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)

May 5, 2015: The controversial book “Clinton Cash” is published, criticizing the Clinton Foundation.

The book, Clinton Cash (Credit: public domain)

The book, Clinton Cash (Credit: public domain)

The book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, written by Peter Schweizer, is published by HarperCollins. The book is highly critical of the Clinton Foundation, and is released within one month of Clinton announcing her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. In November 2016, it will be revealed that the book is a major reason why the FBI starts an investigation into the foundation a short time after its publication.

The book causes controversy even before it is published, due to major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News, getting exclusive stories based on different portions of the book. The Times at least says they didn’t pay anyone for their exclusives. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015)

The foundation also publicly admits that it made mistakes, due to a wave of negative reporting, with many stories based on the books’ contents.

The day the book is published, Clinton’s campaign posts a section its official website attempting to refute the book’s claims. Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, writes: “The book has zero evidence to back up its outlandish claims… While we will not be consumed by these kinds of attacks, we will also not let them go unchallenged.” (The New York Times, 5/4/2015)

The book is widely read, staying five weeks on the New York Times’ best seller list. (The New York Times, 6/21/2015)

Peter Schweizer (Credit: clintoncashdotcom)

Peter Schweizer (Credit: clintoncashdotcom)

Much of the criticism of the book is based on the reputation and motives of its author. Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, a right wing think tank, and was a research fellow at Stanford University’s right wing Hoover Institution. He is also a senior editor-at-large for Breitbart News, a controversial right wing news website so supportive of Donald Trump, the man who will become Clinton’s main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, that Stephen Bannon, the executive chair of Breitbart News, will resign in August 2016 to become the CEO of Trump’s campaign. (The New York Times, 8/18/2016)

Schweizer has written many books, most of them with an overt right wing political slant, such as Do as I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, published in 2005.

Shortly after the book is published, the publisher announces that “seven to eight factual corrections” have been made to a revised version, calling them “actually quite minor.” (Politico, 5/14/2015)

A Newsweek review of the book comments, [J]ust because the book’s author, who has written for Breitbart News, is widely considered a right-wing guttersnipe… doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Well, at least not entirely wrong. He gets various dates and figures wrong… Mostly, though, it raises intriguing questions without ever really convicting.”

Newsweek continues, “The book contains many more lurid examples of Bill and Hillary [Clinton] doing things that look bad—from Bill taking juicy speaking fees from a major investor in the Keystone XL pipeline while Hillary’s state department reviewed the pipeline deal, to the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from a Swedish mining investor who more or less financed a coup in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. None of these actions are illegal. And it’s not even clear if they’re related. The rooster doesn’t cause the sun to rise, but this is the thrust of Schweizer’s argument. He never proves any laws were broken—in fact, he practically begins the book by hedging his accusations: ‘I realize how shocking these allegations may appear. Are these activities illegal? That’s not for me to say. I’m not a lawyer.'” (Newsweek, 5/1/2015)

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.

 

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.

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)

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)

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)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director James Comey refuses to say whether the Clinton Foundation is being investigated.

160707ClintonFoundationMichaelLocosanoGetty

Bill and Hillary Clinton attend an open plenary session for the Clinton Global Initiative on September 22, 2014. (Credit: John Moore / Getty Images)

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) asks Comey: “Did you look at the Clinton Foundation?”

Comey replies, “I’m not going to comment on the existence or nonexistence of any other investigations.”

Chaffetz then asks, “Was the Clinton Foundation tied into this investigation?”

Comey responds, “Yeah, I’m not going to answer that.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

It has previously been reported by Fox News in January 2016 that the Clinton Foundation is being investigated by the FBI, but that hasn’t been officially confirmed. An unnamed “FBI source” also told the Daily Mail in April 2016 that the FBI is conducting an investigation of the Clinton Foundation separate from its Clinton email investigation. (The Daily Mail, 7/7/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post will report that there actually is an FBI investigation and it has been in existence since at least 2015, but it has been hobbled by a lack of support from the Justice Department.

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)

Mid-July 2016—August 2016: FBI and Justice Department officials agree to wait until after the 2016 presidential election to decide the next steps in the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation.

According to a November 2016 New York Times article, senior FBI and Justice Department officials have a series of meetings over what to do regarding the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, which has been in existence since the summer of 2015, but lacks the grand jury authority that would give it subpoena power. The Times will report, “The investigation, based in New York, had not developed much evidence and was based mostly on information that had surfaced in news stories and the book ‘Clinton Cash,’ according to several law enforcement officials briefed on the case.”

