The latest release of Hillary Clinton emails reveals for the first time that two high-ranking State Department officials — Sec. of State John Kerry and Under Secretary for Management at State Patrick Kennedy — corresponded with Clinton on her personal email account while she was in office.
The finding raises questions over why it took nearly two years for the State Department to formally request Clinton’s work-related emails. Clinton left office in Feb. 2013 but did not turn over her emails until Dec. 2014, thus allowing her to avoid scrutiny from Congress and from Freedom of Information Act requests.
Among the 6,300 pages of emails released on Wednesday is one Kerry, then a Massachusetts senator, sent to Clinton on May 14, 2011 discussing Hamid Karzai, then-president of Afghanistan.
Kennedy’s exchanges with Clinton centered on Libya. The career diplomat emailed Clinton on Feb. 25, 2011 to discuss Americans who were attempting to flee the North African country amid widespread violence there.
Clinton also emailed Kennedy and several other State Department officials on Dec. 4, 2010. In the email, Clinton wrote that she had been invited by Libya’s foreign minister at the time, Musa Kusa, also known as Moussa Koussa, to discuss the U.S.-Libya relationship. Koussa defected from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s inner circle soon after the Libyan civil war erupted in Feb. 2011.
Though the two Kennedy emails contain information about Libya, they were not released in the first batch of approximately 300 Clinton emails turned over to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Those emails were published in May. The State Department revealed last week that it had found another 900 Libya- and Benghazi-related emails.
Asked about both officials’ knowledge of Clinton’s personal email account, a State Department spokesman commented only about Kerry.
“[Kerry] was aware of her email address, but he did not know all the details regarding her email nor the extent to which she used it,” State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach told The Daily Caller.
Both Clinton and the State Department have said that a number of agency officials knew that the current Democratic presidential front-runner used a personal email account. The State Department has not said who at the agency, if anyone, signed off on Clinton’s exclusive use of her personal email account. It is also unclear if anyone, including Kerry and Kennedy, signed off on or knew about Clinton’s private email server.
At least one person at State knew of the off-the-books system.
Bryan Pagliano, who served as chief technology officer on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, was hired on at the State Department in May 2009. There, he helped maintain Clinton’s email server setup and also worked as a senior adviser and deputy chief information officer. In his powerful role, Kennedy oversees the Bureau of Information Resource Management, which oversees the division in which Pagliano worked.
Kennedy became a central figure in the Benghazi investigation after Republican lawmakers accused him of failing to approve enough security to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed there during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012. Kennedy testified on the matter to the House Oversight Committee on Oct. 10, 2012. He denied that Clinton or the State Department failed to protect the U.S.-controlled facility.
Kennedy has also served as the State Department’s point person in Clinton email-related matters. The inspectors general for the State Department and the Intelligence Community sent Kennedy a memo in June informing him that hundreds of Clinton emails contained potentially classified information.
In March, shortly after the scandal broke open, Kennedy sent a letter to Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, informing him that Clinton was authorized to retain control of her emails. Kennedy told Kendall, however, that if any of Clinton’s emails were later deemed to be classified, other arrangements would have to be made.
Kennedy also reportedly attempted to run interference with Congress over whether some Clinton emails contained classified information. Fox News reported in August that Kennedy went to Capitol Hill in July to argue that two emails sent to Clinton by her aides did not contain highly sensitive information. Those emails sparked an FBI investigation, according to Fox.