Summer 2015: The FBI begins an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.

An FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation begins around the summer of 2015, after the publication of the controversial book Clinton Cash in May 2015. The author Peter Schweizer will be interviewed multiple times by the FBI. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report: “The probe of the foundation began… to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

In November 2016, CNN will comment on the investigation starting due to Clinton Cash: “It’s not uncommon for FBI probes to begin as a result of or be fueled by published news articles or books.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)

The investigation will continue, but the Justice Department will not give the FBI subpoena powers, keeping the investigation limited and hobbled.

 

September 2, 2015: Congressional committees are interested in the Clinton Foundation’s financial dealings.

The Daily Beast reports that regardless of what becomes of the FBI’s investigations into Clinton’s emails and private server, “more than one [Congressional] committee is interested in Hillary’s emails, far beyond the Benghazi investigation. Congressional investigators are looking into issues beyond classification, to include possible dirty financial deals” that benefitted Bill and Hillary Clinton and/or their Clinton Foundation.

An unnamed senior Congressional staffer says, “This was about a lot more than just some classified emails, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. But we’re happy to let the FBI do the heavy lifting for right now.” The staffer adds, “[N]ow the media won’t let go—and the Bureau definitely won’t. I wouldn’t want to be Hillary right now.” (The Daily Beast, 9/2/2015)

September 3, 2015: A Clinton advisor speculates that Bryan Pagliano wants to plead the Fifth because he “retrieved all our emails” for someone, possibly a Clinton Foundation official.

Maura Pally (Credit: Sylvain Gaboury / Patrick McMullan)

Maura Pally (Credit: Sylvain Gaboury / Patrick McMullan)

Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The subject heading is “Re: This Bryan Pagliano situation.” Most of their email exchange appears to be about other matters, but Tanden makes the comment, “Bryan was the one who retrieved all our emails for Maura to read. Maybe that is why he’s avoiding testifying.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)

This email comes one day after it is first reported that Pagliano is going to plead the Fifth before a Congressional committee that wants to question him about his role managing Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state. (The New York Times, 9/5/2015)

It is not clear who “Maura” is. However, the only Maura in Clinton’s inner circle at the time is Maura Pally. She was deputy counsel on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2013, she began working for the Clinton Foundation. She was the interim CEO of the foundation from January until April 2015, and she has been vice president of programs at the foundation since then. (Politico, 5/30/2013) (Politico, 4/27/2015)

The FBI’s summary of Pagliano’s December 2015 interview will make no mention of anything like this. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

Perhaps that is because the email will not be publicly known until it is released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.

September 27, 2015: Clinton claims she did not have any work-related emails regarding the Clinton Foundation while secretary of state.

Clinton on Meet The Press, September 27, 2015. (Credit: NBC)

Clinton on Meet The Press, September 27, 2015. (Credit: NBC)

Clinton is asked by journalist Chuck Todd on Meet The Press about her decision to delete 31,000 emails because they were allegedly personal in nature: “I’m just curious, would anything having to do with the Clinton Foundation, would that have been personal or work?”

Clinton replies, “Well, it would depend. You know, I did not communicate with the foundation. Other people in the State Department did. In accordance with the rules that had been adopted.”

Then Todd asks, “So any of these deleted emails are not going to be foundation-related at all?”

Clinton responds, “Well, they might be, you know, ‘There’s going to be a meeting,’ or, ‘There’s this.’ But not anything that relates to the work of the State Department. That was handled by, you know, the professionals and others in the State Department.” (NBC News, 9/27/2015)

Autumn 2015: State Department investigators issue a subpoena to the Clinton Foundation.

They are “seeking documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from the federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state,” according to the Washington Post. The subpoena includes a request for records about Huma Abedin, “a longtime Clinton aide who for six months in 2012 was employed simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and a private consulting firm with ties to the Clintons.” Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, is behind the subpoena.

In February 2016, the Post will report that the “full scope and status of the inquiry” is not clear. Inspector general investigative powers are limited. For instance, they can obtain documents, but they cannot compel testimony. (The Washington Post, 2/11/2016)

November 17, 2015: The Clinton Foundation is accused of being a money laundering front to benefit the Clintons.

