If this sounds familiar, it’s because Fox News reported back in January that the FBI did open an investigation into possible pay-for-play shenanigans involving State and the Clinton Foundation sometime in the spring of 2015. That was a spin-off from the probe into Hillary’s emails; evidently some sort of red flag was raised as the FBI was sifting through evidence to warrant a closer look at the “intersection” between State and the CF. Apparently they didn’t find anything — or rather, as CNN phrases it, they found there “wasn’t sufficient evidence to open a case.” What wasn’t known until now, I believe, is that several FBI field offices wanted to open a new probe into those “intersections” this year. Result: Permission denied.
How come? What was it that triggered renewed interest among the FBI in a State/Foundation connection?
Early this year as the investigation into Clinton’s private email server was in full swing, several FBI field offices approached the Justice Department asking to open a case regarding the relationship between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, according to a law enforcement official. At the time, DOJ declined because it had looked into allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation around a year earlier and found there wasn’t sufficient evidence to open a case.
For there to be criminal conflict of interest there would have to be evidence showing a government employee received something of value in exchange, such as a job post-employment or money. There doesn’t appear to be anything so far suggesting that in the newly released, heavily redacted emails from Judicial Watch. But those emails do raise questions about whether the relationship between the State Department and Clinton Foundation was too cozy, particularly after Clinton pledged she would not be involved with the foundation when she became secretary of state, in an effort to prevent an inappropriate relationship.
In a case where there’s a possible conflict of interest that’s not necessarily criminal, the inspector general can look into it and take an administrative remedy if necessary. The State Department OIG has been looking into connections between the State Department and Clinton during her term as secretary of state since earlier this year, but has not said anything about the matter.
Jason Chaffetz quizzed FBI chief James Comey on the Hill last month about whether the feds had looked into influence peddling by the State Department for Hillary’s favorite charity. Comey: “I’m not going to comment on the existence or non-existence of any other investigations.” CNN’s sources were willing to comment, though. Watch the clip below. Pamela Brown says that the FBI had detected “suspicious activity” involving a foreign donor to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was still running State. They met with the DOJ this year about it, and allegedly even some DOJ officials wanted to open a case. If the new FBI probe looked like it would be merely a duplicate of the one they’d already conducted in 2015, why would anyone at the Justice Department have supported opening it? The fact that there was disagreement within the DOJ suggests that the FBI had discovered something new and worth looking at further. Was it related to … Gilbert Chagoury? Rajiv Fernando? Someone else?
Comey will never admit that he gave Clinton a pass on mishandling classified information because he was deathly afraid of his agency wading into the thick of a presidential election, but the politics are what they are. If it’s true that the decision not to charge her for that involved electoral considerations, it’s probably no less true that this one did too. Imagine word leaking in May, with Hillary on the cusp of clinching the Democratic nomination, that the FBI had picked up a new thread of possible corruption and was going to spend the next six months before the election chasing that down. Remember, her numbers took a dive for weeks in July after Comey’s press conference. If voters thought the feds had something new on her, it might have driven perceptions of her honesty and trustworthiness even lower than they are now. What would that have done to the election?
Now we get to wonder what happens if/when the FBI wants to pursue this probe next year, when Hillary Clinton is their boss. Think they’ll be gung ho to take it on?
Nice job by the RNC, by the way, in cutting the video below and circulating it. It’d be even nicer if the nominee made this a key part of his message but he probably has some important stuff about Obama founding ISIS to talk about today. He’ll get to it eventually. Or maybe he won’t. Who knows anymore.