House Speaker Paul Ryan said new FBI documents released on Monday appeared to offer proof a “cover-up” took place in relation to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“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,” Ryan said in a statement.
The documents released on Monday, which are notes of an interview with an unnamed individual, suggested a “quid pro quo” offer from the State Department to the FBI to declassify a Hillary Clinton email.
According to the documents, the unnamed official said Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy requested changing the classification of an email that the FBI had marked classified, and implied that in return the FBI would be able to place more agents abroad.
In his statement, the House speaker reiterated his criticisms of Clinton’s email practices while serving as secretary of state, saying the exchange demonstrated a “complete disregard for properly handling classified information.”
“This is exactly why I called on DNI Clapper” – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – “to deny her access to classified information,” Ryan said.
In its own statement on Monday, the FBI said it did not change the classification of the email, and claimed that the employment requests abroad were meant to be viewed separately from the classification requests.
“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.”
Ryan’s criticism of Clinton comes at a moment when the speaker has found himself isolated from members of both parties. Since declaring his intention not to defend Donald Trump, Ryan has borne the brunt of the Republican presidential nominee’s Twitter attacks and barbs.