Ken Silverstein (Credit; Tribute Magazine)

Ken Silverstein (Credit; Tribute Magazine)

Longtime investigative journalist Ken Silverstein writes an expose about the foundation for Harper’s Magazine. He asserts: “If the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies do their jobs, the foundation will be closed and its current and past trustees, who include Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton, will be indicted. That’s because their so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich Clinton family friends.”

As one example, Silverstein notes that the Clinton Foundation has received more than $1 billion to purchase HIV/AIDS drugs for poor people around the world. “However, a unit set up to receive the money…clearly spent far, far less than it took in. In fact, the unit’s accounting practices were so shoddy that its license was revoked by the state of Massachusetts, where it was headquartered.”

An unnamed “money-laundering expert and former intelligence officer based in the Middle East who had access to the foundation’s confidential banking information” claims that all investigators would have to do “is match up Hillary’s travel as secretary of state with Bill’s speaking arrangements. Bill heads out to foreign countries and he gets paid huge amounts of money for a thirty-minute speech and then she heads out for an official visit as a favor. She racked up more miles than any secretary of state [other than Condoleezza Rice] and that’s one of the reasons why. How can they get away with that?” The Clinton Foundation has not commented on the allegations. (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015)

November 19, 2015: The Washington Post publishes an in-depth analysis of the history of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s political fundraising.

A graphic from The Washington Post article "Inside the Clinton Donor Network." (Credit: The Washington Post)

A graphic from The Washington Post article “Inside the Clinton Donor Network.” (Credit: The Washington Post)

It reveals that the Clintons “have built an unrivaled global network of donors while pioneering fundraising techniques that have transformed modern politics,” raising more money than any other politicians in US history. All their fundraising combined over four decades in politics has raised at least $3 billion. $2 billion of that has gone to the Clinton Foundation and another billion has gone to their various political campaigns, especially presidential races. Additionally, since 2000, the Clintons were directly paid more than $150 million from giving speeches. The Clintons have a loyal core of about 2,700 rich political contributors who make up less than one percent of donors who gave more than $200 but have given 21 percent of all the money. The Post comments, “The Clintons’ steady cultivation of financial benefactors—many of whom had interests before the government—has led to charges of conflicts of interest and impropriety, such as Bill Clinton’s end-of-term presidential pardons sought by donors. […] Most of all, the Clintons have excelled at leveraging access to their power and celebrity.” (The Washington Post, 11/19/2015)

January 11, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation could be looking into Clinton Foundation corruption.

Fortune 100 companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation and lobbied the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary. (Credit: Washington Examiner)

Fortune 100 companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation and lobbied the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary. (Credit: opensecrets.org)

Fox News reports, “The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state has expanded to look at whether the possible ‘intersection’ of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business may have violated public corruption laws,” according to three unnamed “intelligence sources.”

One source says, “The agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts, and whether regular processes were followed.”

Clinton denies this, saying, “No, there’s nothing like that that is happening.”

However, Fox News points out, “Experts including a former senior FBI agent said the Bureau does not have to notify the subject of an investigation.” (Fox News, 1/11/2016) 

One month later, the Washington Post will report that the State Department issued a subpoena to the Clinton Foundation in late 2015. (The Washington Post, 2/11/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will confirm the existence of an FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, which has been on-going since 2015.

January 28, 2016: Clinton’s email scandal could be linked to Clinton Foundation corruption.

John Schindler, a former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst and counterintelligence officer, writes, “Why Ms. Clinton and her staff refused to use State Department email for official business is an open and important question. Suspicion inevitably falls on widespread allegations of pay-for-play, a corrupt scheme whereby foreign entities gave cash to the Clinton Global Initiative in exchange for Ms. Clinton’s favors at Foggy Bottom [State Department headquarters]. […] Regardless of whether Ms. Clinton was engaged in political corruption, she unquestionably cast aside security as secretary of state.” The Clinton Global Initiative is one of the Clinton Foundation’s major projects. (The New York Observer, 1/28/2016)

Before February 2016: The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation gains evidence from at least two confidential informants involved in other investigations.

