Patrick Kennedy, U.S. State Department's Under Secretary of State for Management, apparently pressured officials to change a "classified" Hillary Clinton email to "unclassified," according FBI documents released Monday, which included the account told by an official in the FBI records department. The official, whose identity was redacted in the documents, alleged Kennedy proposed a "quid pro quo" deal to a colleague in the FBI's International Operations Division that would allow the bureau to place more agents in countries where it was currently forbidden in exchange for the shift in classification.
The FBI released the interview summaries, known as "302s," as a part of a Freedom of Information Act request Monday. Kennedy, who is not related to the Rhode Island politician of the same name, has served in the state department for four decades. He has worked for six secretary of states in senior management positions since 1993, according to the Washington Post.
He told the paper in July that the private email server used by the now Democratic nominee for president Clinton, which has become a major point of political debate in the 2016 presidential election, "did not strike any bells" that worried him.
"It’s not — it’s not something that I ever focused on," Kennedy said to the Post.
Kennedy is a native of Chicago and was confirmed in his post as Under Secretary of State for Management in 2007. Per the State Department website he is "responsible for the people, resources, budget, facilities, technology, financial operations, consular affairs, logistics, contracting, and security for Department of State operations, and is the Secretary’s principal advisor on management issues."
The Clinton email controversy stems from her use of a private server during her tenure as secretary of state, and concerns over mishandling of confidential information. The same account in the FBI documents released Monday,described one FBI official asking during a meeting if any of the emails were classified, which reportedly prompted Kennedy to make eye contact with an FBI official and say, "Well, we'll see." The records official then described a private meeting after that, in which Kennedy asked if the FBI "could see their way" to marking the email in question unclassified.
The FBI responded over the weekend to the supposed "quid pro quo" situation after Rep. Jason Chaffetz told news outlets the details on which he had been briefed. In a lengthy statement provided to multiple news outlets, the FBI denied there was a "quid pro quo" deal and said, in part:
"A senior State Department official requested the FBI re-review that email to determine whether it was in fact classified or whether it might be protected from release under a different FOIA exemption. A now-retired FBI official, who was not part of the subsequent Clinton investigation, told the State Department official that they would look into the matter. Having been previously unsuccessful in attempts to speak with the senior State official, during the same conversation, the FBI official asked the State Department official if they would address a pending, unaddressed FBI request for space for additional FBI employees assigned abroad. Following the call, the FBI official consulted with a senior FBI executive responsible for determining the classification of the material and determined the email was in fact appropriately classified at the Secret level."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican, meanwhile, was highly critical Monday of Clinton and Kennedy. "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," he said in a statement.