Gawker publishes some doodles made by Bill Clinton when he was US president. Gawker claims the doodles come from the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer. It is not clear where or how Guccifer got the doodles, except they come from a folder called “Wjcdrawings.” It is probable the doodles were stored either on The Clinton Library’s server (which has a .gov address) or The Clinton Foundation’s server. (Gawker, 12/4/2013) If it’s the latter, that would help verify Guccifer’s later claim that he looked into Clinton’s private email server, because it apparently was also The Clinton Foundation’s server until early 2015.
This is according to a Bloomberg News analysis. Twenty-five of the Dow Jones’s 30 companies gave donations directly to the Clinton Foundation, while 27 of the companies announced philanthropic projects are to its associated Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Sixteen of the companies also responded to a plea from Hillary Clinton’s State Department to help underwrite a $60 million US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. The lone holdout is UnitedHealth Group Inc.
The 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, collectively spent $193 million last year lobbying the federal government and Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
As an example, Procter & Gamble Co., known for making a variety of household items, gave $3.9 million to CGI and donated another $3 million to the pavilion fund. While Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the company lobbied the State Department on more than two-dozen issues, including trade deals and China policy.
Even Bloomberg News, which conducted this news analysis, is owned by Bloomberg LP, which has given $50,000 to $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and also has given money for the pavilion. Additionally, Bloomberg Philanthropies has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation.
David Almasi, the executive director for the National Center for Public Policy Research, says such donations are “always going to raise suspicions. It’s the appearance of impropriety that is the problem. If [the Clintons] are going to play like this, they are going to have to accept that we are going to be skeptical.”
Bloomberg News notes, “Federal law bans companies from making donations to candidates. The once and possibly future first family’s political and philanthropic network offers the private sector access points in the form of charitable projects that polish brands on both sides of the transaction.”
Bill Allison, director of the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, says, “Even the donors who are writing $10,000 checks are going to get a level of attention to their concerns from Bill Clinton, and he is someone who is married to — potentially — the next president of the United States.”
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader says, “This is the new theme. It isn’t just PACs [political action committees], it is giving to foundations with the politician’s name on it. You’ve got to call these companies. You’ve got to meet with them. Socialize with them. You become more dependent on them. You become more obligated. It is a terrible web of influence that operates in nonprofit areas.” (Bloomberg News, 5/5/2014)
Czech fashion model Petra Nemcova survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami by clinging to a palm tree, while her husband was killed. Emotionally moved by the experience, she founded a charity dedicated to building schools for children in impoverished countries, called the Happy Hearts Fund. Beginning in 2011, she attempts multiple times to get former President Bill Clinton to attend one of her charity’s annual fundraising galas.
Trying again in July 2013, she invites Clinton to be the recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the next gala. She is so keen on having him attend that she is willing to schedule the date of the event to whenever he is available. However, Clinton declines the invitation, saying he is too busy.
According to Sue Veres Royal, who is executive director of Happy Hearts at the time, Nemcova then meets with officers at the Clinton Foundation, and afterwards, “[Nemcova] called me and said we have to include an honorarium for him — that they don’t look at these things unless money is offered, and it has to be $500,000.”
The invitation to Clinton is redone two months later, this time including an offer of $500,000 from Happy Hearts to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton accepts, and does accept the reward at the June19, 2014 gala in return for the money, which will be used on development projects in Haiti.
Veres Royal will later say, “The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium.” She will be dismissed a few weeks after the gala due to conflict over the gala and other issues.
The donation will not be publicly revealed until the New York Times reports on it in May 2015. The Times will comment that “the episode provides a window into the way the Clinton Foundation relies on the Clintons’ prestige to amass donors large and small, offering the prospect, as described in the foundation’s annual report, of lucrative global connections and participation in a worldwide mission to ‘unlock human potential’ through ‘the power of creative collaboration.’ … [I]t is extremely rare for honorees, or their foundations, to be paid from a gala’s proceeds, charity experts said — as it is for the proceeds to be diverted to a different cause.”