Peter Schweizer (Credit: public domain)

In February 2016, there is a key meeting between FBI and Justice Department officials about the direction of the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation. The investigation began in the summer of 2015, following the publication of the book Clinton Cash by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

At first, the investigation mostly focused on the allegations against the foundation in the book. But the Wall Street Journal will report that by the time of the February 2016 meeting, “Within the FBI, some felt they had moved well beyond the allegations made in the anti-Clinton book. At least two confidential informants from other public-corruption investigations had provided details about the Clinton Foundation to the FBI, these people said.”

The Journal will report, “The FBI had secretly recorded conversations of a suspect in a public-corruption case talking about alleged deals the Clintons made… The agents listening to the recordings couldn’t tell from the conversations if what the suspect was describing was accurate, but it was, they thought, worth checking out.”

However, prosecutors in the Justice Department think “the talk was hearsay and a weak basis to warrant aggressive tactics, like presenting evidence to a grand jury, because the person who was secretly recorded wasn’t inside the Clinton Foundation.” This causes some FBI agents to grow increasingly frustrated with resistance from the Justice Department as well as some leaders in the FBI.

In the February 2016 meeting, the Justice Department will turn down a request from the FBI investigation for grand jury backing. Without it, they can’t gather evidence using subpoenas or search warrants. But the investigation will continue without those legal powers. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

Before February 2016: A suspicious bank transaction draws the attention of the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation.

In November 2016, CNN will report that in the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, “at least one FBI field office also received notification of a possible suspicious bank transaction. The transaction involving a Clinton Foundation donor was flagged in what is known as a suspicious activity report, routine notices sent through the Treasury Department’s financial enforcement arm.”

The timing of this incident is not clear. But the CNN article will mention it prior to describing a pivotal meeting between the FBI and Justice Department in February 2016. (CNN, 11/2/2016)

February 2016: The Justice Department declines to give the FBI Clinton Foundation investigation the legal authority for more investigative powers, but the investigation continues anyway.

In the summer of 2015the FBI begins investigating the Clinton Foundation. By early 2016, four FBI field offices (New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Arkansas) have been pursuing information about the foundation.

In February 2016, FBI officials make a presentation to the Justice Department, apparently trying to get more legal authority, such as subpoena power, which can only come from the Justice Department agreeing to empanel a grand jury. The FBI had gained evidence from at least two informants who came up in other investigations and were critical of the foundation. It also may have learned of a suspicious bank transaction by this time.

Assistant Attorney General, Leslie Caldwell (Credit: Jason Doiy)

Assistant Attorney General, Leslie Caldwell (Credit: Jason Doiy)

The meeting is held in Washington, DC, and is attended by FBI officials, prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity section, and Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division. Robert Capers, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will later play a key role in the conflict between the FBI and Justice Department, but neither he nor prosecutors from his office attend. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

The Wall Street Journal will report on this in October 2016: “By all accounts, the meeting didn’t go well. Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anti-corruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy, and dismissive of the case. ‘That was one of the weirdest meetings I’ve ever been to,’ one participant told others afterward, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The Journal will add, “Anti-corruption prosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meeting they wouldn’t authorize more aggressive investigative techniques, such as subpoenas, formal witness interviews, or grand jury activity. But the FBI officials believed they were well within their authority to pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said.”

As a result, the FBI foundation investigation(s) will continue, but without subpoena power and other common investigative powers. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

Not long after the meeting, the Justice Department will allegedly send a message for all offices to “stand down,” but that won’t stop the investigation either.

After February 2016: Justice Department officials allegedly tell FBI agents investigating the Clinton Foundation to “stand down,” to no effect.

The Wall Street Journal Logo (Credit: public domain)

The Wall Street Journal Logo (Credit: public domain)

In February 2016, there is a key meeting between the FBI and Justice Department to determine the fate and direction of the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation. The FBI wanted more investigative power to intensify their investigation, but the Justice Department refused to give it, claiming their case is weak.

