- October 15, 2016 -
STATEMENT ON ATTEMPTED COVERUP OF CLINTON’S EMAILS AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT
“The Clinton Campaign Must Immediately Disavow Kennedy And Give The American People A Full Accounting Of Any Communication Relating To The Request To Change The Classification Levels On Certain Emails.” – Jason Miller
“Today’s report in the Weekly Standard that top Clinton State Department aide Patrick Kennedy ‘repeatedly’ tried to change the classification for some of her emails should be distressing for anyone who cares about keeping classified information safe. Not only did Kennedy try and change the classification of certain emails, he tried to do so by offering quid-pro-quos to other agencies in order to get his way. The Clinton campaign must immediately disavow Kennedy and give the American people a full accounting of any communication relating to the request to change the classification levels on certain emails.” – Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor
An Attempted Hillary Email Coverup?
By Stephen F. Hayes
October 15, 2016
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A senior State Department official repeatedly pressed the FBI to change the classification of emails stored on Hillary Clinton's private server, according to FBI interview summaries set to be released in the coming days. Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary of state for management, discussed providing additional overseas slots for the FBI in exchange for revisions to classifications of the sensitive emails.
The 34 summaries, known as FBI "302s," will be released in connection with a Freedom of Information Act request and after pressure from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Two additional 302s are being withheld because they contain information classified at the Top Secret/SAP level.
The summaries, described to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by five intelligence and congressional officials familiar with their contents, are sure to bolster Donald Trump's criticism of corruption at Clinton's State Department, the FBI and Washington, D.C., with just more than three weeks until the 2016 presidential election.
The story about potential reclassification of Clinton emails unfolds over three of the summaries. A senior FBI official in the international operations division describes conversations with Kennedy about the classification of emails. In his interview, this official says his section of the FBI had attempted to contact Kennedy repeatedly over the course of several months in the spring of 2015. Kennedy did not return the calls. In the late spring or early summer of 2015, the FBI official reported to work surprised to find a note indicating that Kennedy had called.
According to the summary, Kennedy wanted help. The FBI official spoke with Kennedy and Kennedy raised the possibility of keeping at least one Clinton email from public disclosure by obtaining a "B9" exemption under the Freedom of Information Act, a rarely used exemption that refers to "geological and geophysical information and data." One email in particular concerned Kennedy and, according to the FBI summary, providing a B9 exemption "would allow him to archive the document in the basement of the department of state never to be seen again." The FBI official told Kennedy that he would look into the email if Kennedy would authorize a pending request for additional FBI personnel in Iraq.
A summary of an interview with the section chief of the FBI records management division provides further evidence of Kennedy's attempts to have the classification of some sensitive emails changed. The FBI records official, whose job includes making determinations on classification, told investigators that he was approached by his colleague in international operations after the initial discussion with Kennedy. The FBI records official says that his colleague "pressured" him to declassify an email "in exchange for a quid pro quo," according to the interview summary. "In exchange for making the email unclassified State would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden." The request was denied.
In the days that followed, the FBI records official attended an "all-agency" meeting at the State Department to discuss the ongoing "classification review of pending Clinton FOIA materials." One of the participants at the meeting asked Kennedy whether any of the emails were classified. Kennedy purposely looked at the FBI records chief and then replied: "Well, we'll see."
After the all-agency meeting, the FBI records section chief met privately with Kennedy. According the FBI interview summary, he reported that "Kennedy spent the next 15 minutes debating the classification of the email and attempting to influence the FBI to change its markings."
The FBI records section chief also told investigators that he sat in on a conference call between Kennedy and FBI Counterterrorism chief Michael Steinbach. Kennedy again pressured Steinbach to change an email from classified to unclassified. Steinbach declined.