Doug White, head of the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University, says, “This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate. [Nemcova] has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful.” (The New York Times, 5/29/2015)
It points out that both Bill and Hillary Clinton has recently been paid speaking fees that are sometimes “astronomical,” and significantly greater than other prominent politicians, including former US presidents. Furthermore, the Clintons often give speeches at public or private universities. These speeches are usually paid by private individuals or foundations, not by the universities themselves.
For instance, in March 2014, Hillary was paid $300,000 to speak to students and faculty at UCLA [The University of California, Los Angeles]. The entire fee was paid through a private endowment by Meyer Luskin, president of Scope Industries, a food waste recycling company. In 2012, Bill Clinton was similarly paid $250,000 for a UCLA speech paid by Luskin. In both cases, the money allegedly went to the Clinton Foundation. (Nonprofit Quarterly, 7/11/2014) However, ABC News has tried and failed to get any documentation from the Clintons proving the speaking fees went to the foundation. (ABC News, 7/9/2014)
Nonprofit Quarterly then suggests this means the Clintons’ speeches to universities could be a way for rich donors to give well over the usual campaign spending limits to Hillary’s “all but inevitable presidential campaign” by effectively “repurposing” money through these large speaking fees. “It would be terribly disappointing to imagine that the colleges and universities paying the Clintons these sums might be fronting, hopefully unknowingly, for individual donors supporting these colleges’ lecture series, but individually have personal or political agendas that would benefit from being associated with an institution of higher education that pays Bill or Hillary Clinton a couple of hundred thousand for a speech—even if the money ends up in the Clintons’ family foundation.” (Nonprofit Quarterly, 7/11/2014)
Newly released tax filings indicate that travel expenses for the Clinton Foundation were $8.5 million in 2013, nearly double that of previous years. This is 10% of the foundation’s total expenses. The filing notes, “The Board recognizes that, due to extraordinary security and other requirements, William J. Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton may require the need to travel by charter or in first class, the determination of which will be made on a case-by-case basis.” All three Clintons had not been members of the board in previous years, due to Hillary being secretary of state. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) also was spun off as a separate entity during her tenure, then remerged into the foundation in 2013. However, expenses are not itemized to determine how much travel costs are for each person or program. (Politico, 11/19/2014)
In the previous year’s income tax form, the foundation claimed that it had not provided “first class or charter travel” for any of its employees. (The Clinton Foundation, 9/10/2013)
Clinton aide Huma Abedin requests $12 million from Moroccan King Mohammed VI in exchange for granting the king’s request to host an international Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) (a Clinton Foundation program) meeting in Morocco. Abdein outlines the request in an email later made public by WikiLeaks: “This was [Clinton’s] idea, our office approached the Moroccans and they 100 percent believe they are doing this at her request. The King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting.”
Abdein mentions the necessity of Clinton’s presence for a successful initiation of the metting: “If [Clinton] was not part if it, meeting was a non-starter.”
Abdein also cites a potentially related “mess” involving China and implies her responsibility for it’s creation: “It will break a lot of china to back out now when we had so many opportunities to do it in the past few months. She created this mess and she knows it.” (The Daily Caller, 10/20/16)
The Washington Post reports that nearly half of the major donors who are backing Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as well as nearly half of the bundlers for her 2008 presidential campaign, have given at least $10,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Additionally, “many of the foundation’s biggest donors are foreigners who are legally barred from giving to US political candidates. A third of foundation donors who have given more than $1 million are foreign governments or other entities based outside the United States, and foreign donors make up more than half of those who have given more than $5 million.”
The high percentage of donations from overseas is considered “especially unusual” for a US-based charity. The Post comments that many foreign donors “are likely to have interests before a potential Clinton administration—and yet are ineligible to give to US political campaigns.” The Post also notes, “The overlap between the Clintons’ political network and their charitable work was apparent [on February 13, 2013], when Dennis Cheng stepped down as the foundation’s chief development officer ahead of his expected role as a key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.” (The Washington Post, 2/18/2015)
Responding to news reports that Clinton used only a private email and private server while secretary of state, Priebus attempts to tie them into previous reports scrutinizing the Clinton Foundation and its fundraising from foreign governments. “It makes you wonder: Did she use the private emails so she could conduct diplomacy and fundraising at the same time?” (Politico, 3/3/2015)
The New York Times reports that a Clinton spokesperson has declined to comment on Clinton’s “use of clintonemail.com for matters related to the Clinton Foundation, which has received millions of dollars in donations from foreign governments.”