These officials “agreed that making the Clinton Foundation investigation public could influence the presidential race and suggest they were favoring [Republican presidential nominee Donald] Trump. But waiting, they acknowledged, could open them up to criticism from Republicans, who were demanding an investigation. They agreed to keep the case open but wait until after the election to determine their next steps. The move infuriated some agents, who thought that the FBI’s leaders were reining them in because of politics.” (The New York Times, 11/1/2016)

A CNN article published shortly after the Times article will quote an unnamed law enforcement official familiar with the meetings as saying, “It’s just a (message of) ‘hold right now until after the elections — no subpoenas issued, no interviews.'” Although the Times says the meetings happen in August 2016, CNN says the decision to wait is made in a mid-July 2016 meeting. (CNN, 11/2/2016)

During this time frame, on August 12, 2016, a Justice Department official unsuccessfully attempts to shut down the investigation.

August 1, 2016: An author says the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation, which he knows from his own FBI interviews.

Peter Schweizer appears on Sean Hannity’s show on August 1, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

Peter Schweizer, the conservative author of the 2015 book Clinton Cash that is highly critical of the Clinton Foundation, is interviewed by Fox News journalist Sean Hannity. He says, “I can’t go into detail. But I can tell you on personal experience that I know the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation.”

Hannity asks, “They’re doing it now? They’re doing it today? Have they questioned you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Schweizer responds, “I’d rather not talk about that, but they are doing it at present.” (LawNewz, 8/2/2016)

At the time, the existence of the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation has rarely been confirmed by the mainstream media. However, in late October 2016, it will be reported by multiple media outlets that the investigation exists and that Schweizer has been interviewed by FBI agents more than once. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

On November 3, 2016, he will say that he has been interviewed by the FBI multiple, but not since February 2016. He also will say, “As much as I’d like to say [my] book is the entire case, that is not the case. That’s certainly how the Clinton team is going to represent it. But they have done a lot of legwork, as you would expect the FBI to do.” (Fox News, 11/3/2016)

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 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 29, 2016: The FBI does have a Clinton Foundation investigation, and Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails could be useful to it.

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Tom Fuentes is a former assistant FBI director at the FBI and a CNN analyst. He says, “The FBI has an intensive investigation, ongoing, into the Clinton Foundation. … [Clinton aide] Huma Abedin and her role in the foundation, and possible allegations concerning the activities of the secretary of state [Clinton] in the nature of the foundation, and possible pay to play – that’s still being looked at. Now you have her emails on a computer where the FBI already has a separate case going for Anthony Weiner’s alleged activities with a minor girl on that case. So, in a sense, it’s almost turned into a one-stop shopping for the FBI as they could have implications affecting three separate investigations on one computer.”

He adds that “Her emails are not just related to the email Clinton [investigation]. That part’s being reopened. The Clinton Foundation case didn’t need to be reopened, it’s never been closed. That’s on-going.”

When asked what his source for this is, he says, “Senior officials at the FBI, several of them, in and out of the bureau.”

In August 2016, CNN reported that there was no FBI Clinton Foundation investigation. But just one day after Fuentes’ comments, both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post will confirm the claims made by Fuentes. (CNN, 10/29/2016)

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)

October 30, 2016: The FBI’s Miami field office is said to be involved in the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, possibly targeting activities in Latin America.

On this day, the Wall Street Journal reports that FBI field offices in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC. and Little Rock, Arkansas, have been investigating the Clinton Foundation for possible financial and political corruption. All the offices have been involved since at least February 2016, though there was a reorganization in mid-July 2016, with the New York office taking the lead.

Richard Pollock (Credit: The Daily Caller)

Richard Pollock (Credit: The Daily Caller)

Later on the same day, the Daily Caller reports that at some point the FBI field office in Miami, Florida, has also joined the investigation. Further details are not given except that “The Clinton Foundation has numerous programs operating in Haiti, the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America.” The Miami office would be the closest to all those locations. (The Daily Caller, 10/30/2016)

The Daily Caller’s claim is given additional credence because the author of the article, Richard Pollock, also wrote an article in August 2016 claiming the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation was in existence at a time when nearly all other media outlets failed to report that. That article mentioned details, such as the investigation was being led by the FBI’s New York field office in conjunction with Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, that have since been reported elsewhere.  (The Daily Caller, 8/11/2016)

November 2, 2016: Fox News claims the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation is “a very high priority,” and it is “likely” it could eventually lead to an indictment.

