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It is not clear when, or how, Mrs. Fedenisn became connected with Mr. Mathias and Cary Schulman, another Dallas-based lawyer working with Mr. Mathias in representing the former inspector general investigator.

During an interview with The Times this week, Mr. Mathias declined to speak specifically about the matter beyond saying that “a connection came about” with Mrs. Fedenisn through Richard Higbie, another State Department employee whom the lawyers are representing in a separate case. Mr. Higbie, an agent of the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is involved in an “employment discrimination case in Texas” and, like Mrs. Fedenisn, has “claimed his whistle-blower status,” Mr. Mathias said.

He added that once a connection was made with Mrs. Fedenisn, she was not interested in speaking to CBS News or any other media outlet about the inspector general documents in her possession.

She apparently changed her mind May 22 when two agents from the inspector general’s office suddenly showed up at her home in the District and sought to retrieve the documents.

Mr. Mathias said Mrs. Fedenisn was not home when the agents arrived, but her children were and they called her upon becoming disturbed by two suspicious-looking agents in front of the house.

At that point, Mrs. Fedenisn contacted the lawyers, who in turn contacted CBS News, which quickly sent a camera crew to the house, Mr. Mathias said. CBS aired footage from the incident as part of its report on the internal documents in Mrs. Fedenisn’s possession.

Political undertones

Details of how the documents became public have become a subject of heated speculation in the back hallways of the State Department, particularly in light of political undertones.

Some commentators have argued that Republicans are eager to pounce on the scandal as part of a wider effort to “smear” Mrs. Clinton if she intends to run for president in 2016.

Such conjecture has prompted some to question privately why the documents were given to the office of Mr. Cruz, a freshman senator who also has been mentioned as a potential candidate in 2016. Mr. Mathias said the reason was because he and Mr. Schulman are based in Dallas and Mr. Cruz is the lawmaker representing Texas in the Senate.

Mr. Mathias said the documents also were given to Mr. Issa’s office because he heads the primary House panel that conducts investigations of executive branch issues.

Mr. Cruz has not commented on the documents or the allegations cited in them. His office did not immediately respond Thursday to a query for information about when the senator received the documents and whether it was Mrs. Fedenisn or her attorneys who delivered them.