March 7, 2015—Mid-July 2016: Donations to a state senate election lead to potential conflicts of interests in three FBI investigations for a high-ranking FBI official.

The Clintons stand behind Terry McAuliffe during his inauguration as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 72nd governor. (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is widely considered the best friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and was co-chair of one of Bill’s presidential campaigns and the chair of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign. In March 2016, McAuliffe says, “We’re best friends, I’ve been family friends with the Clinton’s for thirty years. It’s a great relationship, we vacationed together for years, we’re just very personal friends…” (The Valley’s Music Place, 3/31/2016)

On March 7, 2015, McAuliffe and other state Democratic Party leaders meet with Dr. Jill McCabe and persuade her to run for a state senator seat in Virginia. Dr. McCabe is a hospital physician who has never run for political office before. This has potentially larger political implications, because her husband is Andrew McCabe, an FBI official who runs the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office at the time.

Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)

Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)

FBI officials will later claim that after the March 7, 2015 meeting, Andrew McCabe seeks ethics advice from the FBI and follows it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia, and also avoiding any of his wife’s campaign activities or events.

Five days before Jill McCabe is asked to run, on March 2, 2015, the New York Times publicly reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address, and her use of a private email server is revealed two days later, starting a major and prolonged political controversy. Jill McCabe announces her candidacy on March 12, 2015.

On July 10, 2015, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation formally begins, although it may have informally begun earlier.

Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)

Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)

Andrew McCabe’s Washington, DC, field office provides personnel and resources to the investigation. At the end of July 2015, he is promoted to assistant deputy FBI director, the number three position in the FBI.

During the 2015 election season, McAuliffe’s political action committee (PAC) donates $467,500 to Jill McCabe’s campaign. Furthermore, the Virginia Democratic Party, ”over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control,” according to the Wall Street Journal, donates an additional $207,788 to her campaign. “That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him.”

This represents more than a third of all the campaign funds McCabe raises in the election. She is the third-largest recipient of funds from McAuliffe’s PAC that year.

Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)

Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)

On November 3, 2015, Jill McCabe loses the election to incumbent Republican Dick Black. Once the campaign is over, “[Andrew] McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended,” according to the Journal.

In February 2016, Andrew McCabe is promoted to deputy FBI director, the second highest position in the FBI. In this role, he is part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions are made by FBI Director James Comey.

However, that is not the only potential conflict of interest. By February 2016, four FBI field offices are conducting investigations of the Clinton Foundation. McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he resigned when he became the governor of Virginia in 2013. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)

Also, at some point in 2015, if not earlier, the FBI begins conducting an investigation of McAuliffe. When the existence of this investigation is publicly leaked in May 2016, media reports suggest it may involve McAuliffe’s financial relationship with a Chinese businessperson who has donated millions to the foundation. It is also reported that investigators have looked at McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation.  (CNN, 5/24/2016)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)

In the spring of 2016, Andrew McCabe agrees to recuse himself from the McAuliffe investigation, due to McAuliffe’s donations to Jill McCabe’s election campaign. However, he doesn’t recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation or the Clinton email investigation, despite McAuliffe’s close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)

In mid-July 2016, the FBI seeks to reorganize the Clinton Foundation investigation. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office should take the lead, while the Washington office that he formerly headed should take the lead with the McAuliffe investigation. The Journal will later report, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined.” However, the decision is implemented.

McCabe also is involved in an effort to shut down the foundation investigation in August 2016, but his role is unclear.

In October 2016, McCabe’s potential conflicts of interest will be revealed by two Wall Street Journal articles. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016) In early November 2016, the Journal will report that “some [in the FBI] have blamed [McCabe], claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the [Clinton Foundation] case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

Around that time, James Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI’s New York office, will say of McCabe, “The guy has no common sense. He should be demoted and taken out of the chain of command.” (The American Spectator, 11/1/2016)

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)

Mid-July 2016: The FBI reorganizes its Clinton Foundation investigation, despite the involvement of an FBI official with a potential conflict of interest.

On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend indicting anyone targeted in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. That effectively closed the investigation. The FBI still has an ongoing investigation in the Clinton Foundation, with four FBI field offices taking part.

Andrew McCabe (Credit: public domain)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: public domain)

About one week after Comey’s announcement, the FBI seeks to refocus the Clinton Foundation investigation. Andrew McCabe is the associate deputy FBI director at the time, the number three position in the FBI, but by the end of the month he is promoted to deputy FBI director, the number two position. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office will take the lead, with assistance from the Little Rock, Arkansas office.

The Washington field office will instead focus on an investigation involving Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D). McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he became governor in 2013, and some media reports indicate the investigation concerns a Chinese businessperson who donated millions of dollars to the foundation. McCabe recused himself from the McAuliffe investigation because political organizations linked to McAuliffe donated over $700,000 to the state senate election campaign of McCabe’s wife in 2015. However, McCabe does not recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation.

According to the Journal, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined. Others, particularly Justice Department anti-corruption prosecutors, felt that both probes were weak, based largely on publicly available information, and had found little that would merit expanded investigative authority.”

The Justice Department previously declined to empanel a grand jury for the foundation investigation, and still doesn’t give it the additional investigative powers that would come with grand jury backing. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

CNN will add that as part of the reorganization, agents in the Los Angeles, Little Rock, and Washington, DC. field offices, are told to turn over their files to the FBI New York office. “Agents were told to continue their work. But the order to the other field offices angered agents there.”

Additionally, during this meeting or in subsequent meetings over the next month, the New York office is told not to take any major steps in the investigation until after the US presidential election on November 8, 2016. CNN will report that “some agents [in New York] chafed at the decision that they had to sit and wait until after the election.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)

August 12, 2016: A Justice Department official allegedly attempts to shut down the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, but it continues.

Since 2015 or earlier, multiple FBI field offices have been involved in an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. However, in February 2016, the FBI appealed to the Justice Department for additional investigative powers, such as having a grand jury empaneled to gain subpoena power, but the department said no. The investigation continued anyway, without the additional powers the department can give.

Andrew McCabe, left, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, listen during a news conference, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press)

Andrew McCabe, left, and Loretta Lynch, listen during a news conference, July 20, 2016. (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report that on August 12, 2016, an unnamed senior Justice Department official calls Andrew McCabe (who was promoted to deputy FBI director one month earlier) to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents are still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation investigation during the election season, with Hillary Clinton being one of the major candidates.

McCabe allegedly replies that FBI agents still have the authority to pursue the issue as long as they don’t use methods requiring Justice Department approvals.

The Journal will report, “The Justice Department official was ‘very pissed off,’ according to one person close to Mr. McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant. Others said the Justice Department was simply trying to make sure FBI agents were following longstanding policy not to make overt investigative moves that could be seen as trying to influence an election. Those rules discourage investigators from making any such moves before a primary or general election, and, at a minimum, checking with anti-corruption prosecutors before doing so.”

McCabe allegedly asks the department official, “Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?”

After a pause, the official allegedly replies, “Of course not.”

The Journal will further report, “For Mr. McCabe’s defenders, the exchange showed how he was stuck between an FBI office eager to pour more resources into a case and Justice Department prosecutors who didn’t think much of the case, one person said. Those people said that following the call, Mr. McCabe reiterated past instructions to FBI agents that they were to keep pursuing the work within the authority they had.”

But according to “others further down the FBI chain of command,” FBI agents “were given a much starker instruction on the case: ‘Stand down.’ When agents questioned why they weren’t allowed to take more aggressive steps, they said they were told the order had come from the deputy director—Mr. McCabe. Others familiar with the matter deny Mr. McCabe or any other senior FBI official gave such a stand-down instruction.”

According to the Journal, some agents within the FBI believe that McCabe and other FBI leaders weren’t defending the investigation strongly enough, while others believe that McCabe’s behavior was correct. Either way, the investigation continues, but still without that subpoena power that can only come from Justice Department support. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

McCabe has a conflict of interest with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who in turn is being investigated by the FBI for activities that could involve the Clinton Foundation.

September 2016: The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation tries but fails to get access to possibly relevant emails found in the Clinton email investigation.

Although the FBI’s Clinton email investigation was closed in July 2016, the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation continues, though it never has had grand jury backing and thus no subpoena power.

 Clinton closes the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in September, 2014. (Credit: Mark Lennihan / The Associated Press)

Clinton speaks at the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in September, 2014. (Credit: Mark Lennihan / The Associated Press)

The email investigation uncovered many thousands of emails on non-government computers belonging to Clinton and some of her aides, and many of these same people had obvious roles with the Clinton Foundation. As a result, sometime in September 2016, Clinton Foundation investigators ask to have access to the emails found in the Clinton email investigation.

But that request is rejected by prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Those emails were given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information. Some FBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked for permission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter.”

However, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe allegedly tells them no and says they can’t “go prosecutor shopping.”

In early October 2016, a different FBI investigation will find emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin on a previously unknown computer, leading to a different legal issue about sharing information between various FBI investigations.

It appears the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation still has not been given access to the possibly relevant emails found by the Clinton email investigation. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

October 3, 2016—October 28, 2016: FBI agents investigating a sex scandal find evidence that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation, and superiors grant permission to reopen that investigation.