Bret Baier appears on Brit Hume's show to clarify his statement about a possible Clinton indictment. (Credit: Fox News)

Bret Baier appears on Brit Hume’s show to clarify his statement about a possible Clinton indictment. (Credit: Fox News)

Fox News reports that the FBI’s Clinton Foundation has now taken a “very high priority.” This is according to unnamed “separate sources with intimate knowledge of the probe.”

The FBI had already collected a great deal of evidence and interviewed and re-interviewed multiple people. But in recent weeks, emails released on a daily basis by WikiLeaks, plus occasional Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) email releases, have provided many more leads. One source says, “There is an avalanche of new information coming in every day.”

FBI agents are “actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Due to all the new information, agents will be re-interviewing many people again, some for the third time. Agents are also double checking the FBI interview summaries (known as “302’s”) of Clinton and her top aides, to make sure their answers jibe with all the new information.

The FBI’s White Collar Crime Division is handling the investigation. (Fox News, 11/2/2016)

Fox News journalist Bret Baier claims that he spoke to the sources, and they told him that it is “likely” the investigation will eventually result in an indictment or indictments, “barring some obstruction in some way” from the Justice Department. (Real Clear Politics, 11/2/2016)

The next day, Baier modifies his claim about an indictment being likely. “I want to be clear about this, and this came from a Q and A that I did with Brit Hume after my show and after we went through everything. He asked me if, after the election, if Hillary Clinton wins, will this investigation continue, and I said, ‘yes absolutely.’ I pressed the sources again and again what would happen. I got to the end of that and said, ‘they have a lot of evidence that would, likely lead to an indictment.’ But that’s not, that’s inartfully answered. That’s not the process. That’s not how you do it. You have to have a prosecutor. If they don’t move forward with a prosecutor with the [Justice Department], there would be, I’m told, a very public call for an independent prosecutor to move forward. There is confidence in the evidence, but for me to phrase it like I did, of course that got picked up everywhere, but the process is different than that.” (Fox News, 11/3/2016)

November 2, 2016: Suspicions of partisan political decisions has been causing increasing conflict within both the FBI and Justice Department, as well as between them.

CNN publishes a front-page article with the title “Turmoil in the FBI,” which is based on interviews with more than a dozen anonymous government officials close to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. It states that since the investigation began in July 2015, “infighting among some agents and officials has exposed some parts of the storied [FBI] to be buffeted by some of the same bitter [political] divisions as the rest of American society.”

Loretta Lynch (Credit: ABC News)

Loretta Lynch (Credit: ABC News)

CNN alleges, “Some of the sharpest divides have emerged between some agents in the FBI’s New York field office, the bureau’s largest and highest-profile, and officials at FBI headquarters in Washington and at the Justice Department. Some rank-and-file agents interpreted cautious steps taken by the Justice Department and FBI headquarters as being done for political reasons or to protect a powerful political figure [Clinton]. At headquarters, some have viewed the actions and complaints of some agents in the field as driven by the common desire of investigators to get a big case or, perhaps worst, because of partisan views.”

The tensions are said to have “multiplied” since FBI Director James Comey announced in July 2016 that he would not recommend indicting Clinton. In addition to increasing conflicts within the FBI, his announcement “also opened up sharp divides between Justice [Department] and FBI officials, and even within the Justice Department itself, where some officials have pushed for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to more forcefully assert her power over the FBI.”

The tensions in the Clinton email investigation have been duplicated by the Clinton Foundation investigation, with some FBI agents again frustrated at what they consider political obstructionism from FBI leaders and the Justice Department to protect Clinton. That has also led to friction between FBI headquarters and the New York field office.

Since then, conflicts have increased still more due to the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation on October 28, 2016. Potentially relevant evidence was discovered on the computer of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, shortly after October 3, 2016. “The longer it took for officials at FBI headquarters and at the Justice Department to decide how to proceed with the matter, the more conspiracies spread among some agents that perhaps senior FBI officials were trying to cover up the matter.”

Rick DesLauriers (Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters)

Rick DesLauriers (Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters)

One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “It’s the times we are living in. No one has emerged from this election unscathed.”

Rick DesLauriers, who was head of the FBI’s Boston field office until he retired three years ago, says, “Politics is running rampant. Passions are high.” He adds that “[Comey] made a decision that angered Republicans in July [2016] and one that angered Democrats in October [2016]. That’s a pretty good indication he’s nonpartisan.”

CNN also notes that “Some of the tensions are built-in because of the FBI’s unique position as part of the Justice Department but also projecting a large measure of independence. The FBI director’s job has a 10-year tenure, spanning presidential administrations, while his bosses at the Justice Department are politically appointed and they leave when the administration ends.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)

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)