The close results highlight the challenges inherent to using polling to attempt to winnow the massive Republican primary field.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Marco Rubio each polled at 6%, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 5%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie polled at 3%, rounding out the top 10, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry earning 2% each. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, and former New York Gov. George Pataki each pulled in 1%.

Among Republicans, 30% said they would under no circumstances vote for Trump—the highest of any candidate—with 15% saying they would never back Christie and 14% saying the same of Bush. Trump is viewed favorably by 50% of GOPers, with 33% viewing him unfavorably—among the lower net figures in the GOP field. Christie, though, is even worse, with 40% holding positive views and 37% negative.

Rubio and Walker remain the most beloved in the GOP, with more than three-fifths holding favorable opinions of the candidates and just single digits viewing them unfavorably. Bush saw a significant jump to his approval ratings, from the last Quinnipiac survey in May, rising from just 28% viewing him favorably to 43%, with the percentage viewing him unfavorably declining from 44% to 41% over the same period.

Americans of all stripes believe Trump possesses strong leadership qualities, with 58% of Americans and 61% of independent voters agreeing with that statement. Yet on two other key metrics of candidate performance, trust and caring about voters, Trump is underwater by roughly 2-1 margins.

The poll of 710 Republicans was conducted from July 23-28 and has a margin of error of ± 3.7 percentage points. The broader sample of 1,644 registered voters has a margin of error of ± 2.4 percentage points.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Losing Strength in New National Polling

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jim Cole—AP Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to questions during a campaign stop on July 28, 2015, in Nashua, N.H.

She is strong against Democratic challengers, but weaker against Republicans

Six weeks after setting her candidacy into high gear, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers are continuing to fall, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Across nearly every key metric, from trustworthiness to caring about voters to leadership, Clinton has seen an erosion in public approval, as likely Republican rivals have erased her leads in the poll. Clinton has a net -11 favorability rating in the poll, with 40% of the American public viewing her positively and 51% negatively, with more than 50% of independents on the negative side.

If the election were held today, Clinton would be tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the poll—down from significant leads in a May 28 survey—but would top the current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

The poll, which was conducted amid new reporting on the existence of classified information on Clinton’s private email server, found further declines in Clinton’s perceived trustworthiness, with 57% of Americans now viewing her as neither honest nor trustworthy. And as Clinton has invested heavily in a campaign designed to appeal to Americans who feel left behind in the economic recovery, a majority of Americans now believe Clinton does not care about the needs or problems of people like them. But while the numbers have softened in recent months, Clinton is continued to be viewed as a strong leader by 58% of Americans.

Despite her struggles in general election match-ups, Clinton’s position as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination remains solid with 55 percent of Democrats supporting her—roughly unchanged from a year ago. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ gains, meanwhile, have slowed. The May poll found the avowed socialist’s support spiking from 8% to 15% from a month before; this month he has the backing of 17% of Democrats.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, meanwhile, has struggled for recognition, with 76% of Americans and 78% of Democrats saying they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion of him. Despite intense campaigning and jabs at Clinton and Sanders, O’Malley only garners the support of 1% of Democrats, unchanged from two months ago.

The poll of 1,644 registered voters has a margin of error of ± 2.4 percentage points and was conducted from July 23-28. The smaller sample of 681 Democrats has a margin of error of ±3.8 percentage points.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 29

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released later this year, fulfilling a long-held request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House said it played no role in the parole decision, but speculation that it was tied to the Iran nuclear deal abounds. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows motioned Tuesday to overthrow Speaker of the House John Boehner amid frequent clashes between the GOP leader and the conservative wing of his conference. The motion is all-but-certain to fail, but it is another embarrassment to Boehner.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is signaling he will leave the Florida primary to the dueling campaigns of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The two native sons are locked in a pitched battle for the state’s delegates, and the outcome on March 15 may be one of the most decisive moments of next year’s primary season. Rubio, for his part, is laying low during a season of candidates making more and more outlandish statements to get attention. Content with running below the radar, the freshman senator with broad appeal needs to pick his moment to break out — and hope that his would-be supporters are still around.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Marco Rubio Takes Low-Key Approach

