AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
There's a new turn in the controversy over Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. The State Department says it will not release 22 of those emails because they are top-secret. With us to talk about the issue is NPR's Carrie Johnson, and Carrie, what's known about these messages that the State Department says that they won't be making public?
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: State Department spokesman John Kirby says he will not discuss the substance of the emails. We do know they are top-secret. Kirby says they were not marked classified when they were sent, but authorities are looking now at whether they should have been classified back then when Clinton was secretary of state.
CORNISH: Now, what's Hillary Clinton herself saying about all of this?
JOHNSON: Her spokesman, Brian Fallon, says they're adamantly opposed to withholding any of those messages. They want all the documents to come out, and Fallon says this is simply a fight between the State Department and intelligence agencies about what constitutes a secret. He calls this overclassification run amok. Clinton says she's never sent or received any emails marked classified, Audie.
CORNISH: Meanwhile, the State Department's releasing 1,000 pages of messages today - this is on top of 43,000 pages they've made public over the past year. What happens next?
JOHNSON: Well, believe it or not, those email dumps are not done. We should expect at least one more huge release of emails sometime in February maybe just before a large block of states goes to vote for Super Tuesday, and that also means Clinton's going to be getting questions for some time to come on the campaign trail about these old issues.
CORNISH: Speaking of the campaign trail, what about Republicans? How are they reacting to this?
JOHNSON: Well, the Republican National Committee immediately blasted out a statement saying Clinton can't be trusted with the presidency, and the RNC says she put national security at risk. Several of the GOP candidates in last night's Fox News channel debate also used the issue to cast doubt on Clinton's trustworthiness, and those candidates pointed out that the FBI is investigating, too.
CORNISH: I want to talk more about the FBI investigation. What are federal agents looking at?
JOHNSON: The Justice Department and FBI have been pretty tightlipped, but the investigation appears to involve whether any classified information has been mishandled, not just Hillary Clinton but also some of her close aides, the people who may have sent her some of those email messages. It's been going on quietly for months now. The White House says the Justice Department is in charge of any decisions about prosecution, and it says Justice is not treating Clinton as the target of the investigation, but once the FBI starts digging, no one can really predict what they might uncover and when they might finish.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Carrie Johnson on the latest release of Hillary Clinton's emails during her time as secretary of state. Carrie, thank you.
JOHNSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.