Secret Recordings Fueled FBI Feud in Clinton Probe
Agents thought they had enough material to merit aggressively pursuing investigation into Clinton Foundation
Secret recordings helped fuel a dispute among FBI agents and prosecutors as to whether to pursue an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. WSJ’s Christopher Matthews has exclusive details on Lunch Break With Tanya Rivero. Photo: Associated Press
Last night, at 10:04 p.m., two reporters at the Wall Street Journal tossed an incendiary device into the already smoldering debris of what is attempting to pass for a U.S. presidential election – where one of the two leading candidates is under a criminal investigation and the other was caught on tape bragging about being able to randomly grab women by their genitals.
Wall Street Journal reporters Devlin Barrett and Christopher Matthews revealed last evening that the FBI has had an active investigation underway into the Clinton Foundation since last summer but in February of this year the Justice Department told the FBI agents to “stand down” on that investigation. The Clinton Foundation is a sprawling international charity which has accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and foreign corporations as well as Wall Street firms and other U.S. corporations. Many of its donors have also paid large sums in speaking fees or advisory work to Bill Clinton. Allegations have arisen that there has been pay-to-play for favors granted to the donors during Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department. The Clintons have denied any such conduct.
The Attorney General of the Justice Department, Loretta Lynch, was sworn in on April 27, 2015. She met secretly with Bill Clinton on her plane on the tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona on June 28 of this year, at a time when Hillary Clinton was under a criminal investigation over her use of a private email server to transmit classified government material during her time as Secretary of State. Now, as the Wall Street Journal article makes clear, the Clinton Foundation has also been under a year-long investigation by the FBI, a unit of the Justice Department. Bill Clinton continues to serve as a Director on the Clinton Foundation’s Board. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, serves as its Vice Chair.
Likely causing great angst in the Clinton campaign camp this morning is the further revelation in the Wall Street Journal article that the FBI investigation had advanced far enough to have made “secretly recorded conversations of a suspect in a public-corruption case talking about alleged deals the Clintons made….” and that the FBI has at least “two confidential informants.”
The instruction to “stand down” came to a boil this past August, according to the Wall Street Journal report:
“…a senior Justice Department official called the FBI deputy director, Mr. McCabe, on Aug. 12 to say the agents in New York seemed to be disregarding or disobeying their instructions, these people said. The conversation was a tense one, they said, and at one point Mr. McCabe asked, ‘Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?’ The senior Justice Department official replied: ‘Of course not.’ ”
CNN also reported yesterday that FBI agents believe the Justice Department may be attempting to protect a powerful political person. A group of CNN reporters said they had interviewed “more than a dozen officials close to the matter.” The report indicated that the FBI agents had “pressed to take more overt steps in the Clinton Foundation probe, including possibly issuing subpoenas,” but the Justice Department had “opposed such moves.”
As if all of this wasn’t explosive enough coming just six days before the most controversial presidential election in modern history, the credibility of the U.S. Justice Department came under further attack yesterday when WikiLeaks released an email from Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik tipping off John Podesta, the Chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to developments in the probe of her use of the private server while Secretary of State. Using his private Gmail account, Kadzik wrote to Podesta on May 19, 2015, approximately one month after Hillary Clinton had announced her candidacy:
“There is a HJC [House Judiciary Committee] oversight hearing today where the head of our Civil Division will testify. Likely to get questions on State Department emails. Another filing in the FOIA case went in last night or will go in this am that indicates it will be awhile (2016) before the State Department posts the emails.”
Putting together Lynch’s private tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton and Kadzik’s leaking tips to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair and the U.S. Justice Department seems to be confirming the FBI agents’ worst fears about a politically obstructed investigation.
Kadzik had been Podesta’s attorney during the Kenneth Starr investigation of Bill Clinton’s sexual involvement with Monica Lewinsky when she worked as an intern at the White House. Podesta was investigated for his potential role in helping Lewinsky get a job outside of the White House. In an email released by WikiLeaks from 2008, Podesta writes that Kadzik is a “Fantastic lawyer. Kept me out of jail.”
Kadzik is currently the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the Justice Department. According to his official bio at the Justice Department, he “led the successful effort to confirm Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.” Kadzik joined the Justice Department in April 2013 after 30 years at the corporate law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLC, a 60-year old law firm that went out of business this past February.
Yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Justice Department asking for an investigation into the multiple conflicts of interests that have been publicly disclosed thus far. Grassley called out the following additional issues surrounding Kadzik:
Mr. Kadzik lobbied Mr. Podesta for then-President Bill Clinton to pardon Marc Rich. On this point, the House Committee on Government Reform found that Mr. Kadzik was hired by Marc Rich because of his connections with Mr. Podesta.
Mr. Kadzik met with Mr. Podesta for dinner one day after Secretary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony. Mr. Kadzik also met at Mr. Podesta’s home for dinner on January 13, 2016. During both times the FBI was still investigating Secretary Clinton.
On May 5, 2015, Mr. Kadzik’s son asked Mr. Podesta for a job on the Clinton campaign.
Grassley raised multiple concerns about other individuals within the Justice Department as well as raising the following concern:
“Against the backdrop of these apparent conflicts, the public has also learned that the Justice Department entered into unusual immunity agreements with all of Secretary Clinton’s close associates. These immunity agreements inexplicably limited the scope in which the FBI could review relevant emails. For example, the immunity agreements between Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson only permitted the FBI to review email archives from Platte River Networks created after June 1, 2014, and before February 1, 2015, that included emails sent or received from Secretary Clinton’s four email addresses during her tenure as Secretary of State. That limitation in scope would have excluded any emails from Cheryl Mills to Paul Combetta in late 2014 or early 2015 touching on the destruction or concealment of federal records being sought by Congress. Further, the scope would preclude the FBI from reviewing any of Secretary Clinton’s emails if they were not from the four listed in the agreement. Finally, the agreements included an inexplicable agreement to destroy laptops that contained records subject to congressional subpoenas and preservation letters.”