But when will he break out? [New York Times]

GOP congressman launches bid to oust John Boehner as House speaker

A mutiny attempt on the House floor [Washington Post]

Israeli Spy Pollard Will Be Released by U.S. in November
The White House says it was not a concession to Israel [Wall Street Journal]

Under Oath, Donald Trump Shows His Raw Side

Legal records paint unflattering portrait [New York Times]

Rand Paul defends campaign during N.H. swing

Stagnant, Paul says he’s playing the long game [Boston Globe]

What We Can Learn From Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Dick Cheney on 9/11

A never-before-seen look at a White House during crisis [TIME]

Sound Off

“Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That’s what prepping for this debate is like” —John Weaver, strategist for Ohio Gov. John Kasich on preparing for the GOP debate.

“This is President Obama’s decision and I’m not going to second-guess him. If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.” —Hillary Clinton, once again punting on the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday.

Bits and Bites

Watch the Trailer for Michael Bay’s Benghazi Thriller ’13 Hours’ [Wall Street Journal]

Walker Tells Private Group He’ll Skip Florida Primary [RealClearPolitics]

The Kochs freeze out Donald Trump [Politico]

White House Responds to Petition Urging Obama to Pardon Edward Snowden [TIME]

Former members of Congress not invited to pope’s speech [Washington Post]

Small Businesses Bear Burden of Ex-Im Bank Shutdown [Wall Street Journal]

Feds call meeting with Christie and Cuomo to discuss new transit tunnel [Bergen Record]

The Unique Challenges of Vetting Hillary Clinton’s Email [Wall Street Journal]

 

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 28

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

In the latest indication in recent months of corporate America wading in to provoke social change, Facebook and other corporate bigwigs are backing new protections for LGBT Americans, TIME’s Philip Elliott reports. This comes after the business community played a major role in halting a proposed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in Indiana over concerns it would sanction discrimination and encouraging South Carolina to remove the Confederate battle flag from its capital grounds.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is fading in the polls and in his influence in the GOP race. Overshadowed by Donald Trump, and marginalized on national security issues by a Republican base that has grown more hawkish with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, Paul is resorting to stunts, like taking a chainsaw to the tax code, in order to get attention.

President Obama took a swing at his would-be GOP successors’ inflammatory rhetoric on Monday, which only emboldened those he criticized. In his first extended Spanish-language interview of the campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke of the time his children were taunted for their skin tone. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is unveiling her climate change plan, but is remaining silent on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. And Obama, speaking at the African Union Tuesday morning, lamented not being able to run for another term. “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he said. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t.”

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Facebook, Corporate Giants Back New LGBT Protections
TIME’s Phil Elliott with the exclusive

President Obama Says GOP Criticism ‘Ridiculous’
Obama responds to Republican rhetoric [TIME]

U.S. Prepares to Fly Deeper into Syrian Civil War
TIME’s Mark Thompson on the latest anti-ISIS plan

‘The Most Interesting Man in Politics’ Isn’t Drawing Much Interest in New Hampshire
Rand Paul’s influence is waning [Washington Post]

Jabbing at Republican Rivals, Jeb Bush Calls for Civility
Having it both ways [New York Times]

Sound Off

“We are very Hispanic, in that we speak Spanish in the house. Columba is a good Mexican, proud of her citizenship of this country, of course, but we eat Mexican food in the home. My children are Hispanic in many aspects. We don’t talk about it, but the Hispanic influence is an important part of my life.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaking in Spanish in an interview with Telemundo

“I will refrain from commenting because I had a leading role in getting that process started and we have to let it run its course.” — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline during remarks about climate change

Bits and Bites

Donald Trump Is Not as Aggressive on Immigration As He Sounds [TIME]

