Cummings Releases Backgrounder on Latest Republican Allegations about Secretary Clinton’s Emails

Oct 17, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Releases Backgrounder on  Latest Republican Allegations about  Secretary Clinton’s Emails


Republicans have once again omitted key information in their obsession with Secretary Clinton’s emails in an attempt to impact the election.

This time, Republicans claim that an FBI official proposed a “quid pro quo” in which the FBI would downgrade its classification of one of Secretary Clinton’s emails if State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy supported allowing more FBI personnel into Iraq.

Republicans fail to mention that the State Department Inspector General already investigated whether there was undue or inappropriate influence in the FOIA and classification process for Secretary Clinton’s emails.  The Inspector General reported to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in January 2016 that they found none. 

Republicans also fail to mention that other interview notes released by the FBI contradict their allegations.

  • First, both of the individuals who were part of the alleged “quid pro quo” conversation denied any quid pro quo to the FBI. 
  • The FBI official who allegedly offered the “quid pro quo” said that he offered only to “look into the e-mail matter.”  (p. 28)
  • After learning of the opposition to changing the classification, the FBI official immediately told Kennedy that “there was no way he could assist Kennedy.”  (p. 29)
  • The FBI official explained:  “Not yet knowing the e-mail’s content, REDACTED told Kennedy he would look into the e-mail matter if Kennedy would provide authority concerning the FBI’s request to increase its personnel in Iraq. …  Following his conversation with Kennedy, REDACTED contacted REDACTED to discuss the e-mail of concern.  REDACTED told REDACTED the e-mail of Kennedy’s concern was classified by the FBI Counterterrorism Division (CTD) and was related to the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.  Following his conversation with REDACTED, REDACTED contacted Kennedy and informed him that there was no way he could assist Kennedy with declassifying the information contained in the e-mail.” (p. 28-29)
  • Contrary to Republican claims that Kennedy tried to “get classification markings doctored,” FBI files released weeks ago explained that Kennedy “categorically rejected” this allegation:  “Kennedy ‘categorically rejected’ allegations he attempted [to] influence FOIA markings to protect and/or mask classified information.”  (p. 59)

Republicans also fail to mention that the FBI had already put out a public statement rejecting these allegations:

“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.”


114th Congress