…as it is an outstanding rundown of the latest in the FBI reinvestigation of Hillary Clinton.
Which is a term not completely accurate, because the “reinvestigation” is only one facet of Clinton’s troubles. The probe into her use of an illegal private server to mishandle government documents and in so doing expose information, some of it classified, to foreign intelligence agencies and others has been revived after having been “concluded” in July by FBI director James Comey – but it turns out that was not the only investigation involving the Democrats’ presidential nominee.
The Clinton Foundation, and its apparent use as a facility for monetizing American foreign policy by trading access and favors for Foundation donors and speaking fees for Bill and Hillary Clinton, has also been under investigation for a year.
Therefore despite whatever denials the Clintons may have offered, it has been true virtually since the beginning of the campaign that the Democrats have supported and nominated someone under FBI investigation for public corruption, which is a first in American history and, it’s safe to say, a new low.
The story is fascinating for more than the lurid corruption at which it hints – there is much infighting both inside the FBI and within the Justice Department. The Wall Street Journal has an amazing story today about the fact FBI agents have believed for some time there was suitable evidence to indict in the Clinton Foundation case only to have been dismissed by prosecutors in the DOJ’s Eastern District of New York office, which is in Brooklyn. That office is the one Loretta Lynch came from before she was named to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General, and the people who work there are her hand-picked people.
And their behavior in this case reflects classic “Just Takin’ Orders” careerism…
Starting in February and continuing today, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and public-corruption prosecutors became increasingly frustrated with each other, as often happens within and between departments. At the center of the tension stood the U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, Robert Capers, who some at the FBI came to view as exacerbating the problems by telling each side what it wanted to hear, these people said. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Capers declined to comment.
The roots of the dispute lie in a disagreement over the strength of the case, these people said, which broadly centered on whether Clinton Foundation contributors received favorable treatment from the State Department under Hillary Clinton.
Senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t think much of the evidence, while investigators believed they had promising leads their bosses wouldn’t let them pursue, they said.
The public-integrity prosecutors weren’t impressed with the FBI presentation, people familiar with the discussion said. “The message was, ‘We’re done here,'” a person familiar with the matter said.
Justice Department officials became increasingly frustrated that the 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.
Within the FBI, some felt they had moved well beyond the allegations made in the anti-Clinton book [Peter Schweitzer’s Clinton Cash]. At least two confidential informants from other public-corruption investigations had provided details about the Clinton Foundation to the FBI, these people said.
The WSJ piece meshes nicely with a column Andrew McCarthy wrote at National Review Tuesday covering the friction between the Eastern District of New York and the DOJ office at the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. That office is run by U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara, and how the Clinton e-mails are really only a vehicle leading to the Clinton Foundation’s corruption…
When we learn that Clinton Foundation investigators are being denied access to patently relevant evidence by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, those are the prosecutors — Loretta Lynch’s prosecutors — we are talking about.
Recall, moreover, that it was Lynch’s Justice Department that:
- refused to authorize use of the grand jury to further the Clinton e-mails investigation, thus depriving the FBI of the power to compel testimony and the production of evidence by subpoena;
- consulted closely with defense attorneys representing subjects of the investigation; permitted Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson — the subordinates deputized by Mrs. Clinton to sort through her e-mails and destroy thousands of them — to represent Clinton as attorneys, despite the fact that they were subjects of the same investigation and had been granted immunity from prosecution (to say nothing of the ethical and legal prohibitions against such an arrangement);
- drastically restricted the FBI’s questioning of Mills and other subjects of the investigation; and
- struck the outrageous deals that gave Mills and Samuelson immunity from prosecution in exchange for providing the FBI with the laptops on which they reviewed Clinton’s four years of e-mails.
That arrangement was outrageous for three reasons: 1) Mills and Samuelson should have been compelled to produce the computers by grand-jury subpoena with no immunity agreement; 2) Lynch’s Justice Department drastically restricted the FBI’s authority to examine the computers; and 3) Lynch’s Justice Department agreed that the FBI would destroy the computers following its very limited examination.
