6 things we learned from new FBI documents on Clinton investigation

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., right, as she arrives to speak at a campaign office in Seattle, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Documents released by the FBI Monday are raising new questions about the State Department and the FBI’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

The latest batch of records from the FBI investigation includes 100 pages of summaries of interviews agents conducted with State Department staff, FBI staff, and others. As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump blasts the FBI's work as rigged, irregularities and unusual behavior reported in these documents could add more fuel to that fire.

Among the revelations:

1. Quid pro quo

An official in the FBI’s Records Management Division told investigators that he was informed Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy wanted the FBI to reverse its decision to classify the contents of one email in exchange for a “quid pro quo.”

Kennedy and another FBI official had allegedly discussed the FBI changing the classification of the document if State allowed more FBI personnel in Iraq. Despite repeated attempts by Kennedy to convince various FBI officials the email should not be classified, none agreed to make the change.

The email was related to the terrorist attacks on a diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in Benghazi in 2012 and Kennedy supposedly wanted to “archive the document in the basement of DoS never to be seen again.”

The FBI and the State Department have denied that there was any quid pro quo agreement.

2. Dark web

Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch paid a contractor to conduct an investigation of open source data on the dark web and deep web to determine whether any material from Clinton’s server had ended up overseas.

The search turned up hundreds of documents from the server of Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal on a server in Romania. Romanian hacker Guccifer is known to have breached Blumenthal’s accounts.

Another document, an excel file listing names of “known or suspected jihadists in Libya,” was also found on the Romanian server. The FBI report suggests that file may have originated on Clinton’s server.

“The file did not come from Blumenthal’s server, but contained a reference to an IP address range that included the IP address of Clinton’s server,” the FBI report states.

The contractor ceased the search after finding the potentially classified information.

3. Diplomatic security

A former diplomatic security agent who worked for Condoleezza Rice and briefly worked for Clinton “described a ‘stark difference’ between Rice and Clinton with regard to obedience to security and diplomatic protocols.”

The official claimed Clinton “frequently and blatantly” disregarded protocol, at times putting herself, her detail, and the press in danger.

On one trip in Indonesia, the official said Clinton dismissed the recommendations of diplomatic security and brought the press into a dangerous area of Jakarta for an event related to her “clean cooking stoves” initiative.

Clinton endangered herself and others “to conduct a photo opportunity for ‘her election campaign,’” the former official claimed. Clinton also supposedly traveled with “hand-picked media who would present her in a favorable light in order to gain political support.”

According to the former official, “DS agents had the perception that Clinton was using her position as secretary of state to campaign for president.”

The former official described Clinton as “contemptuous” of security agents and complained that she brought her Blackberry into her office, which was a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), in violation of security regulations. Another former agent told investigators the device was kept in a drawer at the security post in the office and Clinton took it outside when she wanted to use it.

4. Missing evidence

There are a few references in the documents to pieces of evidence that appear to be missing. These details have been mentioned in previously released FBI records but there is more context here.

A State Department employee told investigators that staffers were originally told to pick up 14 boxes of hard copies of emails from Clinton’s office. They later only got 12 boxes from her attorney’s office. Witnesses questioned by investigators did not know what happened to the boxes or whether any emails were missing.

The documents also catalog attempts by the FBI to track down a laptop containing an archive of Clinton’s emails that an aide sent to an employee of Platte River Networks, the company that was managing her server. According to documents released last month, the Platte River employee attempted to send the laptop to a Clinton office location after deleting the archive, but it has never been found.

Multiple Platte River staffers told the FBI they did not know anything about the laptop.

5. Shadow Government

The alleged quid pro quo agreement was not the only incidence of Patrick Kennedy allegedly attempting to exert influence on the review process chronicled in the documents.

He and other top State Department officials had weekly meetings on the FOIA process and Clinton-related inquiries. Some referred to this group as the “Shadow Government.”

According to one FOIA official, this group tried to dictate the schedule for the release of Clinton’s emails to the public.

An employee of the State Department Office of the Inspector General said Kennedy was not uncooperative with its investigation but his “tone and tenor were definitely not positive.” Some FOIA officials were uncomfortable with his attitude toward them.

The Trump campaign issued a statement Monday demanding that Kennedy resign immediately.

6. Immense pressure

Interviews with those involved in the FOIA review process for about 300 Benghazi-related emails cast doubt on the procedures that were followed. An official in the Information Programs and Services office said there was “immense pressure” to complete the review quickly and to not designate anything classified.

“IPS officials felt intimidated when they used or suggested the use of the B1 exemption on any of the 296 emails,” the interview summary states.

Instead of regular FOIA contact people at the FBI and the National Security Agency, the team reviewing the Benghazi emails used contacts at the Department of Justice and the White House.

FOIA officials also expressed concerns that attorneys appointed to the legislative affairs office who previously worked at the law firm representing Clinton were involved in the process, which was abnormal, and this included an attorney who had been involved with reviewing Lois Lerner's records at the IRS.

An employee of the Intelligence Community Office of the Inspector General told FBI investigators the public release of the Benghazi emails violated FOIA rules and they believe classifications were improperly designated or changed.

Officials from the ICIG office met with Kennedy and other State Department staff last summer, telling them they were going to assist with the review of the 30,000 work-related emails Clinton turned over, whether they wanted help or not. The ICIG employee said State officials made several misrepresentations in that meeting, including the claim that none of the emails contained classified information.

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