The Wall Street Journal will later report that after this meeting, “Justice Department officials became increasingly frustrated that the [FBI] agents seemed to be disregarding or disobeying their instructions. Following the February meeting, officials at Justice Department headquarters sent a message to all the offices involved to ‘stand down,’ a person familiar with the matter said.”

The Journal will explain that this means to “proceed more overtly” and “act discreetly,” due to the sensitivities of conducting an investigation into the foundation closely linked to Hillary Clinton, who is a major Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election, while the election is in full swing.

However, the investigation will continue as before, though still without the additional powers only the Justice Department can grant. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

February 2016—Early November 2016: It is alleged that a US attorney has increased tensions between the FBI and Justice Department over the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation.

On November 2, 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report, “Starting in February [2016] and continuing today, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and public-corruption prosecutors [at the Justice Department] became increasingly frustrated with each other, as often happens within and between departments. At the center of the tension stood [the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York], Robert Capers, who some at the FBI came to view as exacerbating the problems by telling each side what it wanted to hear…”

Robert Capers (Credit: public domain)

Robert Capers (Credit: public domain)

In February 2016, there is a key meeting in which FBI investigators presented their evidence to Justice Department officials, hoping to be granted additional powers so they could conduct a more vigorous investigation. But the department officials turned them down, claiming that their case was weak.

The stances in the FBI and Justice Department would essentially remain unchanged through late October 2016, when the conflict would erupt into public view due to a series of leaks.

The Journal will report, “At times, people on both sides of the dispute thought Mr. Capers agreed with them. Defenders of Mr. Capers said he was straightforward and always told people he thought the case wasn’t strong. … In subsequent conversations with the Justice Department, Mr. Capers told officials in Washington that the FBI agents on the case ‘won’t let it go…'”

However, Capers is not the only official singled out for blame in public leaks. The Journal will also report that “some have blamed the FBI’s No. 2 official, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” McCabe has been criticized for a conflict of interest that could make him biased in favor of the foundation, but he has refused to recuse himself from the foundation investigation.

In August 2016, the FBI and Justice Department agree to delay major decisions in the investigation until after the presidential election on November 8, 2016. However, multiple leaks to the media show that tensions remain high in the conflict. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

March 9, 2016: Attorney General Lynch shows no interest in the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors.

Senator Thom Tillis (Credit: NC Political News)

Senator Thom Tillis (Credit: NC Political News)

Senator Thom Tillis (R) asks Attorney General Loretta Lynch if the Justice Department is looking into whether Bill and/or Hillary Clinton took funds from foreign governments while Hillary served as secretary of state. Presumably this refers to the Clinton Foundation, which accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments during that time. Lynch replies, “I’m not aware of any other issue along the lines of what you have outlined.” (Politico, 3/9/2016)

March 23, 2016: A Congressperson calls the Clinton Foundation a “sham” charity.

Representative Marsha Blackburn (Credit: MSNBC)

Representative Marsha Blackburn (Credit: MSNBC)

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R) sends a letter to the FTC [Federal Trade Commission], asking it to investigate the Clinton Foundation’s nonprofit status. “The FTC has a history of investigating ‘sham’ charities for false and deceptive statements and should initiate a review of the foundation. […] Consistent with the FTC’s mission and precedent, we request that you review [my] allegations to determine if the Foundation is a ‘sham’ charity.” (The Seaton Post, 3/23/2016)

March 30, 2016: Clinton says the Clinton Foundation will continue if she is elected president.

Clinton on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 30, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Clinton on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 30, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Clinton is interviewed by MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow. Maddow asks her, “I think it is not unreasonable to suspect that people may give donations to the Clinton Foundation hoping that they will favorably influence your opinion toward them, as a presidential candidate, or eventually as president if you’re elected. […] Is there a case to be made, an ethical case to be made that the Clinton Foundation and the [Clinton] Global Initiative should essentially be wound down as a family foundation while you run for president?”

Clinton disagrees. She describes the charity work of the foundation in detail, then says: “So, I think the answer is transparency. And there is no doubt that there will be complete transparency about donations.” (Newsweek, 3/30/2016)

Spring 2016: FBI and Justice Department officials consider opening a specific corruption case regarding the Clinton Foundation, but decide not to do so.