Jon Stewart’s Secret White House Visits [Politico]

N.S.A. Will Not Be Allowed to Keep Old Phone Records [New York Times]

Jewish Americans Support the Iran Nuclear Deal [Washington Post]

Bush, Cruz, Rubio and Walker to Court Koch Donors [Politico]

Arizona Senator May be Best Shot for Bipartisan Support of Iran Deal [Wall Street Journal]

Trump Slams Walker as Governor Leads in Early Voting Iowa [Associated Press]

 

 

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 27

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

With just 10 days to the first GOP debate, the Republican National Committee is defending its efforts to take control of the debates process that will leave six candidates off the main stage next week. In anticipation of the culling, which will be determined by position in nationally polling, the candidates on the bubble are going up on television, increasing their travel schedule, and dialing up their rhetoric to gain attention. For instance, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee resorted to invoking the Holocaust over the weekend in a bid to highlight his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is out with the first leg of her climate change plan, but she can’t outrun lingering questions over her use of private email while at the State Department. A pair of inspector generals said Friday that there were at least four instances of classified information being found on her unsecured server in violation of handling rules. And she and the House Benghazi Committee remain locked in a war of words over the conditions under which she will testify later this year.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Officials: Classified Emails ‘Should Never’ Have Been On Hillary Clinton Server
More questions for Clinton over private email use [TIME]

Donald Trump Staffers Eye Third-Party Run
TIME’s Philip Elliott reports on the candidate’s flirtations with an independent run

Hillary Clinton Unveils Far-Reaching Climate Change Plan
500 million new solar panels by 2020 [New York Times]

Senate Smackdown: Ted Cruz, Mike Lee Efforts Squelched by Leaders
Drama in the Senate chamber [Politico]

Republicans Alter Script on Abortion, Seeking to Shift Debate
The GOP goes on offense after controversial videos emerge [New York Times]

Sound Off

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama.

“I think every state should strengthen their laws. Every state should make sure this information is being reported in the background system. We need to make sure that background system is working. Absolutely, in this instance, this man never should have been able to buy a gun.” — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on CBS “Face the Nation” after last week’s mass shooting in Lafayette

Bits and Bites

John McCain to Campaign for Lindsey Graham Next Week [TIME]

Dispute Continues Over Hillary Clinton Testifying Before Benghazi Panel [TIME]

Here’s Jeb Bush’s Underwhelming Review of Sharknado 3 [TIME]

George Pataki Is Wearing Two Hats: Presidential Candidate and Cattleman
[Wall Street Journal]

Jeb Bush to Seek Latino Support in Central Florida [Washington Post]

Marco Rubio, Absentee Senator [Politico]

American Crossroads Gears Up for 2016 Elections, Aims to Stay Top GOP Super PAC [Wall Street Journal]

Exodus from Puerto Rico Could Upend Florida Vote in 2016 Presidential Race [Washington Post]

GOP: It’s No Longer Playing Catch-Up to Clinton on Tech Outreach [San Francisco Chronicle]

Where Candidates Stash Their Cash [Bloomberg]

 

 

TIME Lindsey Graham

John McCain to Campaign for Lindsey Graham Next Week

John McCain and Lindsey Graham
John Leyba—Denver Post/Getty Images U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham at a Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL) event titled, Violent Extremism & U.S. Response, on April 1, 2015 in Denver.

McCain's in-person assistance is critical for Graham

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, will campaign for the first time on behalf of his friend Sen. Lindsey Graham in New Hampshire next week.

According to a Graham spokesperson, McCain, who won the 2000 and 2008 New Hampshire primaries, will appear with the South Carolina senator at a barbecue at a VFW hall in Littleton, N.H. on Saturday, Aug. 1. The pair will campaign in the state throughout the weekend.

McCain’s in-person assistance is critical for Graham, who is casting his message as the natural successor to McCain’s “straight talk,” combining a hawkish foreign policy with calls to reform the immigration system, preserve the environment and modernize entitlement programs. It comes as a bevy of 2016 contenders are hoping to deploy a “tell-it-like-it-is” campaign in the Granite State.

