- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
FBI documents released Monday in relation to the Hillary Clinton email investigation suggest an undersecretary of state requested that the FBI change a classified email to unclassified for what a bureau official interpreted as a “quid pro quo” exchange with the State Department.
The undersecretary of state, Patrick Kennedy, asked for assistance in changing the classification of an email that the FBI had marked classified, according to an individual whose name was redacted in the fourth batch of notes summarizing the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email conduct while she was serving as secretary of state. The investigation took place in 2015, after Clinton had left the State Department.
According to the documents, the FBI official then contacted another person and “pressured” the individual to change the classification of the email.
In exchange for marking the email unclassified, the State Department was willing to “reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden,” according to the documents.
The deal, which was rejected, was characterized as a “quid pro quo” by the unnamed individual relaying an account of the conversation Kennedy had with the FBI official.
Kennedy made further attempts to influence the classification of the email during a meeting at the State Department, the documents indicated:
After the FBI continued to decline to change the classification of the email in question, Kennedy asked whether the FBI or the State Department would comment publicly on the matter. When an FBI official replied that the bureau would not comment publicly, Clinton soon appeared before the press in March and denied sending classified emails over her private server.
The FBI released a statement denying that a “quid pro quo” ever took place.
“The classification of the email was not changed, and it remains classified today,” the statement said. “Although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review.”
Nevertheless, Republicans were quick to condemn the new revelations.
House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement saying the documents “further demonstrate Secretary Clinton’s complete disregard for properly handling classified information.”
“This is exactly why I called on DNI Clapper to deny her access to classified information,” Ryan said in the statement, referring to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “Moreover, a senior State Department official’s attempt to pressure the FBI to hide the extent of the mishandling bears all the signs of a cover-up.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also commented on the documents, tweeting “unbelievable” in response to the news.
Clinton’s campaign responded as well, dismissing the interaction between the FBI and the State Department as nothing out of the ordinary.
“It’s very well known that there were disputes between the State Department and other agencies about classification,” campaign manager Robby Mook said on a conference call Monday. “It’s not uncommon for officials within departments to fight over classification.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.