Hillary Clinton's private emails indicate the former secretary of state and her closest aides may have played a role in selecting inspectors general that oversaw work from their agency.
In a 2010 exchange between Clinton and Cheryl Mills, then her chief of staff, the two discussed an unnamed "IG candidate" and whether he would be a good fit for the agency.
Margaret Carpenter, a former official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, wrote to key Clinton aides in March 2010 to note that "Cheryl approved nominating" an individual, whose name was redacted, to an inspector general position and asked how to proceed in an email made public Friday evening that was first flagged by the Wall Street Journal.
"Let me know if you DON'T want to proceed," Mills told Clinton.
It is unclear if the appointment was for the watchdog of the State Department or of USAID, which falls under the umbrella of State.
But both agencies' inspector general offices were vacant during most or all of Clinton's tenure, allowing at least the appearance of lax oversight.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday he had not yet seen the Clinton email in question and avoided commenting on whether such interference in the inspector general selection process was typical of agency leaders.
"I guess I can't really speak to how that process usually works," Earnest said. "I think the first thing I'd point out is, it sounds like based on just what you've told me that the individual she weighed in on in support of isn't the person that was selected. Even if it had been, the person would only have been selected by the administration and appointed by the president."
A State Department official told the Washington Examiner Tuesday that agency heads typically do have a voice in selecting their inspector general.
"It's standard for an agency head to work with senior staff to make a recommendation on nominees, including for the position of Inspector General," the official said.
Harold Geisel served as acting inspector general for the State Department from 2008 until Sept. 2013, when the present inspector general, Steve Linick, took the position.
During his time as the agency's temporary watchdog, Geisel was accused by whistleblowers of bowing to pressure from Clinton's staff and removing passages of reports that might have embarrassed the State Department. That included the alleged suppression of an investigation into an ambassador accused of pedophelia.
Critics have questioned why the State Department's watchdog office was left empty for what was at the time the longest inspector general vacancy in the history of any federal agency.
USAID's inspector general office was also vacant from 2011 to 2014. The acting inspector general, Michael Carroll, resigned after whistleblowers accused him of whitewashing reports that were critical of the agency as he awaited Senate confirmation to the permanent position.
Both Carroll and Geisel faced similar accusations when they oversaw agencies under Clinton's leadership.
Inspectors general are intended to serve as objective watchdogs for the agencies they oversee. Their offices are supposed to operate as independently as possible from federal departments to preserve the integrity of their investigations and audits.
Mills was also involved in recommending a candidate to fill the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan position, according to emails obtained by Citizens United through the Freedom of Information Act.
Asked in 2011 if the State Department had a recommendation for the top job at SIGAR, Mills suggested Geisel.
SIGAR oversees all aspects of the Afghanistan reconstruction effort, whether those are spearheaded by the Pentagon, the State Department or one of the handful of other federal agencies that poured money into the country since the watchdog office was created in 2008.
"Our candidate has not changed in 2.5 years, primarily b/c we did not want to be accused of picking a candidate who was biased to us so we have always supported leaving in place the IG selected by the prior administration," Mills wrote of Geisel in the 2011 exchange.