Promises of “quid pro quo” to make emails “disappear”
Yesterday, Aleister covered the FBI documents that suggested there might have been an offer of “quid pro quo.” Today, the FBI released a new series of documents that confirm this—ultimately failed—attempt to “influence” the FBI.
BREAKING: Undersecretary of State Kennedy asked FBI to make 'classified' Clinton email 'unclassified' for a 'quid pro quo' – FBI documents
— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) October 17, 2016
Is this dude who literally wrote "quid pro quo" in an email the stupidest man in the State Department? https://t.co/7InIDDROlE
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) October 17, 2016
A senior State Department official proposed a “quid pro quo” to convince the FBI to strip the classification on an email from Hillary Clinton’s server – and repeatedly tried to “influence” the bureau’s decision when his offer was denied, even taking his plea up the chain of command, according to newly released FBI documents.
Fox News first reported Saturday that the FBI interview summaries and notes, known as 302s, contained allegations of a quid pro quo. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who initially told Fox News of the claim, called it a “flashing red light of potential criminality.”
Documents published Monday morning confirm the account. Notes from an interview with an unnamed FBI official reveal the State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy tried to horse-trade with the FBI, offering additional slots for the bureau overseas if they would de-classify a particular email marked “SECRET.”
The FBI documents in question:
According to the documents [above], an unnamed individual said he was “pressured” to “change the classified email to unclassified.”
“[Redacted] indicated he had been contacted by PATRICK KENNEDY, Undersecretary of State, who had asked his assistance in altering the email’s classification in exchange for a ‘quid pro quo,’” the 302 states. “[Redacted] advised that in exchange for marking the email unclassified, STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden.”
At a subsequent meeting at the State Department regarding the classification review of Clinton’s materials where Kennedy presided, someone asked whether any of the emails in question were classified.
“Making eye contact with [redacted] KENNEDY remarked, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” the document says. The official, according to one account, was “attempting to influence the FBI to change its markings.”
Kennedy allegedly asked at that point who else he could speak with and was referred to Michael Steinbach, then a top official with the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. Kennedy “continued to pressure the FBI to change the classified markings on the email to unclassified,” the document says. “STEINBACH refused to do so.”
In a separate interview with the unnamed FBI official, Kennedy tried to get the FBI to issue a B9 FOIA exemption on another email that “caused problems for Kennedy” so that it would “end up in the basement” “never to be seen again.” The FBI declined Kennedy’s offer of additional personnel in Iraq and refused to comply with his request. The email in question concerned the 9/11/12 attack in Benghazi.
Per Catherine Herridge: FBI docs show state dept official wanted an HRC email reclassified, so he could archive it "never to be seen again"
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) October 17, 2016
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.
The FBI documents in question:
And yes, Patrick Kennedy is still at State and still holds the Under Secretary position.
There doesn’t seem to be much hope that anything will come of any of this, however.
If Comey hasn't already granted Kennedy blanket immunity, he might want to get on that. Just to tie up loose ends. https://t.co/Kb4RBIIHRv
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 17, 2016
UPDATE (by WAJ): Here is the State Department’s response, via Free Beacon:
The FBI has denied any quid pro quo was offered. Addressing the controversy at the beginning of Monday’s press briefing, Toner also said there was no quid pro quo and such a claim did not align with the facts.
“Pat Kennedy sought to understand the FBI’s process for withholding certain information from public release, and as all of you know, throughout this process, we were very clear in talking about, at times, that the decision to upgrade or not upgrade certain parts of emails was a topic of discussion among our inter-agency colleagues, about whether certain information should or should not be upgraded in classification,” he said.
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked Toner whether there was any discussion of a quid pro quo at all.
“No,” Toner said.
“Just so we’re perfectly clear, there was no discussion of any quid pro quo?” another reported asked.
“No,” Toner said. “There was no discussion.”
“Was there any discussion of any kind of an exchange with regard to classification procedures on the one hand and FBI slots in U.S. embassies on the other?” the reporter asked.
“No,” Toner said.
Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge said Toner’s remark was in contradiction to the FBI summaries, known as 302s, which said such a discussion took place.
The FBI 302 report states: “[Redacted] indicated he had been contacted by PATRICK KENNEDY, Undersecretary of State, who had asked his assistance in altering the email’s classification in exchange for a ‘quid pro quo.’ “[Redacted] advised that in exchange for marking the email unclassified, STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden.”
“I mean, this conflicts directly with what you’re saying today,” Herridge said after reading it aloud.
“I’m sorry,” Toner said, smiling. “I could speak to the fact that 302s are simply interviews conducted by the FBI.”
“So you’re saying the FBI agent either got it wrong or is lying in this 302?” Herridge asked.
“I can’t speak to what his or her intentions were, saying these kinds of things, but clearly expressing a personal opinion about what happened,” Toner said. “Any, really, assertion that this was somehow tit for tat or quid pro quo, exchange in that manner, really, frankly is insulting.”
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