The Trump administration’s decision to leave the door open for the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails on Monday only heightened tensions with the Kremlin, and raised new questions about whether the administration would be willing to accept sanctions if the emails are released.
“This is what’s happening now, I don’t care if you have an email,” Trump said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, adding that he would “absolutely” pardon Clinton.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s comments come as the administration is scrambling to find a way to get the emails out of the hands of the FBI and congressional committees, and are an apparent effort to deflect attention from the president’s widely criticized response to the deadly shooting of a reporter at the Republican National Convention in July.
The FBI has said it has found about 30,000 emails that might be related to the probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The State Department has been holding back some of the emails, saying that it is reviewing them.
But the Trump administration has been insisting that they be released.
Trump has repeatedly denied involvement in any interference in the election, and has repeatedly refused to say whether he believes Russia has intervened in the U.S. election to help him win the White House.
Democrats have said that the FBI has been overreaching by releasing the emails without getting the State Department to hand over its work-related emails.
And a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently sent a letter to the State and Justice departments asking them to release all the work-issued emails and related records that have not been previously provided.
“It is important to note that the State, Justice, and FBI departments have agreed to share all the emails that are responsive to this letter and the other congressional inquiries and public disclosures,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter said that releasing the documents would provide additional information about Clinton’s email practices, including whether her use of a private server as secretary of state violated the federal record-keeping law.
“We are concerned that the Department and FBI are refusing to provide responsive documents and have asked for the FBI to provide all documents to be released,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said.
“We have been working to obtain the responsive records.
The FBI has agreed to meet with our office to discuss how to release them.””
The FBI will continue to cooperate with our oversight and congressional inquiries, and will comply with the law,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in an emailed statement.
“The Department is committed to protecting the confidentiality of all classified information.”
The Trump administration last week ordered the State department to stop releasing emails from Clinton, citing national security concerns.
The State Department also said that it would no longer release documents from former President Bill Clinton, whose wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was secretary of State.
The emails that have been released to date show that the Clintons’ use of private email accounts was a key component in the Russian election interference effort.
They show that Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, used a private email address and her husband, former President Barack Obama, also used a personal email account.
The new emails also show that a top State Department official used a server located in her home.
The records released Monday include a 2013 email from the former head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, William Condon, to Clinton and other top State officials discussing a proposal to set up a private “secure” server to handle all communications from the bureau.
The records also show the email from then-Deputy Chief of Staff John Sullivan to Clinton in July 2014 in which he warned that if she were to use her private email account, the State Dept. could not provide her with her daily briefing, which she had requested as secretary.
The documents released Monday also show a June 2016 email from State’s deputy chief of information policy, Stephen Kim, to then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and Eurasian Affairs Thomas Nides, asking if the State is “ready to start sending our data” to Russian officials, including Russian military intelligence.
The president also said in July that the U