Patrick Kennedy is a 67-year-old, high-ranking State Department official who — according to FBI documents released on Monday — offered a “quid pro quo” to the FBI in an attempt to get the Bureau to switch a single classified email to “unclassified.” The FBI declined the request and the State Department says that the “quid pro quo” allegation “does not align with the facts.”
Here’s what you need to know about Kennedy.
1. He Was Appointed by President George W. Bush
Kennedy, a native of Chicago, has served the administrations of eight presidents, five Republicans and three Democrats. He graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Foreign Service, and served in the Foreign Service from 1973 to 1993. He then became Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform, appointed in 2001 by then-President George W. Bush and in 2007 he became Under Secretary of State for Management.
He was nominated to that position by Bush, a Republican, and confirmed by the Senate which was then controlled by a Democratic majority. He still holds that job today.
2. He’s Been Called ‘The Most Powerful Guy You’ve Never Heard Of’
Though he is essentially a high-ranking bureaucrat, Kennedy was called “the most powerful guy you’ve never heard of,” in a Chicago Tribune story earlier this year, by an anonymous former diplomat who, the paper said, feared “angering” Kennedy if he spoke about him for attribution.
“When anything happens in the world, someone at the White House is going to call Pat first,” Beth Jones, a former acting assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, said in the article.
3. His ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Request Failed
Despite the perception of Kennedy’s power in Washington circles, his attempt to persuade the FBI to alter the classification of a single email, as described in the Monday document release, went nowhere. The FBI said that it reviewed Kennedy’s request and decided that the email had been classified appropriately, and that it “remains classified today.”
The State Department wanted the email unclassified so that it could be included in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request from an unspecified party along with four other Clinton emails which were already unclassified.
According to the FBI documents, the email pertained to the security of a foreign government, not the United States, but the State Department maintained that the country in question “does not have an official government,” and therefore the FBI should not mark the email as classified.
After a discussion with the FBI lasting 15 minutes that went nowhere, Kennedy then called Michael Steinbach, the assistant director of the bureau’s counter-terrorism division. But Steinbach also refused to unclassify the email.
The reference to a country without “an official government” likely indicated Libya.
4. He Allegedly Offered to Set Up New FBI Jobs as the ‘Quid Pro Quo’
In new FBI documents released Monday morning, Kennedy is said to have offered the “quid pro quo” to an FBI official whose name is whited-out in the documents. In exchange for unclassifying the single email, Kennedy said that the State Department would let the FBI place agents in countries where there were currently not permitted.
Apparently, Kennedy was referring to Iraq, because in a later statement on Monday, the State Department called the “quid pro quo” allegation “inaccurate”, adding that “furthermore, no increase in FBI Iraq slots resulted from this conversation.”
5. Kennedy Was Also at the Center of the Benghazi Investigations
Congressional Republicans say that Kennedy was the point man for security decisions leading up to the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack in Libya that killed four Americans, portraying his as a “stooge” for the Obama Administration, according to the conservative National Review magazine, even though he is not ” a longtime Obama backer,” the magazine said.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi subjected Kennedy to 13 hours of intense questioning, and he was also deposed by Judicial Watch, the right-wing watchdog organization that has pushed the Clinton email investigation.
“When the Benghazi committee interviewed him, he was a deft witness – he knew what to say and what not to say,” Republican House Member Mike Pompeo said. “Kennedy is the quintessential bureaucrat.”