However, John Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates transparency in government, comments, “It seems her intent was to create a system where she could personally manage access to her communications” both relating to her secretary of state work and the Clinton Foundation. “Given all the power she had as secretary of state, a lot of that work would be jumbled together. Her presidential ambitions and the family foundation would be wrapped up technically in email.” (The New York Times, 3/4/2015)
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.
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’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.
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)
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)
She narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008. Due to her long and prominent political career, she immediately establishes herself as the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination. (The New York Times, 4/13/2015)
She resigns from the board of directors of the Clinton Foundation on the same day to avoid conflict of interest issues. (Politico, 4/12/2015)
Bloomberg News calls this news report a “politically explosive revelation…because the Clinton Foundation promised to disclose its donors as a condition of Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of state.” In December 2008, just before Clinton took office, the Clinton Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Obama White House promising to reveal its donors. This agreement explicitly included the CGEP, so this revelation shows the agreement was not upheld.
Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra, who cofounded the CGEP with former President Bill Clinton, says, “We’re not trying to hide anything. […] All of the money that was raised by CGEP flowed through to the Clinton Foundation—every penny—and went to the [charitable] initiatives we identified.”
Giustra and the Clinton Foundation assert that Canadian law prevents them from revealing the CGEP’s donors. However, Bloomberg News reports, “Canadian tax and privacy law experts were dubious of this claim.” Len Farber, former director of tax policy at Canada’s Department of Finance, says, “There’s nothing that would preclude them from releasing the names of donors. It’s entirely up to them.” (Bloomberg News, 4/19/2015)
In November 2015, a Harper’s Magazine article will claim that the CGEP is actually a “slush fund” which has allowed politically toxic foreign contributors to anonymously donate money to the Clinton Foundation, with the hopes of influencing Clinton while she was secretary of state. (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015)
The foundation’s acting CEO Maura Pally says, “Yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.” Her comments come in the wake of numerous news reports about conflicts of interest and lack of transparency in the foundation.
Many of the reports are based on the book Clinton Cash by conservative author Peter Schweizer. According to CNN, Schweizer says he doesn’t “have ‘direct evidence’ of ethical misconduct, but [says] the pattern he uncovered should raise eyebrows and trigger an investigation.” (CNN, 4/27/2015)
Pally was a deputy assistant secretary under Clinton at State Department.
This comment is by Bill Allison, who is a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit government watchdog group. Law professor Zephyr Teachout, a Democratic candidate for governor of New York in 2014, was an organizing director there. (The Daily Mail, 4/27/2015) It is headed by Chris Gates, who was chairman of the Democratic Party in Colorado. (The Colorado Independent, 9/9/2014)
Politico reports this after some major donors are reconsidering giving to the foundation due to recent negative media reports as well as Hillary Clinton’s recent announcement she is running for president again. An unnamed donor who gave at least $500,000 to the foundation last year says, “There are a lot of factors and the reputational is among them. We had some questions about how the money was being spent—and that was long before the problems were in the press.” (Politico, 4/30/2015)
“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy.” He says he won’t stop being paid for giving speeches. “I gotta pay our bills. And I also give a lot of it to the foundation every year.” He also says, “People should draw their own conclusions. I’m not in politics. All I’m saying is the idea that there’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true.” (NBC News, 5/4/2015)
The next day, Politico reports that his “I gotta pay our bills” comment strikes some Democrats as “off-key” and worrisome, given the vast wealth the Clintons have. (Politico, 5/5/2015)
In the wake of numerous critical news reports, and just days after Hillary Clinton announced her second presidential campaign, the foundation says that it will limit foreign government donations to six countries that have already funded Clinton Foundation programs: Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. Other countries that donated in the last year, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, are not included. The foundation also says it will suspend its future overseas conferences. (Politico, 4/15/2015)
The foundation placed voluntary limits on itself in 2008 shortly before Hillary became secretary of state, but those limits were secretly violated in a number of ways.
