FBI documents: US State Dept official 'pressured' FBI to declassify Clinton email

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senior official at the U.S. State Department tried to push the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2015 into dropping its insistence that an email from Hillary Clinton's private server contained classified information, according to summaries of interviews with FBI officials released by the FBI on Monday.

According to the records, an FBI official, whose name is redacted, told investigators that Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's most senior manager, repeatedly "pressured" the FBI to declassify information in one of Clinton's emails. The information in that particular email originated from the FBI, which meant that the FBI had the last word on whether it remained classified.

SEE ALSO: Conservative newspaper endorses Clinton and gets death threats

The official said the State Department's office of legal counsel called him to question the FBI's ruling that the information was classified, but the FBI stood by its decision.

Soon after, one of the official's colleagues at the FBI received a call from Kennedy in which Kennedy "asked his assistance in altering the email's classification in exchange for a 'quid pro quo.'"

The FBI official said he also joined at least two discussions in which Kennedy "continued to pressure" the FBI about the email. The official said Kennedy appeared to be trying to protect Clinton by minimizing the appearance of classified government secrets in emails from the private server that Clinton used while she was secretary of state. The government forbids people from sending classified information via unsecured channels.

23 PHOTOS
Hillary Clinton's Email Scandal
See Gallery
Hillary Clinton's Email Scandal
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential hopeful former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in San Gabriel, Calif. The State Department released Friday another 3,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account, missing a court-ordered goal for their production by a week. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Representative Susan Brooks, a Republican from Indiana, questions Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Under scrutiny for her handling of the Benghazi attacks and her use of a private e-mail server, Clinton plans to invoke the memory of slain U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens to defend her approach to diplomacy, saying they shared a common belief in the need for America to lead. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this photo taken Aug. 27, 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Cleveland. The State Department is expected to release roughly 7,000 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails later Monday, including about 150 that have been censored because they contain information that has now been deemed classified. (AP Photo/David Richard)
This portion of an email from Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email account when she was secretary of state and released by the State Department on Sept. 30, 2015, shows an email Clinton received early in the morning on Aug. 3, 2011. The newly released emails show Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Clinton's private email account while she was secretary of state. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account. Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets, which would have allowed hackers to take control of their computers. Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software have said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The State Department review of Clinton's emails so far has found as many as 305 messages that could contain classified information and require further review by federal agencies, the department said Monday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens as she meets with voters during a campaign stop at River Valley Community College in Claremont, N.H. Clinton has relented to months of demands that she relinquish the personal email server she used while secretary of state, directing the device be given to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks before the National Urban League, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
FILE - In this July 7, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa. A special House committee on the 2012 Benghazi attacks has devolved from an investigation into the deaths of four Americans in Libya into a political fight over Clinton’s emails and private computer servers, in a battle that is likely to stretch into the 2016 presidential election year. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks, Friday, July 24, 2015, at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York. Federal investigators have alerted the Justice Department to a "potential compromise of classified information" arising from the private email server used by Clinton in her home, a department official said Friday. Clinton commented briefly on the issue saying, "We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part but I'm also going to stay focused on the issues." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at an event at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York on July 24, 2015. The Justice Department said it had received a request to probe whether Hillary Clinton mishandled sensitive government information by using her private email for State Department business. 'The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,' a department official said in a brief statement that confirmed in part a story that first appeared in The New York Times. AFP PHOTO/ KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this April 29, 2015, file photo, Huma Abedin, attends the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum in New York. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has given the State Department a few months to provide The Associated Press with thousands of documents it sought in a federal lawsuit. The Aug. 7, order means the documents, including schedules and calendars from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be released months ahead of the spring presidential primary elections. Leon ordered the department to produce within 30 days records related to Abedin, a former top Clinton aide, during her time as secretary of state. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Huma Abedin (R), aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, looks on during a news conference following Clinton's keynote speech at a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and other members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Peter Roskam (R-IL), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speaks to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Congressional aides say the special House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will issue subpoenas for Clinton's personal emails. The aides say that possible as early as Wednesday, the committee will seek the additional material from the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
HIDE CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION

In a separate interview, another unnamed FBI official said Kennedy told him in a phone call that the FBI's insistence that the emails were classified "caused problems" for Kennedy. According to the interview summary, the official said he told Kennedy he would look into the email, which he had not yet seen, if the State Department would consider allowing more FBI agents to be posted in Iraq in exchange.

The State Department and the FBI both confirmed that the conversation about both the email's classification and that an increase in FBI slots in Iraq took place, but both said they were was no "quid pro quo."

Clinton, the Democratic candidate for the Nov. 8 presidential election, has faced steady criticism from Republicans over her use of the unauthorized server for her work as the country's most senior diplomat from 2009 to 2013.

After a year-long FBI investigation into the server, FBI Director James Comey said in July he found that while laws governing classified information may have been broken no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges. He said, however, that Clinton and her staff had been "extremely careless" in handling classified information.

The FBI released 100 pages of interview summaries on Monday, the fourth release of documents from its investigation.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there was "no quid pro quo," and told reporters that it was the FBI official who raised the possibility with Kennedy of the State Department allowing more agents in Iraq during the conversation about the email.

"After the conversation took place about the upgrading classification, at the end of that, there was a kind of, 'Oh, by the way, hey, we're looking at how we want more slots" in Iraq, Toner said, calling it a "clear pivot" in the topic of conversation.

The FBI also confirmed both topics were raised in the same conversation. "Although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review," the FBI said in its statement, which did not say what the outcome of the review was.

Other officials have made similar complaints of unusual pressure not to mark information as classified in Clinton's emails last year. According to earlier documents the FBI released last month, at least one official at the State Department told investigators that there was pressure by senior department officials to mislead the public about the presence of classified information in Clinton's emails ahead of their public release.

A summary released on Monday showed another official in the office of the State Department's inspector general making similar allegations.

The State Department has said these allegations are also false. About 30,000 emails Clinton that returned to the department after she left were released to the public in 2015 and 2016.

The State Department said the email Kennedy discussed with the FBI was related to the attack in 2012 on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

Ultimately, the FBI told Kennedy that declassification was not possible, according to the interview summaries, and the State Department posted it online last year marked as classified, with heavy redactions.

Clinton's Republican rival for the White House, Donald Trump, has accused her of jeopardizing national security while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Trump responded to the allegations against Kennedy with a single-word message on Twitter, saying, "Unbelievable."

Trump has said Clinton "would be in jail" if he becomes president because of her mishandling of classified information.

Several Republican lawmakers called on President Barack Obama to investigate Kennedy and remove him from the department. Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee's chairman, said the president, a Democrat, was trying to "shield" Clinton.

12 PHOTOS
Obama campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina
See Gallery
Obama campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
People listen as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
People react as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A protester shouts slogans as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A protester is escorted out as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Protesters shout slogans as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Barack Obama attends a campaign event for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S. October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
HIDE CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION


"The more documents that come out, the more we learn Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted with a job that is supposed to begin each day with a classified intelligence briefing," Priebus said in his statement.

Clinton has apologized for using the server, which she kept in the basement of her New York home, saying it was a mistake. In 2015 and earlier this year, she repeatedly said she never sent or received classified information via her server, but since the release of the FBI report in July she has said she relied on the judgment of her subordinates at the department.

Robby Mook, her campaign manager, told reporters on Monday it was "very well known that there were disputes" over classification.

"It's not uncommon for officials within a department to fight over classification," he said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners