June 19–20, 2012: Cheryl Mills conducts interviews to find the Clinton Foundation’s next leader while working as Clinton’s chief of staff, raising a possible conflict of interest.

120619CherylMillsFoundationReuters

Cheryl D. Mills speaks during a commitment workshop titled “Haiti: Lessons for the Future” at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting on September 24, 2012. The CGI logo is in the background. (Credit: Reuters)

On June 19, 2012, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills travels from Washington, DC, to New York City. The next day, she interviews two high-level business executives in order to help the Clinton Foundation find a new leader.

When Clinton became secretary of state, she and the Clinton Foundation agreed to abide by rules specially created in an agreement with the Obama administration not to “create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.”

When news of this trip is made public in August 2016, Clinton’s campaign will claim that any work Mills did for the Clinton Foundation, such as this trip, was strictly voluntary.

The two executives interviewed by Mills had worked at Pfizer and WalMart, companies that CNN points out “have been huge donors to Foundation, and have worked with the Clinton Global Initiative.” However, neither of them get the job. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

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)

August 11, 2016: According the Daily Caller, the FBI is pursuing multiple investigations regarding possible corruption related to the Clinton Foundation.

Additionally, various US Attorney offices in different states are giving assistance. This is according to an unnamed “former official who has direct knowledge” of the investigations. The main investigation is said to be based in New York, which is where the Clinton Foundation is headquartered.

160811PreetBhararaRUmarAbbasiWireImage

Preet Bharara, US attorney for the Southern District of New York. (Credit: R. Umar Abbasi / Wire Image)

This is being led by Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. The source says that Bharara and his office “would be seen by [FBI] agents as a positive development, as prosecutors there are generally thought to be more aggressive than the career lawyers within the [Justice Department].” The office has specialized in large-scale, sophisticated financial frauds. By contrast, the FBI investigation of Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state was conducted by FBI headquarters without the involvement of state US Attorneys. (The Daily Caller, 8/11/2016)

It is known that one FBI investigation regarding the Clinton Foundation relates to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and his ties to a Clinton Foundation donor. The Daily Caller report comes hours after an CNN report talking about a failed attempt to start a different Clinton Foundation-related investigation, and makes clear that is not what they are referring to. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

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

August 11, 2016: The State Department fails to answer questions about a possible conflict of interest involving the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills in June 2012.

In January 2016, Senator Charles Grassley (R), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking about Cheryl Mills’ role in picking the next head of the Clinton Foundation by interviewing two candidates for that position on June 20, 2012. At the time, Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff in the State Department, and Clinton had vowed not to allow any action that even created the appearance of a conflict of interest between Clinton’s management of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

However, on August 11, 2016, CNN reports that Grassley still has received no official reply from the State Department.

160811ScottAmeyPOGO

Scott Amey (Credit: public domain)

Scott Amey, an attorney for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), says, “Congress has a rightful right to ask for any information that it wants to from the executive branch of government to keep track of them. And the government should be turning that information over. When you have a breakdown in that system, we have a breakdown in our democracy.”

CNN also asks the State Department if Mills had or needed permission from the department for the trip, or if anyone from the department was even aware of what she was doing. A department spokesperson doesn’t directly answer the question, except to say that Mills had the right to do what she wanted on her own time if it was strictly voluntary in nature. (CNN, 8/11/2016)