The foundation’s records show that there are not many news outlets who would report on the foundation and didn’t donate some money to it. The following have given at least $1 million:
- Carlos Slim, the Mexican multibillionaire who is also the largest New York Times shareholder.
- James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, and the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
- Newsmax Media, the conservative media outlet.
- Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Reuters news service.
Others to donate smaller amounts include Google, Bloomberg, Richard Mellon Scaife, Mort Zuckerman, AOL, HBO, Viacom, Turner Broadcasting (CNN), Twitter, Comcast, NBC Universal, PBS, the Washington Post, and many more. (Politico, 5/15/2015)
Sid Blumenthal is a private citizen without any security clearance, as well as a Clinton Foundation employee. Clinton says, “It’s important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you were in politics and to understand what is on their minds. And he has been a friend of mine for a long time. He sent me unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances.” (Real Clear Politics, 5/20/2015)
One month later, Trey Gowdy (R), the head of the House Benghazi Committee, will say that newly released emails show that Clinton “was soliciting and regularly corresponding with Sidney Blumenthal – who was passing unvetted intelligence information about Libya from a source with a financial interest in the country. It just so happens these emails directly contradict her public statement that the messages from Blumenthal were unsolicited.” (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015)
Furthermore, the New York Times will report one month later, “According to officials briefed on the matter, among the emails the State Department could not find [but were handed over by Blumenthal] were those in which Mrs. Clinton encouraged Mr. Blumenthal to keep sending memos or in which she asked additional questions about their contents.” For instance, in July 2012, Clinton told Blumenthal in an email, “thanks for keeping this stuff coming!” In a March 2012 email reply to him, she wrote, “This strains credulity based on what I know. Any more info about it?”
She frequently makes encouraging comments to his emails, such as “keep ’em coming” or “another keeper.”
On other occasions, Clinton appears to have wanted to follow Blumenthal’s suggestions. For instance, after he gave her public relations advice in an August 22, 2011 email over how to discuss the imminent fall of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya, Clinton forwarded his email to an aide and wrote, “Sid makes a good case for what I should say.”
The Times will conclude that the emails “appear to show that Mrs. Clinton and her advisers took the memos and other advice from Mr. Blumenthal fairly seriously.”
However, despite this assessment from the Times, Nick Merrill, a spokesperson for Clinton, will say, “The idea that this runs counter to the assertion that the emails were unsolicited is a leap. Mr. Blumenthal began emailing of his own accord. Polite acknowledgments are not tantamount to solicitation.” (The New York Times, 6/29/2015)
Blumenthal was paid a $120,000 yearly salary by the Clinton Foundation, but didn’t seem to actually do any charity work there. (Politico, 5/28/2015)
The foundation won’t give the exact amount, but it is somewhere between 12 and 26 million dollars. Foundation officials say the income was not disclosed publicly because it was considered revenue, rather than donations. CNN calls this “the latest in a string of admissions from the foundation that it didn’t always abide by a 2008 ethics agreement to disclose its funding sources publicly.” (CNN, 5/21/2015)
Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international affairs, says that the intertwining financial relationships between the Clintons, US defense contractors, and foreign governments who buy US weapons is “a vivid example of a very big problem—the degree to which conflicts of interest have become endemic. […] It has troubled me all along that the Clinton Foundation was not being more scrupulous about who it would take money from and who it wouldn’t. American foreign policy is better served if people responsible for it are not even remotely suspected of having these conflicts of interest. When George Marshall was secretary of state, nobody was worried about whether or not he would be distracted by donations to a foundation or to himself. This wasn’t an issue.” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)
Politico reports that Blumenthal was paid $10,000 per month by the Clinton Foundation while Clinton served as secretary of state, and “Some officials at the charity grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons.” (Politico, 5/28/2016)
In an apparent reaction to this, Neera Tanden, president of the left-wing think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP), writes sarcastically in an email to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, “Sidney sure is the gift that keeps giving!”
