FBI files trigger fears of Clinton cover-up Employees felt pressure from State Department to keep email messages secret
One of Hillary Clinton’s top deputies at the State Department tried to “pressure the FBI” to hush up some of the former secretary’s classified emails, two FBI employees told investigators in files released last Monday.
Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary for management, considered a “quid pro quo” where he would let more FBI agents into Iraq in exchange for the FBI erasing an earlier judgment that had deemed some of the Clinton email messages secret, according to investigative notes of interviews agents had with the two employees.
The FBI files also show Mrs. Clinton’s team of attorneys and advisers may have exposed her classified emails to the internet after she left office. A half-dozen laptops were used to go over Mrs. Clinton’s messages and decide which ones to belatedly comply with the law and turn back over to the government, and at least one of them was subsequently hooked up to the internet, attorneys acknowledged to the FBI.
The Obama administration was indignant at the suggestion of bribery concerning Mrs. Clinton’s messages, and a State Department spokesman said it was “insulting” to think they would be part of such deal-making.
But coupled with hacked emails showing what appears to be information-sharing between the State and Justice departments and officials on Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, the FBI reports fueled Republican fears of a cover-up to aide the Democratic presidential nominee.
“A senior State Department official’s attempt to pressure the FBI to hide the extent of this mishandling bears all the signs of a cover-up,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in a statement after the FBI released its third batch of investigative files. “This is why our aggressive oversight work in the House is so important, and it will continue.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign said the new information was “undeniable proof” of collusion between Mrs. Clinton’s operation and the FBI and the Justice and State departments.
The revelations also provided a rallying point for a Republican Party that has been fractured in recent weeks, with Mr. Trump and his critics within his party all agreeing that Mr. Kennedy should be excused from his job.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said that wasn’t going to happen, adding that the longtime diplomat still has the full backing of current Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
Mr. Kennedy has been a major figure in Mrs. Clinton’s political troubles over the last few years. He was also at the center of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, though the State Department’s official report on that debacle blamed Mr. Kennedy’s underlings for the lax security around the diplomatic compound.
More recently, Mr. Kennedy has been implicated in the mishandling of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. He communicated with her via her secret account, but said in sworn testimony earlier this year that he didn’t recall paying attention to what address she was using, and didn’t worry at the time about whether she was complying with federal records laws and department policies.
Mr. Kennedy was the State Department employee who initially received the work application of Bryan Pagliano, the Clinton campaign staffer who went on to work for both the State Department and the Clinton family, including managing the secret email server.
“This guy has nine lives,” a former diplomat told Foreign Policy in a profile of Mr. Kennedy this summer.
In the latest documents, a person whose name was redacted but who appears to be an FBI employee said Mr. Kennedy was not satisfied with the FBI’s determination that some of Mrs. Clinton’s messages were classified. Mr. Kennedy pressured the law enforcement agency to change its ratings, and offered an exchange that the State Department “would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden,” the accuser told FBI agents.
Mr. Kennedy later presided over a meeting where he asked if the FBI could “see their way to marking the email unclassified.” Mr. Kennedy then went up the chain of command at the FBI, attempting to get the classified emails marked as unclassified, but was rebuffed at each step.
Another FBI employee said Mr. Kennedy contacted him last year, as the Clinton emails were being processed, and also sought to lower the classification of secret emails. That employee said Mr. Kennedy suggested marking the messages under a nonclassified exemption that would still allow the information to be kept private, but without the controversial stamp of secret material that has proved embarrassing to Mrs. Clinton.
“Kennedy … stated that the ‘B9’ classification would allow him to archive the document in the basement of [the State Department] never to be seen again,” the FBI said in its investigative notes.
Mr. Kennedy again offered an exchange, saying he would help the FBI get more agents into Iraq, the investigative file says. The FBI refused the offers and did not alter its classification, the file says.
The State Department said that it did accept the FBI’s
A deputy for Hillary Clinton pressured the FBI to let more agents into Iraq if it reversed saying that some emails on her private server were classified.