The pair traveled extensively together in 2008, when Graham was a ubiquitous presence on McCain’s campaign bus and plane. Together with former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the trio branded themselves as “the three amigos.” (The three were united in New York last week at an event opposing President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.)

In an interview with TIME last month, McCain praised Graham for being a “happy warrior” on the campaign trial.

“He’s been on it with me for so long, he knows that one of the things that’s important about a campaign is to enjoy it, and that enjoyment many times will transmit itself to the voter,” McCain said. “He’s going to be a happy warrior. He already is. And sometime that’s very helpful in getting support, particularly when sometimes the face-to-face contact is what you get with voters in Iowa, and particularly New Hampshire.”

In 2012, McCain held off endorsing anyone until the day after the Iowa Caucuses, when he appeared with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a joint New Hampshire town hall as the eventual GOP nominee, and McCain’s once bitter primary rival, sought to consolidate the party’s support.

TIME 2016 Election

Dispute Continues Over Hillary Clinton Testifying Before Benghazi Panel

Clinton's spokesman said there was a deal, but the committee's representative said no agreement had been reached

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the House Benghazi Committee remain at loggerheads over the conditions under which she would testify before the committee, probing the killing of four Americans in the September 2012 attack in Libya.

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill announced Saturday that Clinton had agreed to testify before the committee in a public hearing in October, but the committee’s communications director, Jamal Ware, said no agreement had in fact been reached.

“Earlier this week we were pleased for Secretary Clinton to receive an offer from Congressman Gowdy to appear before the committee in a public hearing in October, and yesterday accepted his invitation,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement.

“Secretary Clinton’s campaign may want to reach out to her lawyer, Mr. David Kendall, with whom the Committee has had ongoing conversations,” Ware said. “As of last night, Mr. Kendall was still negotiating conditions for her appearance.”

According to Ware, Kendall had two conditions for Clinton testify: that the questions be limited in scope to the Benghazi committee’s jurisdiction, and that the date remain firm despite the State Department’s alleged slow production of documents to the committee.

In recent months the committee has expanded its purview into investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server rather than a government email account. On Friday, a pair of inspectors general announced that they had found messages containing classified information among the 30,000 emails Clinton has turned over from the server, contrary to Clinton’s assertion in March. The inspector general for the intelligence community also notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the possible compromise of classified information being kept outside of government control, in reference to Clinton’s private server.

Ware said the committee believes that the email issue is well within its purview.

“Her email arrangement clearly falls within the scope of the Select Committee’s jurisdiction, which is charged by the House under the Resolution to look at Executive Branch efforts to comply with congressional oversight as well as the administration’s response in the aftermath of the tragic attacks in Benghazi,” he said.

A public hearing would mark a small victory for Clinton, who has pushed to testify in public, despite committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy’s hopes for her to testify in a classified setting.

TIME Rand Paul

Rand Paul Launches Snapchat Ads

In this file photo, Dr. Rand Paul looks at a campaign ad on his phone while running for the U.S. Senate.
The Washington Post— Washington Post/Getty Images In this file photo, Dr. Rand Paul looks at a campaign ad on his phone while running for the U.S. Senate.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was one of the first 2016 presidential contenders to embrace Snapchat, and now he’s becoming one of the first to advertise on the platform.

Paul’s campaign is placing three ads on the social network this weekend as part of a broader digital campaign soliciting ideas for how the libertarian lawmaker can destroy the tax code. The 10-second video spots are cut from a longer video released earlier this week featuring Paul fire, using fire, a woodchipper and a chainsaw to tear up piles of papers, all set to an electric guitar rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The ad campaign is the latest effort by Paul to revive a campaign that is in danger of falling behind amid a softening of his support in the polls and lackluster fundraising for the campaign and super PAC.