Podesta replies, “It always amazes me that people like Sid either completely lack self awareness or self respect. Maybe both. Will you promise to shoot me if I ever end up like that?” (WikiLeaks, 10/12/2016)
On January 1, 2016, Podesta will also discuss Blumenthal with Brent Budowsky, a political commentator and longtime Clinton supporter. Podesta will write in an email, “Sid is lost in his own web of conspiracies. I pay zero attention to what he says.” (WikiLeaks, 10/13/2016)
Blumenthal sent over 800 emails to Clinton while she was secretary of state, and she often complimented them and/or forwarded them to others.
“Today, the Clinton Foundation is unlike anything else in the history of the nation and, perhaps, the world: It is a global philanthropic empire run by a former US president and closely affiliated with a potential future president, with the audacious goal of solving some of the world’s most vexing problems by bringing together the wealthiest, glitziest, and most powerful people from every part of the planet. […] The foundation now includes 11 major initiatives, focused on issues as divergent as crop yields in Africa, earthquake relief in Haiti, and the cost of AIDS drugs worldwide. In all, the Clintons’ constellation of related charities has raised $2 billion, employs more than 2,000 people, and has a combined annual budget of more than $223 million.”
According to the independent watchdog group the American Institute of Philanthropy, the foundation spends about 89 percent of its money on its charitable mission. Thus that group has given it an A rating (with A-plus being the best). However, Charity Navigator, the other leading watchdog group that rates charities, has not issued a grade for the foundation, saying its structure makes it too complex to grade. In 2015, it put the foundation on its “watch list,” due to negative media reports. (The Washington Post, 6/2/2015)
But when asked if he’ll keep giving paid speeches if she becomes the next president, he says, “No, I don’t think so.” In 2014 alone, Bill and Hillary were paid $25 million for 104 paid speeches, and such speeches have raised conflict of interest questions. Asked if he will continue to work for the Clinton Foundation if Hillary becomes president, he says, “That will be not an easy decision should she be elected president. She will have to decide…[We] will have to talk about it.” (CNN, 6/11/2015)
CNN journalist Jake Tapper asks Bill Clinton, “I think a lot of people might say, OK, you say there’s no evidence that anything was done for [donors to the Clinton Foundation], but can you really say that these companies, these wealthy individuals, these governments, none of them sought anything? I mean, some of them did have business before the State Department.”
Clinton replies, “I don’t know. […] I know of no example. But you never know what people’s motives are.”
Tapper then says to him, “You say you don’t know if anybody sought any favor.”
Clinton responds, “No, and I don’t think Hillary would know either. She was pretty busy those years. And I never saw her study a list of my contributors or…and I had no idea who was doing business before the State Department.” (CNN, 6/14/2015)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
In the summer of 2015, the 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.
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.
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)
The Republican National Committee files four new lawsuits stemming from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests it had filed in 2015. The lawsuits include a demand for all emails between 14 State Department officials and private email domains associated with Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation. These new filings bring the total number of civil suits over access to Clinton’s records pending in federal court to at least 38. (The Associated Press, 3/17/2016)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
“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)
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)
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)
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)
US District Court Judge Ketanji Jackson orders USAID [The US Agency for International Development] to make public more Clinton-related emails.
In December 2015, The Republican National Committee (RNC) filed two Freedom of Information Act requests to USAID. One was for all emails between the 16 top USAID officials and a number of web domains related to Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea Clinton, or the Clinton Foundation. The second was for all emails between those top USAID officials and ten former State Department officials considered close to the Clintons.
Eight hundred pages of emails matching the request will be made public by July 11, 2016. USAID says it needs to consult with the State Department regarding another 2,600 pages. Judge Jackson wants a timetable for the release of those, but that is still to be determined.
Politico reports, “The requests appear to focus on Clinton critics’ claims that the activities of the Clinton Foundation and of some former aides to the Clintons improperly influenced official business at the State Department and USAID.”
Jackson was appointed by President Obama. (Politico, 6/1/2016)
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)
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)