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)

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)