By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is weighing a request by two government inspectors general to open a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account for her work as secretary of state, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The inspectors general, who were not clearly identified in the Times's report, have asked the Justice Department to decide whether Clinton, the leading Democratic contender for the 2016 presidential election, mishandled classified information while she was the nation's most senior diplomat.
The Justice Department has not decided whether it will pursue a criminal inquiry, the Times said in its report published online late Thursday night, which cited unnamed government officials.
Clinton has repeatedly said she broke no laws or rules by eschewing a standard government email account for her State Department work in favor of a private account linked to a computer server in her New York home. She has also said she sent no classified information through email.
Her exclusive use of a private email account first came to public attention in March, opening her to a volley of criticism from political opponents as she began her presidential campaign that she was sidestepping transparency and record-keeping laws.
She says she last year gave the State Department all the work-related emails she had, amounting to some 55,000 printed pages covering her four-year tenure beginning in 2009, although her staff have recently acknowledged there are gaps in the records she retained.
The State Department is now obliging her request to make public as many of the emails public as disclosure laws allow, and is regularly releasing them in batches through to next January.
Some of the emails have been retroactively marked as classified or containing some sort of sensitive information, according to the State Department, although the department says this does not mean the information was classified at the time an email was sent.
The inspectors general behind the complaint told the Justice Department last month that at least one email already made public contains classified information that was apparently not properly redacted, the Times reported. Which email they had in mind is unclear.
The Justice Department and spokesmen for Clinton did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday night.
While Clinton is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic Party's nomination, several recent polls have found a majority of voters find her untrustworthy, a feeling likely to be exacerbated by a criminal investigation by the federal government.
(Additional reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)