160401ClintonMcAuliffePaulJRichardsAFPGetty

Clinton appears with Governor Terry McAuliffe during a campaign rally on February 29, 2016 in Fairfax, Virginia. (Credit: Paul J. Richards / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

According to CNN in August 2016, some time around the spring of 2016, the FBI receives a notice from a bank of suspicious activity from an unnamed foreigner who had donated to the Clinton Foundation. Three FBI field offices come to an agreement that an investigation regarding this activity should be started. However, during a meeting between the FBI and the Justice Department, it is decided not to pursue an investigation. According to CNN, Justice officials are concerned the request seems more political than substantive, especially given that Hillary Clinton is running for president at the time, and they are against opening an investigation, so it is not pursued.

However, at least one other Clinton Foundation investigation raised at that same meeting does continue – an FBI investigation into Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and his ties to a Clinton Foundation donor. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

April 6, 2016: Best-selling political author Naomi Klein criticizes the Clinton Foundation.

Naomi Klein (Credit: Kourosh Keshir

Naomi Klein (Credit: Kourosh Keshir

In an article for the Nation, she writes, “The mission of the Clinton Foundation can be distilled as follows: There is so much private wealth sloshing around our planet…that every single problem on earth, no matter how large, can be solved by convincing the ultra-rich to do the right things with their loose change. […] The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships—lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention—shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place. In Clinton World, it’s always win-win-win: The governments look effective, the corporations look righteous, and the celebrities look serious. Oh, and another win too: the Clintons grow ever more powerful. At the center of it all is the canonical belief that change comes not by confronting the wealthy and powerful but by partnering with them. Viewed from within the logic of what Thomas Frank recently termed ‘the land of money,’ all of Hillary Clinton’s most controversial actions make sense. Why not take money from fossil-fuel lobbyists? Why not get paid hundreds of thousands for speeches to Goldman Sachs? It’s not a conflict of interest; it’s a mutually beneficial partnership—part of a never-ending merry-go-round of corporate-political give and take.” (The Nation, 4/6/2016)

April 8, 2016: Sanders says he doesn’t criticize the Clinton Foundation or Clinton’s emails to avoid personal attacks.

In a CNN interview, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says that he is constantly asked by supporters why he doesn’t criticize Clinton more over the Clinton Foundation or the FBI’s Clinton investigation. “How often have I talked about Hillary Clinton’s emails? Have you heard me? Not a word. How often have I talked about the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising? Have you heard me say one word about it during the campaign? I am trying to stay away from personal attacks on Hillary.” (Real Clear Politics, 4/8/2016)

April 26, 2016: The Associated Press reports: “Most companies and groups that paid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors…”

Lawrence Noble (Credit: The Associated Press)

Lawrence Noble (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton was paid a total of $22 million for 94 speeches by 82 different firms and organizations in the time between the end of her secretary of state tenure in February 2013 and the official start of her 2016 presidential campaign in April 2015. At least 60 firms and organizations that paid for her speeches lobbied the Obama administration at some point, at least 30 profited from government contracts, and at least 22 had business before the State Department while Clinton was secretary of state.

Lawrence Noble, of the election watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, says, “The problem is whether all these interests who paid her to appear before them will expect to have special access when they have an issue before the government.”

Together, trade association lobbying groups and the financial sector paid a total of $11 million of her speeches, about half of the total during that two-year time period. (The Associated Press, 8/21/2016)

April 27, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says if Clinton faces Donald Trump in the general election, Trump will attack her about the Clinton Foundation and her email scandal.

“The Republican party will have dozens of opposition researchers. They don’t need my speeches to talk about Hillary Clinton. They will go after Hillary Clinton in ways that I have never, ever gone after Hillary Clinton. Things like the Clinton Foundation or things like the e-mail situation. I don’t talk about that. I have never talked about it one word on this campaign. I suspect very much that Donald Trump and the Republican party will go after her in many, many ways that we have not.” (Real Clear Politics, 4/27/2016)

May 13, 2016: Trump doubts that the Clinton Foundation is a real charity.

