Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, demanded in a letter the State Department explain why it hired a couple lawyers from the same law firm currently representing Hillary Clinton to also field and fulfill Freedom of Information Act requests concerning her emails.
The attorneys, Catherine Duval and Austin Evers, don’t have experience with FOIA requests, and since they’re also defending Clinton in the issues surrounding her email server and its messages, the double-duty seems suspicious, Goodlatte said.
“At the very least, this suspect arrangement raises questions about the State Department hiring process,” Goodlatte wrote, in a letter to Steven Linick, the inspector general for State, the Washington Examiner reported. “At worst, it suggests willful obstruction by handpicked Clinton associates at the State Department on behalf of former Secretary Clinton, to ensure damaging or incriminating documents never saw the light of day.”
The Washington Examiner reports:
“Documents first given to Congress and later made public by the FBI this week suggest several witnesses told investigators that high-level agency officials attempted to influence the FOIA review process.
“Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s undersecretary for management, was cited by multiple witnesses as the instigator of an ultimately unsuccessful bid to trade favors for the declassification of a Benghazi-related email that had been upgraded to the ‘secret’ level by the FBI.
“The State Department and Kennedy himself denied that discussions of “quid pro quo” ever took place.
“However, the now-retired FBI agent, who was accused of seeking approval for an FBI presence in Iraq in exchange for consideration of Kennedy’s request, confirmed to reporters this week that the discussions did occur.”
The State Department, through its spokesman John Kirby, denied anything untoward was occurring.
His words, according to the Washington Examiner:
“‘As we have said before, the mere fact of previously working at a firm does not in itself constitute a conflict of interest,’ Kirby said. “Williams & Connolly is a large firm, and we are not aware that any counsel working on Clinton-related oversight matters at the Department did so prior to joining the Department. Kate Duval and Austin Evers are exceptional professionals, and the Department and Secretary Kerry have full trust and confidence in their work at the Department.’”