One of many text messages between Weiner and the underage girl. (Credit: Daily Mail)

One of many text messages between Weiner and the underage girl. (Credit: Daily Mail)

On October 3, 2016, FBI agents investigating the possible sending of sexually charged messages to a teenage minor by former Representative Anthony Weiner, seize Weiner’s computer laptop. Agents soon discover that the laptop contains 650,000 emails, and many of them belong to Huma Abedin, who is a top Clinton aide as well as Weiner’s wife (although they recently separated).

The FBI agents notify Andrew McCabe, the second highest ranking FBI official, about this. They suggest some emails could be previously unknown to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, which was closed in July 2016. In an initial review, metadata shows that thousands of emails were sent to or from the private email server that formerly hosted private email accounts of Clinton and Abedin. However, the FBI has searched the laptop looking for child pornography, and the search warrant used doesn’t give them the authority to look for evidence related to the Clinton email investigation.

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Jennifer Hill / FBI

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Jennifer Hill / FBI

Senior FBI officials allow the Weiner investigators to proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and then report back.

FBI Director James Comey is first told about the emails around the middle of October 2016.

Around October 25, 2016, senior Justice Department and FBI officials are given an update on the Weiner laptop.

McCabe tells agents working on the Weiner investigation to talk to agents who worked on the Clinton email investigation and decide whether the laptop’s contents could be relevant to their work. The Clinton email investigation agents agree the emails could be potentially relevant. However, no warrant has yet been pursued to give them legal permission to look at the emails.

On October 27, 2016, Comey is given an updated briefing on the situation, and he decides to inform Congress that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. He does so one day later, even though Justice Department officials strongly object to making such an announcement only 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. The necessary warrant is obtained two days later. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

October 30, 2016: The Wall Street Journal confirms there is an on-going FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, but the Justice Department hasn’t given it investigative powers.

Little Rock FBI Field Office (Credit: public domain)

Little Rock FBI Field Office (Credit: public domain)

In January 2016, Fox News reported that the FBI had an on-going investigation into the Clinton Foundation, but this generally wasn’t reported or discussed in other media outlets. In August 2016, the Daily Caller reported on the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, but this also wasn’t generally reported otherwise. For instance, a CNN story that same month asserted the investigation didn’t exist.

On this day, the Wall Street Journal confirms there is an on-going FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, and provides many new details about it. The investigation began some time before October 2015. By February 2016, four FBI field offices were collecting information about the foundation to see if there is evidence of financial crimes or influence-peddling:

  • The Los Angeles office developed an interest in the Clinton Foundation from an unrelated public-corruption case and has issued some subpoenas for bank records related to the foundation.
  • The Washington, DC, office is investigating financial relationships involving Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), who has been a Clinton Foundation board member.
  • The New York office has done the most work regarding the foundation.
  • The Little Rock, Arkansas, office has had some role, probably due to the Clintons’ ties in Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was governor.
The Jacob K. Javits Federal Building is home to the FBI field agents in New York, New York. (Credit: public domain)

FBI Field Office in New York, New York. (Credit: public domain)

In mid-July 2016, the New York office took charge of the investigation, with the Little Rock office providing assistance.

However, the Journal also reports that senior Justice Department officials have “repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in [the FBI’s foundation investigation], sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case.”

Additionally, “Some investigators grew frustrated, viewing FBI leadership as uninterested in probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreed sharply, defending FBI bosses and saying [FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe in particular was caught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control between the Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundation case.”

In February 2016, FBI agents presented their evidence on the foundation to senior Justice Department officials. But those officials decided not to give the investigation the legal backing to convene a grand jury, which means investigators don’t have subpoena or search warrants power. However, the investigators have continued without that power, apparently collecting much of their evidence from publicly available information.

This situation has apparently continued ever since, with the investigation continuing but hobbled due to the lack of the legal powers given by a grand jury. According to the Journal paraphrasing an unnamed official, “the [New York] FBI office [is] eager to pour more resources into [the] case and Justice Department prosecutors [don’t] think much of the case…” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

FBI Miami Field Office (Credit: public domain)

FBI Miami Field Office (Credit: public domain)

Also on October 30, 2016, the Daily Caller will allege there is a fifth FBI field office – the Miami, Florida office – involved in the investigation.

Additionally, later on the same day, the Clinton Foundation denies knowledge of any government investigation targeting them.

However, the Washington Post confirms the Wall Street Journal’s claims. The Post emphasizes that the investigation has been blocked by the Justice Department’s public integrity section prosecutors, who are not politically appointed. (The Washington Post, 10/30/2016)