WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department has found an email chain that Hillary Clinton did not give to the State Department despite her saying she had provided all work emails from her time as secretary of state, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
The correspondence with David Petraeus, then the commander of U.S. Central Command, started shortly before she entered office and continued during her first days as the top U.S. diplomat in 2009, the AP reported, citing unidentified officials.
The emails dealt with personnel issues and did not contain classified information, it said. State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the department had not previously received the emails, the AP reported.
Clinton's use of a private email account connected to a server in her home instead of a government-issued email address came to light in March. The set-up has drawn criticism from political opponents who accused the Democratic presidential front-runner of sidestepping transparency and record-keeping laws and of potentially exposing classified information to hackers.
The controversy has cut into Clinton's lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 election.
Clinton apologized this month for her email set-up, saying it was unwise. But as recently as Sunday, she told CBS when asked about her emails that she provided "all of them."
Last December, she provided what she said were copies of all 30,000 or so work emails she had in her possession, nearly two years after she stepped down as secretary of state.
She did not hand over another 30,000 emails from the period that she deemed personal and said she chose "not to keep."
The AP report also said the email chain contradicts Clinton's claim that she used a private BlackBerry email account for her first two months at the department before setting up her clintonemail.com account in March, 2009. This was the reason she gave for not handing over any emails from those two months to the State Department.
The Petraeus exchange shows she started using the clintonemail.com account in January, the AP reported.
Clinton's staff have acknowledged that other work emails from later in her tenure were also missing from the record Clinton handed over. They have declined to say why.
Spokesmen for Clinton did not respond to questions on Friday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now examining Clinton's server as it looks into the possible mishandling of classified information between Clinton and her staff.
Media outlets and several other groups have filed dozens of lawsuits under freedom of information laws seeking Clinton's email records.
(Reporting by Washingotn newsroom and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler, Lisa Lambert and David Gregorio)