As I have detailed, it was already clear that Lynch’s Justice Department was stunningly derelict in hamstringing the bureau’s e-mails investigation. But now that we know the FBI was simultaneously investigating the Clinton Foundation yet being denied access to the Clinton e-mails, the dereliction appears unconscionable.
And McCarthy is back today with more, as he believes the e-mails investigation has been the FBI’s version of taking a dive all along. Specifically, there is a pressing question about why none of Clinton’s aides and flunkies in government service were asked to turn over their phones, laptops and other devices so the FBI could insure classified information was not being shared in private accounts on those devices – an issue taking on added significance now that we know Anthony Weiner’s laptop has e-mails on it “pertinent to the investigation”…
Why was this not done? There are at least four reasons, none of them good.
First, the Obama Justice Department under Loretta Lynch denied the FBI’s Clinton e-mails investigators access to the grand jury. The grand jury’s power to compel production of evidence and testimony is the source of much of the FBI’s power to convince people to be cooperative. Defanged by DOJ, investigators were forced to negotiate and cajole when they should have been able to demand. That makes it much harder to investigate. It undoubtedly drummed into the agents the message that they should not press too many requests for the voluntary surrender of items the owners would not want to part with — and no one wants to give up personal laptops and smartphones. If a request made by an agent was denied, the agent could have no confidence that the Justice Department would back him.
Second, the Good Ship Clinton overflows with lawyers. It is also very close to the Obama Justice Department (many Obama-administration lawyers were once Clinton-administration lawyers). Lawyers know that the FBI worries about being accused of violating attorney-client privileged communications. They also know that the Obama Justice Department is indulgent of extravagant claims about what the attorney-client privilege shields from disclosure. Lawyers’ devices are thus a big hassle for agents, and they no doubt shy away from asking for them unless it’s patently necessary (as it was, for example, with the laptops of Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, since those computers were used to store and vet all of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails). And when you start shying away from seeking access to the computers of important subjects (such as Mills) because you don’t want to deal with lawyer complications, it becomes much easier to rationalize not seeking the devices of other subjects. Once it is established by habit that obtaining computers is not a priority, you stop asking.
Third, it’s never good to compartmentalize an investigation. In this case, the classified e-mails investigation has apparently been severed from the Clinton Foundation investigation, as if they were completely separate and unrelated. When obviously related matters are joined together, there is a broader basis to demonstrate probable cause that evidentiary items, such as computers, are relevant and should be seized. But that advantage is lost when what should be one investigation is divided into two or more. If you are an agent investigating the classified e-mails case, you are not going to make efforts to acquire a computer that might be very relevant to the Clinton Foundation investigation but only marginally tied to the classified-information probe. When an investigation is artificially carved up, agents do not see the big picture: Things that ought to be acquired end up falling through the cracks.
Fourth and finally, there is the enervating effect of working on an investigation that agents strongly suspect is not going to result in charges. Even as the agents on the classified-information investigation gradually assembled compelling evidence, they had to know that the president and the Justice Department were very unenthusiastic about the case. President Obama talked the investigation down, going out of his way to say Mrs. Clinton would never do anything to harm national security. Justice Department officials leaked the same message to the press.
The picture, then, is of a Justice Department intentionally made toothless to avoid prosecuting Clinton until after she is elected president, at which time Clinton would assumedly be able to kill the investigation under her own power.
Or worse, to avoid that prosecution until the lame-duck period after the election, such that Clinton would be put under indictment on various charges and then an outgoing President Barack Obama could clear her way to inauguration by pardoning her – and reaping his own reward by setting up his own “charitable foundation” which generates half-million dollar speaking fees and free luxury travel.
Either way, we’re watching history – and not particularly good history – being made. The question is what the American people are going to do about it.