New York Post front page on May 13, 2016, with photos of Bill Clinton and Julie Tauber McMahon. (Credit: New York Post)

New York Post front page on May 13, 2016, with photos of Bill Clinton and Julie Tauber McMahon. (Credit: New York Post)

When asked about the Clinton Foundation, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says, “I assume you put the word charity in quotes.” His comment comes one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the foundation-connected Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) may have benefitted a for-profit company partially owned by Julie Tauber McMahon.

Furthermore, there have been tabloid accusations that Bill Clinton and McMahon had a long-time romance despite his marriage to Hillary Clinton. Trump says of the story, “Well, it is a bombshell, there’s no doubt about it.” He also says people have been whispering about Bill Clinton’s romantic involvement with McMahon “for years,” but “I have no idea what went on.”

Real Clear Politics reporter Rebecca Berg comments, “It plays right into this narrative that [Trump] is trying to build that Hillary Clinton is crooked, that she’s corrupt, and Donald Trump we saw in the primary used this specter of public corruption very effectively.” (CNN, 5/13/2016) (The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2016(The Daily Mail, 7/25/2014) (The New York Post, 5/13/2016)

May 22, 2016: Ethics experts suggest the Clintons should cut their ties with the Clinton Foundation if Hillary is elected president.

Stephen Gillers (Credit: New York University)

Stephen Gillers (Credit: New York University)

The New York Times reports that Bill and Hillary Clinton have indicated their relationship with the Clinton Foundation would remain basically unchanged if Hillary becomes the next president. However: “Ethics experts reject that answer. They say there wouldn’t be any way to avoid the appearance of conflicts if she wins the presidency.”

Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert at New York University School of Law, says, “If Bill seeks to raise large sums of money from donors who also have an interest in US policy, the public will rightly question whether the grants affected United States foreign policy.” He adds that ethics rules are “not merely to prevent bad behavior but to foster public trust in the integrity of government choices.”

Joel Fleishman, who ran a foundation and wrote a book on philanthropy, says the Clintons should “sever the relationship [with the foundation] completely and put it in the hands of independent trustees.” They also should pick a leader of “impeccable integrity and let it go its own way in raising money.” (The New York Times, 5/22/2016)

May 23, 2016: The FBI is investigating the governor of Virginia, including his time as a board member of the CGI.

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

CNN reports, “Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, US officials briefed on the probe say. […] [I]nvestigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative [CGI],” a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation. There is no allegation that the foundation did anything wrong.

The investigation is particularly focused on a $120,000 donation by Wang Wenliang through his US businesses to McAuliffe’s campaign for governor. Wang is a Chinese citizen and used to be a delegate to China’s National People’s Congress. However, he holds permanent resident status in the US, and is therefore eligible to donate to political campaigns, so it’s not clear what the alleged wrongdoing is. Wang has also given $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, as well as other major donations to other US-based charities. (CNN, 5/23/2016)

June 5, 2016: Sanders criticizes the Clinton Foundation.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is asked in an interview about the Clinton Foundation. He says, “If you ask me about the Clinton Foundation, do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collects many millions of dollars from foreign governments, many governments which are dictatorships? Yeah I do.” He points out the human rights violations of governments that have heavily donated to the foundation, such as Saudi Arabia. When asked if the foundation’s activities represent a potential conflict of interest, Sanders replies, “Yes, I do.” (Real Clear Politics, 6/5/2016)

Sanders had previously avoided criticizing the foundation. (Real Clear Politics, 4/8/2016)

June 8, 2016: Clinton claims the Clinton Foundation only made “one or two” disclosure mistakes.

Clinton interviewed by Anderson Cooper on June 8, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton interviewed by Anderson Cooper on June 8, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

CNN journalist Anderson Cooper asks Clinton, “[Republican presidential candidate Donald] Trump has said he is clearly going to focus on the Clinton Foundation. Last night he said the Russians, Saudis, Chinese all gave money to the foundation and got favorable treatment in return. The foundation has raised huge sums of money for worthy causes; it’s always not been transparent though. Tens of millions of dollars come from a Canadian partnership so that the donors could remain secret, [and] there was a large donation from Algeria not submitted to State Department for approval. If you are president, will your husband divest himself of any association with the foundation?”

