Top Clinton aide offered FBI a funding 'quid pro quo' if agents helped him bury a Benghazi email – 'never to be seen again' – during probe of Hillary's secret server
- A senior State Department official pressured the FBI to declassify one of Hillary Clinton's emails related to the Benghazi, Libya terror attack
- FBI interview notes show Patrick Kennedy wanted to hide the email from public view using the Freedom of Information Act instead
- He said he would use the FOIA loophole known as 'B9,' which covers geological information on oil and gas wells
- The FBI's summary of his interview in Hillary Clinton's classified emails case shows he discussed a 'quid pro quo' to approve more FBI funding that would put agents in countries where they are currently not allowed to go
- State Department denies the account; Donald Trump's campaign is putting on a full-court press to capitalize on the new wrinkle in a lengthy scandal
A senior State Department official pressured the FBI to declassify one of Hillary Clinton's emails related to the Benghazi terror attack so he could use a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act to make sure it would never see the light of day, according to notes from an FBI interview released Monday.
State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, the FBI file shows, discussed the possibility of approving the FBI's request for funding 'to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden.'
The FBI agent who interviewed him during the investigation into classified documents housed on Clinton's now-infamous secrt email server called the proposal a 'quid pro quo.'
The fallout from the bombshell revelation threatens to turn the presidential race upside down. The Obama administration rushed to deny the FBI's claim, and Donald Trump's campaign called it new evidence of a criminal conspiracy to hide the truth.
BUSTED: State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy, a newly released FBI file shows, discussed the possibility of approving the FBI's request for more personnel funding of the agency helped him get rid of one of Hillary Clinton's problematic emails
'NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN': Kennedy asked the FBI to help him bury the Benghazi-related emails by declassifying it so he could use a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act to keep it from public view
NO SALE: The FBI ultimately told Kennedy that it wouldn't help him declassify the email
'The classification of the email was not changed, and it remains classified today,' the State Department said in a statement. 'Although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review.'
Separately, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the FBI's 'allegation is inaccurate and does not align with the facts.'
FBI interviews are generally not recorded, leaving individual agents' notes as the only records from which final case reports are written.
Classified documents are generally redacted – blacked out – in whole or in part when they are released to the media and the public. But portions that remain can still be damaging to public officials who author them.
But authority to release documents that are unclassified or declassified rests with the cabinet agency that produced them, meaning the State Department would have had the power to invoke one of the FOIA laws' exemptions to ensure that the document would always stay hidden.
'Kennedy told [redacted] that the FBI's classification of the email in question caused problems for Kennedy and Kennedy wanted to classify the document as "B9",' The FBI report says.
'Kennedy further stated that the 'B9' classification would allow him to archive the document in the basement of DoS [Department of State] never to be seen again.'
TROUBLE: Hillary Clinton kept a secret private email server in her basement, which housed thousands of documents later determined to be classified, and her deputy at the State Department flagged one about the Benghazi terror attacks as especially problematic
'UNBELIEVABLE': Donald Trump tweeted his one-word reaction to the news, which will fuel his message that Democratic elites have 'rigged' the election despite Clinton's 'criminal' conduct
The 'B9' FOIA exemption known is a rarely invoked option that protects geological and geophysical data, information and maps. It's normally used to keep information about oil and gas wells secret.
That could indicate that the email Kennedy sought to shield from the public had something to do with oil reserves in Libya.
'The e-mail of Kennedy's concern was classified by the FBI Counterterrorism Division (CTD),' the FBi report says, 'and was related to the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.'
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn blasted Clinton and her inner circle on Monday in a statement circulated by the Trump campaign.
'These FBI documents provide undeniable proof that Hillary Clinton colluded with the FBI, DOJ and State Department to cover up criminal activity at the highest levels,' Flynn said.
'Hillary Clinton has recklessly put our national security at extreme risk. We have men and women putting their lives on the line for this country. If any person had done a fraction of what she has done with our sensitive information they would be criminally charged and those in our military would be court-martialed.'
Trump himself tweeted a breaking-news article accompanied by a single word: 'Unbelievable.'
THE ASK: Kennedy pressed the FBI about whether agents could 'see their way to marking the email unclassified' so the State Department would have full discretion about what to do with it
COVER-UP? The Benghazi, Libya terror attack in 2012 is already the subject of numerous Republican claims that Clinton sought to hide the truth from voters and Congress
The Republican presidential nominee's spokesman, Jason Miller, told reporters that the FBI document 'should be distressing for anyone who cares about keeping classified information safe.
'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,' he added.
The Clinton campaign has made no comment on the swirling controversy.
Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hinted on Saturday at the news to come.
'In return for altering the classification, the possibility of additional slots for the FBI at missions overseas was discussed,' Chaffetz said on the Fox News Channel, saying he was 'infuriated' and promising a series of four public hearings on the matter.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday that 'the Obama Administration's blatant attempts to shield Hillary Clinton from accountability for her reckless conduct will only inflame the growing distrust Americans have for their own government.'
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