The ads are targeted at all users in the four early voting states, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire, and his campaign hopes they will appeal to the platform’s younger-skewing demographic.

Last week, Snapchat featured two ads for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and one for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a politically-themed “live story” for users on the platform from the four early states. Paul’s ads are aimed at all users from those states, not just those viewing the “live story,” including those using Snapchat’s “discover” feature.

“Many younger ‘off-the-grid’ voters aren’t consuming traditional news outlets and are increasingly using platforms like snapchat as their source of information,” said Vincent Harris, Paul’s digital strategist. “Senator Paul’s campaign plans to continue to run ads and connect with voters in this way.”

Harris would not reveal the dollar-amount behind the buy, adding, “The campaign will continue to spend more after we see the ROI. This is new and exciting territory.”

Watch the ads below.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Officials: Classified Emails ‘Should Never’ Have Been On Hillary Clinton Server

Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the media July 14, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong— 2015 Getty Images Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to members of the media July 14, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

"Security referral" triggered by potential copies of classified documents on Clinton's home server, lawyer's thumb drive drive.

The Justice Department investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information was triggered by the revelation that classified information contained in Hillary Clinton’s private email account could still exist on her private home server and on the thumb drive in the control of her personal lawyer, U.S. officials confirmed Friday.

The referral was made by the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General (IC IG) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence division, not career prosecutors at the Justice Department. “The IC IG did not make a criminal referral,” said the Inspectors General for the State Department and Intelligence Community in a joint statement Friday. “It was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes.”

The immediate concerns are four emails culled from a limited sample of 400 emails that contained previously unlabeled classified information. “These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today,” their statement said. “This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.”

In response to a records request from the State Department, Clinton has turned over approximately 30,000 work emails that she had stored on her private email server since her time as Secretary of State. She has previously said that those emails contained no classified information. The four emails in question were not properly labeled as classified, according to the inspectors general.

Both inspectors general say they were required to notify the FBI by law once they found that information that should have been marked as classified was found among the former Secretary of State’s emails. Relevant congressional committees were also notified on July 23.

A Department of Justice official confirmed to TIME Friday that, “The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral.”

I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community, voiced concerns in a July 23 memo to Congressional lawmakers over the proper handling of information contained in Clinton’s email records. He warned there has already been “an inadvertent release of classified national security information” in a recent release of emails under the Freedom of Information Act, a contention disputed by the State Department.

Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for McCullough, confirmed that the referral was made to the FBI, in accordance with federal guidelines for the the discovery of the potential compromise of classified information.

In a March news conference, Clinton denied that she used the unsecured account for classified information. “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” she said. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

TIME 2016 Election

Inspector General Says Hillary Clinton Emails Contained Classified Information

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Stephen B. Morton—AP In this July 23, 2015 photo Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C.

The Justice Department is mulling its own investigation

Federal officials have requested an investigation into a potential compromise of classified information related to the handling of documents once stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, government officials confirmed Friday.

Clinton and her current and former aides have not been named as targets of the investigation, and the scope of the investigation request has not been revealed.

A Department of Justice official confirmed to TIME Friday morning that there had been a “criminal referral.” Later that same day, the official sent an updated statement: “The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral,” it read.

Even if Clinton is not targeted in the probe, a Justice Department inquiry could be used to tar her presidential campaign. Her decision to use a private account for government business, and then choosing to delete ostensibly personal information from the server has already contributed to a decline in Clinton’s favorability rating and has provoked questions about her trustworthiness.

I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community, voiced concerns in a July 23 memo over information that passed through Clinton’s email server, was later given to her personal lawyer and returned to the State Department. McCullough said the data should have been treated with greater sensitivity, since it was derived from classified information produced by the U.S. intelligence community.

Clinton has repeatedly said she never allowed information that was marked classified to pass across her private email. “There have been a lot of inaccuracies,” she said on Friday of the latest reports. “Maybe the heat is getting to everybody. We all have a responsibility to get this right. I have released 55,000 pages of emails, I have said repeatedly that I will answer questions before the House Committee. We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part.”

