U.S. President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
US President Barack Obama and Clinton walk into a room in Nusa DuaReuters

The White House is attempting to keep presidential communications confidential even as the US Department of State continues to release thousands of pages of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's private server emails. The executive branch does not want emails exchanged between the US President Barack Obama and Clinton to be made public at least until the current president's term gets over.

According to a New York Times report, White House officials rummaging through Clinton's private server have come across the emails between her and Obama, which touched on a range of topics from Benghazi, Libya to the lack of emojis on Clinton's cellphone. As more and more emails continue to be regularly released, White House officials are concerned about the sensitive nature of some of the communiques between Obama and Clinton. More than half of Clinton's private server emails have now been released, in accordance with a lawsuit filed under the freedom of information laws.

Officials say it's not the content they are so much worried about but the sanctity of the "executive privilege" that presidents have when it comes to communicating with their top aides. In fact such top level communications have always been forbidden to be made public even under the freedom of information laws. The White House is of the opinion that eventually under the federal record laws these emails would have to become public, but to release them now when the Obama is still in office is not legal.

The attempt to keep these conversations private comes at the crucial time of Clinton running for presidency, which many Republicans believe is an attempt to protect her. Her critics have also said the set-up was an attempt to skirt transparency and may have made classified information vulnerable to hackers, charges she denies. Although she remains the favourite to become the nominee among Democratic voters, more than half of Americans have said in a series of recent opinion polls that they find her untrustworthy, in part because of her email habits.

A federal judge had ordered the State Department to publicly release all of Clinton's emails from her four years as the secretary of state between 2009 and 2013. These emails were kept on a non-government email server while she was the department chief. It was not immediately clear whether the US district judge overseeing the matter would agree with the executive branch's decision to keep the conversations private.