State Dept Asked Hillary Clinton Attorney To Delete Copies of Classified Benghazi Email

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton / AP

An email captured in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demonstrates that the State Department asked Hillary Clinton’s attorney to delete copies of a classified email related to the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks.

Judicial Watch reported that Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary for management at the State Department, penned a letter to Clinton attorney David Kendall in May recommending he delete all electronic copies of the "secret" email.

Kennedy wrote:

I am writing in reference to the following e-mail that is among the approximately 55,000 pages that were identified as potential federal records and produced on behalf of former Secretary Clinton to the [Department] of State on December 5, 2014: E-mail forwarded by Jacob Sullivan to Secretary Clinton on November 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm (Subject: Fw: FYI- Report of arrests–possible Benghazi connection).

Please be advised that today the above referenced e-mail, which previously was unclassified, has been classified as "Secret" pursuant to Section 1.7(d) of Executive Order 13526 in connection with a review and release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In order to safeguard and protect the classified information, I ask–consistent with my letter to you dated March 23 2015–that you, Secretary Clinton and others assisting her in responding to congressional and related inquiries coordinate in taking the steps set forth below. A copy of the document as redacted under the FOIA is attached to assist you in your search.

Once you have made the electronic copy of the documents for the Department, please locate any electronic copies of the above-referenced classified document in your possession. If you locate any electronic copies, please delete them. Additionally, once you have done that, please empty your "Deleted Items" folder.

The letter demonstrates that the State Department recognized the presence of classified material on Clinton’s personal email system months before it was disclosed in the media.

Kendall declined to immediately follow Kennedy’s orders, writing back in June that it would not be "prudent" to delete copies of the email until after document preservation requests from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the State Department inspector general, and the intelligence community inspector general expire.

Kendall was in possession of three computer thumb drives containing all of Clinton’s work-related emails until the FBI determined that he could not continue to hold emails containing classified information. The attorney was forced to hand over the drives to the Justice Department at the same time Clinton relinquished her server.

Multiple intelligence agencies have confirmed that at least two of the emails contained on the former secretary of state’s personal system held top secret information at the time they were sent. Hundreds more have been flagged for possibly containing classified information.

Clinton has repeatedly denied sending or receiving information marked classified on her personal email.