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Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler debunked claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and right-wing media that the FBI and State Department engaged in a “quid pro quo” in order for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to face less scrutiny for her use of a private email server as secretary of state. Kessler asserted “there is no evidence” of any alleged “collusion” between the two agencies.
Trump and his campaign baselessly claimed that transcripts released by the FBI relating to their investigation into Clinton’s email use show that a top State Department official proposed a “quid pro quo” wherein the FBI would agree to lower the classification level of one of Clinton’s emails if the State Department would agree to allow the posting of more FBI officals in Iraq. Right-wing media asserted that the FBI documents “bolster Donald Trump’s criticism of corruption.” The same flawed analysis made its way to mainstream media and GOP lawmakers, who are using it to call for a State Department official to be fired. But as NBC’s Andrea Mitchell pointed out, there “was no quid pro quo, there was no linkage” and “there was nothing at all nefarious” that happened between the two agencies. Even the FBI official involved in the alleged collusion disputed the pejorative characterization of the interaction, telling The Washington Post it is “a reach.”
In the October 19 fact-check, Kessler explained that “‘quid pro quo’ was a secondhand description of a conversation — and both people who engaged in the conversation insist there was no collusion. Moreover, there is no evidence that anything happened as a result of the conversation.” Kessler added that summaries of the exchanges between the officials show “that whatever was said in the conversation, nothing happened to change the classification of the emails,” which “certainly undercuts Trump’s claim of ‘collusion.’” From the fact-check:
Trump rushed out a video statement to supporters claiming that there was “collusion” between the State Department, FBI and the Justice Department “to make Hillary Clinton look less guilty” after news reports that an FBI official spoke of a “quid pro quo” between the FBI and State regarding the classification status of some of Clinton’s emails.
“Quid pro quo” certainly sounds bad. But as more information has come in, there’s much less to the story than Trump claims.
The statement about “quid pro quo” comes from an FBI summary of an interview (known as a 302) with a third, unidentified FBI official during the criminal investigation of Clinton’s private email account. But there are other interviews as well, including with [then-FBI director for international operations Brian] McCauley and [then-State Department undersecretary of state for administration Patrick] Kennedy. Moreover, even the summaries with the unnamed official shows that whatever was said in the conversation, nothing happened to change the classification of the emails.
That certainly undercuts Trump’s claim of “collusion.”
To sum up, “quid pro quo” was a secondhand description of a conversation — and both people who engaged in the conversation insist there was no collusion. Moreover, there is no evidence that anything happened as a result of the conversation. The FBI did not back down from its contention that the email should to labeled as classified.