State Dept official called for 'quid pro quo' on Clinton emails: FBI interviewee claim
By NBC News
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to supporters Sunday in New York. AP photo
CNBC - Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI to unclassify certain emails from Hillary Clinton's private server that were previously deemed classified, according to FBI documents released Monday that cited redacted sources.
In the documents, an unnamed person interviewed by the FBI said Kennedy contacted the FBI to ask for the change in classification in "exchange for a 'quid pro quo.'"
Whether or not Clinton sent classified emails from her private server that could have jeopardized national security has become a key issue ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8, when Clinton will face Republican nominee Donald Trump.
A representative for the State Department categorically denied that claim.
"This allegation is inaccurate and does not align with the facts. To be clear: the State Department did upgrade the document at the request of the FBI when we released it back in May 2015," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said.
"Under Secretary Kennedy sought to understand the FBI's process for withholding certain information from public release," Toner added. "As has been reported, there have been discussions within the interagency on issues of classification. Classification is an art, not a science, and individuals with classification authority sometimes have different views. There can be applicable FOIA exemptions that are based on both classified and unclassified rules."
For its part, the FBI also denied such a "quid pro quo," offering NBC News the following statement:
"Prior to the initiation of the FBI's investigation of former Secretary Clinton's personal email server, the FBI was asked to review and make classification determinations on FBI emails and information which were being produced by the State Department pursuant to FOIA. The FBI determined that one such email was classified at the Secret level. 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. The FBI official subsequently told the senior State official that the email was appropriately classified at the Secret level and that the FBI would not change the classification of the email. The classification of the email was not changed, and it remains classified today. Although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review."