The State Department admitted on Wednesday that it did not know that a career diplomat hired as the agency’s new email and transparency czar donated the maximum allowed under federal law to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Regardless of that potential conflict of interest, agency spokesman John Kirby also acknowledged that the new hire, Janice Jacobs, will likely be involved in processing Clinton’s emails.
Hours after Jacobs’ hiring was announced on Tuesday, it was revealed that she contributed $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign in June. (RELATED: State Department’s New Email Czar Is A Hillary Clinton Donor)
The donation raises questions over whether Jacobs, who served as a U.S. Ambassador under George W. Bush, is the right person for the new job, given the sensitive political nature of the Clinton emails.
A federal judge has required the agency to release Clinton’s in batches at the end of each month. The production process has caused a rift between the State Department and the intelligence community over whether some of Clinton’s emails contained information that was classified at the time it was sent.
The State Department has steadfastly sided with Clinton, who has claimed that she did not handle emails that contained classified information.
Kirby downplayed the potential conflicts of interest on Wednesday, saying that “[Sec. of State John Kerry] wholeheartedly believes that she’s the choice for this job.”
He also pointed out that Jacobs’ main job is not to help review Clinton’s emails. Instead she will help to improve State’s processes for record disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and help with the preservation of agency records.
But as far as handling Clinton’s emails, Kirby did admit that he expects “that she will have views on how that’s being done.”
“So I can’t rule out the fact that she might not be examining some of the documents,” he added.
Asked whether the State Department was aware of Jacobs’ donation to Clinton prior to her hire, Kirby said that “we were not aware of the contribution.”
He defended it, however, saying that “it bears no relevance on her selection one way or the other.”
“There could be times that she executes her duties that she will have to look at or review some of that traffic,” Kirby said, while adding that “even if that were to happen, the fact that she made a donation to Hillary Clinton bears no relevance on her ability to do this job, to do it objectively, to do it fairly.”