None of the investigating bodies, in Congress or elsewhere, have accused Clinton of wrongdoing. But questions have been raised about the judgement of State Department officials. “We note that none of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included [intelligence community]-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network,” wrote McCullough, the inspector general for the intelligence community, who described his review as incomplete.

A spokeswoman for McCullough, Andrea Williams, said Friday that there are at least four emails of concern, which have yet to be released by the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act. “They were not marked at all but contained classified information,” she wrote in an email to TIME Friday.

If documents had not initially been marked as classified, agency heads generally have significant legal leeway to decide how to classify most information, with the exception of some categories, like nuclear secrets, which are deemed classified by statute.

“The thing to understand about the classification system is that it is an administrative decision that is rooted in executive order,” said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Sciences. “The president delegates authority to agency heads. It’s up to an agency head to decide if something is properly classified or not.”

The request for an investigation, first reported by the New York Times, is in reference to “hundreds of potentially classified emails” contained among Clinton’s messages.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House committee investigating Benghazi, denied Friday that there was any criminal referral. “I spoke personally to the State Department inspector general on Thursday, and he said he never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email usage,” Cummings wrote in a statement. “This is the latest example in a series of inaccurate leaks to generate false front-page headlines − only to be corrected later − and they have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi or protecting our diplomatic corps overseas.”

In May, when releasing the first batch of Clinton emails to the public, the State Department, at the request of the intelligence community, classified 23 words of an email relating to the arrest of a suspected assailant in the 2012 Benghazi attack which killed four Americans.

A senior State Department official told TIME then that the retroactive classification does not mean Clinton did anything improper, adding “this happens several times a month” when Freedom of Information Act reports are prepared for the public. The executive order under which the classification program operates allows for the reclassification of information, either because of initial misclassification or because subsequent events have made the information more sensitive.

At the time, the State Department said, the email was unclassified while it resided on Clinton’s server and when it was sent to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. McCullough, the inspector general, told Congress that he believes copies of the emails were also placed on a thumb drive that was given to David Kendall, Clinton’s personal attorney at Williams and Connelly.

In a statement, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill brushed back on the assertion that Clinton had done anything wrong, noting that the New York Times had also changed the language of its initial story. At first, the Times described “a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information.” That was changed to “a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

“Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, she followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials,” Merrill said. “As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.”

In a March news conference, Clinton denied that she used the unsecured account for classified information. “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” she said. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

In a statement Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner criticized Clinton for “mishandling” classified email, though it is not yet clear whether that claim is a part of the potential Justice Department probe. He encouraged Clinton to turn over her private server to Congress for further investigation.

“Secretary Clinton has repeatedly claimed that the work-related emails on her private home server did not include classified information, but we know that is not true,” Boehner said. “She has claimed she is well-aware of what matters are classified and what are not, and yet she set up a personal email server to discuss matters of national security despite guidance to the contrary from both her State Department and the White House. Her poor [judgment] has undermined our national security and it is time for her to finally do the right thing.”

The State Department is in the midst of a review of 55,000 pages of emails from Clinton’s server, and is under court order to produce them regularly to the public in order to comply with overdue Freedom of Information Act requests.

The inspectors general of both the State Department and the intelligence community have asked the State Department to review the Clinton emails in a more highly classified environment, “given it is more likely than not” that such records exist in her messages. The department has declined, citing resource constraints.

In her public comments on the server issue, Clinton has at times been less than forthright, telling CNN earlier this month that she hadn’t received a subpoena for the records, for instance, when she had.

“The truth is everything I did was permitted and I went above and beyond what anybody could have expected in making sure that if the State Department didn’t capture something, I made a real effort to get it to them,” Clinton told CNN this month. But Clinton was under a legal obligation to preserve all messages pertaining to her work and to hand them over to the State Department.

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