President Obama and Hillary Clinton did exchange emails via Clinton's private email server, but the White House is seeking to block their release. The White House press secretary said back in March that Clinton and Obama "did have the occasion to email one another" while Clinton was secretary of state, and the State Department has since uncovered what the New York Times calls "a handful of emails" between the two. The White House's decision to decline the release of those emails follows a precedent set by presidents of both parties that keeps presidential communications secret until after the president has left office, officials say, noting that the decision was not made based on the contents of the emails.
Even so, the Times notes that the decision will likely not sit well with congressional Republicans, who want Clinton's emails released. "There is a long history of presidential records being kept confidential while the president is in office," one White House official says. "It is a principle that previous White Houses have vigorously defended as it goes to the core of the president’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel during his time in office and is central to the independent functioning of the Executive Branch." (Read more Hillary Clinton stories.)