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Clinton emails: Lawmakers call for State official’s removal amid 'quid pro quo' allegations


Lawmakers are asking President Barack Obama to remove Patrick Kennedy from office after allegations surfaced Monday that the undersecretary of state attempted to get one of Hillary Clinton's emails declassified in a "quid pro quo" agreement with federal investigators.

>> Read more trending stories

In a joint statement, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chafetz, R-Utah, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, called Kennedy's purported attempt to persuade investigators to declassify an email "extremely disturbing."

"Those who receive classified intelligence should not barter in it – that is reckless behavior with our nation's secrets," the statement said. "Someone who would try to get classification markings doctored should not continue serving in the State Department or retain access to classified information. Therefore, President Obama and Secretary (John) Kerry should immediately remove Undersecretary Kennedy pending a full investigation."

>> Related: Clinton emails: State official accused of offering FBI 'quid pro quo' to unclassify email

The FBI on Monday released 100 pages of documents compiled as part of the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. The controversy has dogged the Democratic nominee for president on the campaign trail.

She served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Allegations that Kennedy attempted to convince federal investigators to declassify an email related to the 2012 Benghazi attacks came to light in partially redacted interview notes released Monday.

"(Redacted) received a call from (redacted) of the International Operations Division (IOD) of the FBI, who 'pressured' him to change the classified email to unclassified. (Redacted) indicated he had been contacted by PATRICK KENNEDY, Undersecretary of State, who had asked his assistance in altering the email's classification in exchange for a 'quid pro quo,'" according to the notes.

>> Related: WikiLeaks emails: Trump questions whether DOJ, Clinton 'colluded' on email probe

"(Redacted) advised that, in exchange for marking the email unclassified, STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they were presently forbidden."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called the revelations "unbelievable" in a tweet on Monday.

He has promised, if elected, to have a special prosecutor investigate the email scandal.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in a statement that the documents prove that "our aggressive oversight work in the House is so important."

"These documents further demonstrate Secretary Clinton's complete disregard for properly handling classified information," he said. "Moreover, a senior State Department official's attempt to pressure the FBI to hide the extent of this mishandling bears all the signs of a cover-up."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, accused Kennedy of committing a felony through the alleged "quid pro quo." He called for Kennedy, who is not related to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, to be prosecuted in a tweet sent Monday.

In a statement released to Politico, State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner denied that State officials requested a "quid pro quo" from federal investigators.

"Undersecretary Kennedy sought to understand the FBI's process for withholding certain information from public release," he said. "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."

>> Related: FBI: No charges recommended in Clinton email investigation, Clinton responds

In a statement released to NBC News, the FBI also denied that a "quid pro quo" situation had taken place. Instead, officials said, Kennedy sought to understand whether an email classified "secret" should be "protected from release under a different FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) exemption."

According to FBI interview notes, Kennedy sought to have the email classified as "B9," a FOIA exception related to geological and geophysical information.

"Although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review," the statement said.


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