In a town infamous for throwing bureaucrats under the bus, Patrick Kennedy’s survival is the stuff of legend.
The 67-year-old State Department official is largely unknown to the general public, but for Republicans in Congress, he is the dark force behind two of the biggest controversies of Hillary Clinton’s career.
In his role as under secretary for management and resources, Kennedy was the senior official overseeing both diplomatic security during the 2012 attacks in Benghazi and the records and IT departments during “emailgate” — the four-year period when Clinton used a private email server for official business.
“Pat Kennedy is the most powerful guy you’ve never heard of,” said a former diplomat, who like many others spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the influential government boss.
The State Department insists that the failures leading up to both incidents were the fault of more junior employees, not Kennedy. But his proximity to wrongdoing has made him a major target of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which grilled him for 13 hours as a part of its two-year, $7 million investigation. He also faced blistering attacks from lawmakers during seven other House and Senate investigations into Benghazi, underwent a deposition at the Justice Department by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch in June, and cooperated with a year-long FBI investigation into Clinton’s complex private email server that ended last month.
A less savvy bureaucrat might’ve fallen victim to those many minefields, but individuals close to Kennedy say he’s primed to stay on the job for several more years, leading many to marvel at his knack for self preservation.