Mike Pompeo is known for his eager defenses of Donald Trump
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, facing open criticism from President Donald Trump, promised Friday he would release emails by Hillary Clinton avidly sought by conservative activists before November 3 elections.
Trump, trailing in the polls and confined to the White House after a Covid-19 diagnosis, has returned to his familiar demands for the emails of his 2016 rival while she was secretary of state.
Asked about Trump's rare attack on him over not finding and releasing the emails, Pompeo said in a Fox News interview: "We're gonna get there. We're going to get this information out so the American people can see it."
Pressed on whether he would follow through before the vote, Pompeo said: "Doing it as fast as we can. I certainly think there will be more to see before the election."
If Pompeo asks State Department employees to work on Clinton's emails, he would likely trigger questions of legality as the 1939 Hatch Act bans federal employees from most political activity.
Clinton -- who is not on the ballot this year -- has acknowledged using a private email server, in violation of regulations, when she was America's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
Then FBI chief James Comey, in the run-up to the 2016 election, found that Clinton was careless but that there was no criminal intent.
The emails have animated Trump's voters, who with his encouragement would chant "Lock her up!" at his rallies in 2016.
"You'll remember there was classified information on a private server. It should have never been there," Pompeo said.
"Hillary Clinton should never have done that. It was unacceptable behavior."
Pompeo -- who made his name as a Republican congressman with his fiery questions of Clinton over the deadly 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya -- has until now been one of the few aides never to cross the mercurial Trump and is known for his eager defenses of him.
But Trump in a Fox Business interview Thursday said he was "not happy" with Pompeo over the emails. On Friday, Trump said Clinton should be imprisoned over the emails.
A probe last year led by House Democratic lawmakers found that Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both advisors to the president, have themselves used personal email for White House business.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)