April 26, 2015: The Clinton Foundation admits mistakes.

Maura Pally (Credit: The Clinton Foundation)

Maura Pally (Credit: The Clinton Foundation)

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. 

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.

 

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)

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)