The Obama administration’s White House counsel was directly involved in deliberations over the release of Hillary Clinton emails as early as spring 2015, according to handwritten FBI agent notes released by the bureau late Friday.
The notes read: "Pat Kennedy (early May '15) calls interagency MTG (meeting) re: scheduled release by JAN '16, asking quick turnarounds - WH Counsel, CIA, etc...OSD, DNI, NSC and (redacted)"
The notes offer a raw account of the case from the perspective of FBI agents. Much of the content already had been documented in previously released FBI interview summaries, called 302s. The reference to “Counsel,” however, appears to be the earliest confirmation of White House involvement.
From the outset, the White House tried to put distance between itself and the former secretary of state’s personal email controversy. The records were also released to Judicial Watch which sued in federal court.
On March 7, 2015, then-President Barack Obama told CBS News that he learned about Clinton's private server for government business from the media. “The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports,” he said. But an email sent from Clinton aide Cheryl Mills later that day, and published by WikiLeaks, shows she told Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta otherwise: "We need to clean this up. He has emails from her -- they do not say state.gov."
The newly released notes, from an interview with a State Department employee, also show how the department's No. 3 at the time, Patrick Kennedy, tried to convince an FBI agent to change the classification of the Clinton emails, arguing they did not contain sensitive information. This was first reported by Fox News in September 2015, and later described in an FBI summary released last year as a "quid pro quo."
At the time, Kennedy and the State Department denied the charge, which was credible.
The notes also cover how FBI agents were expecting 14 bankers boxes of Clinton emails from her lawyer’s firm Williams & Connolly, but only received 12, as Fox News reported in October. The two boxes have never been accounted for.