Clinton replies, “We will cross that bridge if and when we come to it. Let me just try to set the record straight. We had absolutely overwhelming disclosure. Were there one or two instances that slipped through the cracks? Yes. But was the overwhelming amount of anything that anybody gave the foundation disclosed? Absolutely.”

When Cooper presses if Bill Clinton would step down from the foundation if Hillary is elected president, Hillary replies, “Again, I’m not going to consider anything until we see what the circumstances are.” (Real Clear Politics, 6/8/2016)

June 21, 2016: The Clinton Foundation’s computer network was recently successfully hacked by alleged Russian hackers.

Bloomberg News reports this is according to three unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” Clinton Foundation officials say they haven’t been notified of the attack and refuse to say more. The breach was discovered as recently as one week earlier.

The attack appears to be part of a larger sweep of attacks that has targeted at least 4,000 email accounts of people connected to US politics since about October 2015. Many of the targets appear to be linked to Clinton.

Bloomberg News comments, “The thefts set the stage for what could be a Washington remake of the public shaming that shook Sony in 2014, when thousands of inflammatory internal emails filled with gossip about world leaders and Hollywood stars were made public.”

Someone going by the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” has been releasing documents from a hack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] but it is unknown if this person is linked to the foundation attack. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

June 23, 2016: The State Department is accused of dragging out the release of emails related to the Clinton Foundation.

Oscar Flores (Credit: public domain)

Oscar Flores (Credit: public domain)

In a court filing, the conservative watchdog group Citizens United asks a judge to order the State Department to speed up the release of emails between the department and four Clinton Foundation officials, namely: Chelsea Clinton (the daughter of Bill and Hillary), Amitabh Desai (the foundation’s director of foreign policy), and Justin Cooper and Oscar Flores, two Bill Clinton aides who also have worked for the foundation.

A judge has ordered the department to release emails in monthly batches, due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Citizens United. But the department has only released 17 emails in its first two monthly batches, despite saying it has found nearly 4,000 emails that match the request.

Citizens United wants the emails released before the November 2016 general election, but they say that at the current pace, it would take 38 years for the department to release them all. (The Free Beacon, 6/23/2016)

June 24, 2016: Clinton’s official calendar omits dozens of meetings with donors and other outside interests.

A sample of a meeting with donors and loyalists that were omitted from Clinton’s official calendar. (Credit: The Associated Press)

In August 2013, the Associated Press (AP) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Clinton’s calendar and schedules from the State Department. After years of delays and denials, AP recently got about one-third of Clinton’s planning schedules from when she was secretary of state, and will be getting more.

A comparison of the planning schedules with Clinton’s 1,500-page official calendar shows “at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded,” or for which the names of those she met were omitted. At least 114 outsiders attended these meetings. Only seven meetings were replaced on the calendar by other events, while more than sixty meetings were either omitted entirely or described briefly as “private meetings” without mention of who attended. The missing meetings involve “private dinners and meetings with political donors, policy sessions with groups of corporate leaders, and ‘drop-bys’ with old Clinton campaign hands and advisers.”

For instance, meetings with controversial Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal are not mentioned, nor are meetings with billionaire Haim Saban, a major donor to Clinton’s political campaigns who also has given at least $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. A Clinton spokesperson says this merely shows that some records are more detailed than others. But AP points out that on the same days the names of donors Clinton meets with are omitted, the names of all the participants in other meetings are given.

Five former State Department logistics officials say that some previous secretaries of state omitted some details from their official calendars, but only for special occasions, such as medical appointments, and not meetings with donors or political interests. It is not known who edited Clinton’s official calendar. It also does not appear any federal laws were broken, although there are department rules against altering or deleting information.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), comments: “It’s clear that any outside influence needs to be clearly identified in some way to at least guarantee transparency. That didn’t happen. These discrepancies are striking because of her possible interest at the time in running for the presidency.” (The Associated Press, 6/24/2016)

June 28, 2016: A federal judge accuses the State Department of running out the clock on a FOIA lawsuit to politically protect Clinton.

