Of­fi­cial sought to change Clin­ton email clas­si­fi­ca­tion

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Matt Zapo­to­sky

WASH­ING­TON — A top State Depart­ment of­fi­cial tried to pres­sure the FBI to change its de­ter­mi­na­tion that at least one of the emails on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pri­vate server con­tained clas­si­fied con­tent, prompt­ing dis­cus­sion of a pos­si­ble trade to re­solve the is­sue, two FBI em­ploy­ees told col­leagues in­ves­ti­gat­ing her use of a pri­vate server last year.

One FBI of­fi­cial con­ceded that he told the State Depart­ment em­ployee he would “look into” chang­ing the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of a Clin­ton email if the of­fi­cial would lend his author­ity to an FBI re­quest to in­crease its per­son­nel in Iraq, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments re­leased by the bureau Mon­day. An­other bureau of­fi­cial de­scribed the ar­range­ment as a “quid pro quo” and said he be­lieved that the State Depart­ment of­fi­cial, Un­der­sec­re­tary of State for Man­age­ment Pa­trick Kennedy, was in­ter­ested in “min­i­miz­ing the clas­si­fied na­ture of the Clin­ton emails in or­der to pro­tect State in­ter­ests and those of Clin­ton,” the doc­u­ments say.

No tan­gi­ble swap ever came to pass. The email was clas­si­fied in ac­cor­dance with the FBI’s orig­i­nal wishes, and the bureau was not given any ad­di­tional per­son­nel in Iraq. Both the FBI and the State Depart­ment de­nied that a quid pro quo ever ex­isted.

Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server while secretary of state has dogged the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee’s cam­paign and has proved to be an is­sue that res­onates with vot­ers.

In a video state­ment posted to his Twit­ter page Mon­day, Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump said: “This is very big, and frankly, it’s un­be­liev­able. What was just found out is that the The email on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pri­vate server was re­lated to the 2012 at­tacks on the U.S. Con­sulate in Beng­hazi. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, the State Depart­ment and the FBI col­luded, got to­gether, to make Hil­lary Clin­ton look less guilty and look a lot bet­ter than she looks. This is one of the big break­ing sto­ries of our time, in my opin­ion. This shows cor­rup­tion at the high­est level, and we can’t let it hap­pen as Amer­i­can ci­ti­zens.”

Clin­ton cam­paign spokesman Brian Fal­lon said in a writ­ten state­ment: “It is well known that there was strong dis­agree­ment among var­i­ous govern­ment agen­cies about the de­ci­sions to retroac­tively clas­sify cer­tain ma­te­rial in emails sent to Secretary Clin­ton. Agen­cies that took is­sue with this over­clas­si­fi­ca­tion did so based on their own be­liefs, and we were not part of these dis­agree­ments that played out inside the govern­ment.”

The FBI said in a state­ment that it had re­ferred the matter to the “ap­pro­pri­ate of­fi­cials for re­view.” The of­fi­cial at the cen­ter of the matter — who is not named in the doc­u­ments — has since re­tired, the bureau said.

The FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment de­clined to bring charges against Clin­ton for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion while she Kennedy was secretary of state, and FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey has re­peat­edly and force­fully de­fended that de­ci­sion.

The doc­u­ments re­leased Mon­day in­clude more than three dozen interview sum­maries with tech­nol­ogy com­pany em­ploy­ees, FBI agents and even Diplo­matic Se­cu­rity of­fi­cers who worked with Clin­ton.

The al­le­ga­tion of a quid pro quo, first re­ported by The Weekly Stan­dard, came from an of­fi­cial in the FBI’s records man­age­ment di­vi­sion, who was re­lay­ing an in­ter­ac­tion be­tween a col­league in the in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tions di­vi­sion and Kennedy.

The in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tions di­vi­sion of­fi­cial even­tu­ally told Kennedy he could not change the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the email, which was re­lated to the 2012 at­tacks on the U.S. Con­sulate in Beng­hazi.

The doc­u­ments re­leased Mon­day con­tain other po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing al­le­ga­tions. One former Diplo­matic Se­cu­rity agent, for ex­am­ple, told FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Clin­ton “bla­tantly” dis­re­garded State Depart­ment se­cu­rity pro­to­cols while she was secretary of state.

BREN­DAN SMI­ALOWSKI/GETTY-AFP

RICK WILK­ING/REUTERS

Me­la­nia Trump told CNN a 2005 video doesn’t re­flect “the man that I know.”

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