State Department spokesman John Kirby said agency officials have so far found no evidence that potentially classified talking points had been stripped of their markings and sent to Hillary Clinton's private inbox, as an email made public Friday suggested.
However, Kirby said that doesn't mean the document in question didn't find its way to the former secretary of state or that aides didn't break any laws regarding the handling of classified information.
The agency spokesman said "we'll have to deal with it" if officials discovered Clinton's top aides did indeed remove a classification marking from a set of sensitive talking points and send it to her through an unsecured network.
"Frankly, I don't know anything more about that traffic than you do," Kirby told a frustrated group of reporters Friday after refusing to comment further on whether Clinton had broken the law by requesting the talking points be sent "nonsecure" in the June 2011 email.
Kirby also declined to comment on whether the email had been referred to the Department of Justice as part of an open investigation into Clinton's handling of classified information.
He said he had "absolutely no way of knowing" whether the document referenced in what has been considered a bombshell email was actually classified at the time.
"I'm going to continue to refrain from speaking to specific content here. That's not our role right now," Kirby said. "I'm not going to talk about former Secretary Clinton's email practices. Those practices are under review and investigation so it wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk about that."
The State Department spokesman also apologized for the agency's failure to publish the more than 3,000 pages of emails until 1 a.m. Friday morning after telling reporters earlier to plan for their release as early as 6 p.m. the evening before.
"It was not at all an effort to make it harder for you to cover the story," Kirby told reporters.
"Certainly when we put out the original estimates, they were done in good faith," he added.
The email release Friday was an attempt by the agency to catch up to a court-ordered benchmark it had missed by publishing just 5,500 pages of emails, rather than the more than 8,000 required, by the end of December.