US District Judge Richard Leon (Credit: public domain)

US District Judge Richard Leon (Credit: public domain)

In 2010, military contractor BAE Systems pled guilty to violating US arms export control laws and regulations, and paid a $400 million fine to the US government. Then in 2011, it settled a civil suit on the same issue, paying an additional $69 million fine, but maintaining the right to receive US government contracts and export licenses. In August 2013, the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to learn more about what many call a “sweetheart deal,” and Clinton’s possible role in it as secretary of state. In March 2015, that turned into a FOIA lawsuit after the State Department only turned over three documents out of 13,000 pages responsive to the request.

On June 28, 2016, US District Court Judge Richard Leon says that the department’s recent assertion that it will take until mid-October 2016 to hand over the document is a non-starter due to the proximity to the November 8, 2016 general election. He says: “This case has been dragging on for a long time […] We’re now reaching a point of mounting frustration that this is a project where State is running out the clock. There’s no way I’m ever going to grant you an extension to mid-October because that would effectively run out the clock.” Leon wants to not only get the documents released before the election, but also to have them released by early September 2016 so there is time to litigate whether the department’s redactions are legally justified. He openly threatens penalties on the State Department and other departments if they don’t speed up working together to release the documents. (Politico, 6/28/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: Huma Abedin admits she worked on “Clinton family matters” while she was working at the State Department.

During the deposition of Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin by Judicial Watch, she is asked if she used her private email account hosted on Clinton’s clintonemail.com private server for any State Department work.

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Huma Abedin (Credit: David McGlynn)

Abedin responds, “My practice was to use my state.gov email. I did the vast majority of my work on state.gov, at my computer and on my BlackBerry when we traveled. And I used Clinton email for just about everything else. I used that for the Clinton family matters and, frankly, I used it for my own personal e-mail, as well.”

She is pressed, “But you also used it at times for state-related matters?”

She replies, “Yes. There were occasions when I did do that, correct.”

She is then asked, “And were there occasions when you used that with Secretary Clinton, where both of you used only the clintonemail.com accounts?”

Abedin replies, “There were occasions when that occurred, yes.” (Judicial Watch, 6/29/2016)

Unfortunately, Abedin is not asked what she means by working on “Clinton family matters,” and if that included Clinton Foundation matters.

June 29, 2016: The State Department wants to delay the release of emails between Clinton’s former aides and the Clinton Foundation until well after the 2016 presidential election.

Melanne Verveer (left) (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs,Michael Fuchs (right) (Credit: Center for American Progress)

Former Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer (left) (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Michael Fuchs (right) (Credit: Center for American Progress)

Conservative group Citizens United has a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking emails that former State Department officials Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs exchanged with employees of the Clinton Foundation or Teneo Consulting, a company closely tied to the Clintons. The court has ordered the emails to be released by July 21, 2016.

However, Justice Department lawyers acting on behalf of the State Department ask US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras for an extension until October 2018 – more than two years. The State Department says they thought in March 2016 that there were only 6,000 pages of emails to process. But an error was discovered and they now believe there are more than 14,000 pages. The department also complains they are falling behind responding to FOIA requests and lawsuits in general.

Citizens United president David Bossie says, “This is totally unacceptable; the State Department is using taxpayer dollars to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton. The American people have a right to see these emails before the [November 2016 presidential] election. […] The conflicts of interest that were made possible by the activities of Hillary Clinton’s State Department in tandem with the Clinton Foundation are of significant importance to the public and the law enforcement community.” (Politico, 6/29/2016)

 

November 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation is still facing an impasse between FBI investigators and top officials.

Since October 30, 2016, there have been a number of news reports that the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation exists, but also that it has been hobbled by disagreements between FBI agents, who believe the evidence against the foundation is strong, and high-ranking FBI officials and Justice Department officials who believe the evidence is weak. Major decisions have been postponed until after the November 8, 2016 US presidential election.

ABC News reports that “Investigators and higher-ups have continued to discuss the matter, but there has been no change in posture, sources said. Authorities still believe there is no evidence of wrongdoing, and they do not believe there is a sufficient reason to pursue charges…” (ABC News, 11/3/2016)