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WASHINGTON – Another jolting disclosure in the Hillary Clinton email scandal: The State Department asked her lawyer to destroy all electronic copies of an email with classified information on the Benghazi terrorist attack.

Clinton attorney David Kendall refused the request from Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, citing requests by Congress and other investigators to preserve her records, but he suggested the email might be deleted at some point.

This latest revelation was uncovered by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of its lawsuit asking a federal court to protect any emails Clinton has not yet provided, including the ones she and her staff declared were personal.

On Monday, as WND reported, Judicial Watch learned there are gaps totaling five months in the emails sent and received by Clinton on her private server, beginning when she took office as secretary of state in 2009.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the gaps indicate Clinton lied under oath when she said all her emails had been turned over.

In response to a court order prompted by a Judicial Watch lawsuit, Clinton declared in August, under penalty of perjury, “I have directed that all of my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or potentially were federal records be provided to the Department of State.”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton

“Judicial Watch exposed a cover-up with criminal implications. Why on Earth would John Kerry’s State Department tell Mrs. Clinton to delete classified Benghazi records before finding out where and how this material had been disclosed?” asked Fitton.

He added: “That the State Department asked Clinton’s lawyer to destroy federal records shows a level of disdain for the rule of law that goes beyond the pale. These letters should have been disclosed to more than one federal judge. The evident contempt and obstruction of justice by both Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration will be brought to the attention the courts.”

Fitton’s group announced Thursday it had also obtained documents showing Clinton has ignored an order to provide electronic copies of the 55,000 pages of emails she previously provided only on paper.

A July 2 letter on from the chief records officer at National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, Paul M. Wester Jr., to Margaret P. Grafeld, deputy assistant secretary for global information services at the State Department, shows the records were not turned over, as the department made a second request:

I would like to reiterate our request that the Department contact the representatives of former Secretary Clinton to secure the native electronic versions with associated metadata of the approximately 55,000 hard copy pages of emails.

Judicial Watch reported the State Department apparently didn’t ask again, as a letter Sept. 16 showed it tried to obtain the records from the FBI, which had obtained electronic copies of the 55,000 Clinton emails.

The FBI is investigating Clinton’s use of her private email server for government business and is trying to retrieve 30,000 emails she deleted after her own staff deemed them personal correspondence. Judicial Watch is also trying to obtain the emails.

Clinton attorney David Kenddall

Clinton attorney David Kendall

Also revealed Thursday, the watchdog group said a May 22 letter from Kennedy to Kendall showed the State Department knew Clinton had classified material in her emails two months before the public learned of it July 23, when the intelligence community’s inspector general informed Congress.

That letter reads in part:

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 Depa1tment 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.

Several weeks later, on June 15, Kendall replied that would not be prudent:

This will also confirm that, pursuant to your request, we have deleted all electronic copies of this document, with the following exception. I have received document preservation requests pertaining to the 55,000 pages of e-mails from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi, the Inspector General of the State Department, and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (DNI). I have responded to each preservation request by confirming to the requestor that I would take reasonable steps to preserve these 55,000 pages of former Secretary Clinton’s e-mails in their present electronic form. I therefore do not believe it would be prudent to delete, as you request, the above-referenced e-mail from the master copies or the PST file that we are preserving.

But Kendall also suggested the information might still be deleted at some point:

Once the document preservation requests referenced above expire, we will proceed to make the requested deletions. This present arrangement would cover the single document recently classified “Secret”. Should there be further reclassifications during the Department’s FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] review of former Secretary Clinton’s e-mails, it also would cover any such additional documents.

Kendall is a longtime Clinton confidant who represented President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

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