FBI files trig­ger fears of Clin­ton cover-up Em­ploy­ees felt pres­sure from State Depart­ment to keep email mes­sages se­cret

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

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

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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