Jim Cole / AP

Clinton agrees to give email server to Justice Dept.

Clinton's lawyer also turned over three thumb drives after FBI says he can't possess classified information in emails

Hillary Clinton relented Tuesday to months of demands that she relinquish the personal email server she used while Secretary of State, directing the device be given to the Justice Department.

Clinton's use of her private email account linked to a server in her home in a New York City suburb for her work as America's top diplomat came to light in March and drew fire from political opponents who accused her of sidestepping transparency and record-keeping laws.

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said she has “pledged to cooperate with the government's security inquiry, and if there are more questions, we will continue to address them.”

Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, turned over the emails after the FBI determined that he could not remain in possession of the classified information, an official who had been briefed on the matter told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to be quoted publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The State Department previously had said it was comfortable with Kendall keeping the emails at his Washington law office.

It's not clear if the server will yield any information — Clinton's attorney said in March that no emails from the main personal address she used while secretary of state still “reside on the server or on back-up systems associated with the server.”

Clinton, currently the frontrunner for the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 2016, had to this point refused demands from Republican critics to turn over the server to a third party, with Kendall telling the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that “there is no basis to support the proposed third-party review of the server.”

Republicans jumped on Clinton's Tuesday decision to change course, as well as the additional disclosure that two emails that traversed her personal system were subsequently given one of the government's highest classification ratings.

“All this means is that Hillary Clinton, in the face of FBI scrutiny, has decided she has run out of options,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “She knows she did something wrong and has run out of ways to cover it up.”

House Speaker John Boehner said in a press release on his website that Clinton's “mishandling of classified information must be fully investigated.”

The chairman of House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy, lambasted Clinton and the Obama administration over what he called a “serious national security issue.”

News of Clinton turning over her server came as Sen. Charles Grassley said two of the emails, which traversed Clinton's insecure home email server, were deemed “Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information,” which is among the government's highest classifications.

Grassley said the inspector general of the intelligence community had reported the new details about the higher classification to Congress on Tuesday.

Grassley said the new information from the inspector general “makes it even more important that the FBI and the State Department secure these documents.”

Those two emails were among four that had previously been determined by the inspector general of the intelligence community to have been classified at the time they were sent. The State Department disputes that the emails were classified at the time.

The U.S. official said the FBI recovered at least two thumb drives containing the emails from Kendall. The drives contain around 30,000 emails that Clinton deemed work-related and turned over to the State Department. She destroyed thousands of others that she said were not work-related.

The inspector general for the Intelligence Committee told Congress that potentially hundreds of classified emails are among the cache that Clinton provided.

Clinton's campaign and Kendall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FBI is looking into the security of the Clinton email arrangement. There is no evidence she used encryption to shield the emails from foreign intelligence services or other prying eyes.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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