The latest round of FBI 302s created quite a stir when it revealed a blatant "quid pro quo" arrangement between a senior executive at the State Department, Patrick Kennedy, and an FBI agent. Per the 302s, Kennedy contacted someone within the FBI to seek "assistance in altering the email's classification in exchange for a 'quid pro quo.'" In return for altering the email's classification, Kennedy promised that "STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden."
The 302s also explained that Kennedy needed the email to be changed to unclassified because it "caused problems for Kennedy" who wanted to reclassify the email as "B9" which would exempt it from FOIA discovery and allow Kennedy to "archive the document in the basement of DOS never to be seen again."
Now, according to Fox News, government sources have confirmed that the email behind the "quid pro quo" arrangement is the one below sent from Jake Sullivan to Hillary on November 18, 2012 at 8:44PM. The email is heavily redacted but seemingly includes intel on the Benghazi attackers who stormed a U.S. compound the previous month on September 11, 2012.
Given the heavy redaction, it's difficult to say exactly why this particular email was of such great concern to Kennedy. Given that the email was marked "Classified: SECRET", perhaps he was simply concerned that it proved that Hillary sent classified information over her private network. Or, given the timing of the message being sent just 12 days after the election in 2012, perhaps there is evidence in the email that Hillary and Obama both knew from the beginning that the September 11 attacks in Benghazi were never just a "spontaneous reaction to a youtube video" but a coordinated terrorist attack...if so, Mitt Romney would sure love to have a look at what's behind those whited out boxes.
Of course, the State Department is maintaining their position that nothing inappropriate happened between State and the FBI, with the notable exception of some potential FBI incompetency.
In a written statement Wednesday, the State Department questioned the competency of FBI investigators and the accuracy of the interview summaries that report Kennedy wanted a backroom deal on the record.
"Speaking to what actually did occur -- Under Secretary Kennedy sought to understand the FBI's process for withholding certain information from public release. Reference to a b9 exemption is mistaken," the State Department spokesperson said. "Under Secretary Kennedy explained that State's preference would be to use a b7 law enforcement redaction. In any case, the document still would have been released on our FOIA website."
In a written statement, Kennedy also denied “bargaining.”
But seasoned national security defense attorneys said an FBI 302 is a document of record.
"An FBI 302 does not contain opinion work by the FBI," defense lawyer Edward MacMahon Jr. said. "If somebody said that somebody offered me for something else, and that's in a 302, that agent is going to say I’m sure that that's exactly what happened."
Meanwhile Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), has promised more congressional hearings to get to the bottom of what he described as "some of the most unbelievable set of documents that we've seen to date."
Pressing for changes to the email classification after a congressional subpoena and preservation order were issued in March 2015 would have the effect of changing evidence, according to Republicans pursuing the matter.
"The FBI thought this information was not relevant and that is just stunning to me because this is some of the most unbelievable set of documents that we've seen to date," Chaffetz said. "It really goes to the core of why we're so concerned.”
We certainly look forward to learning more when Congress actually goes back to work next month.