This story dropped late last week, but I held off on addressing it for a few reasons. Let's run through some of those caveats: First, the substance of the report rests on the assertions of a single source -- who goes unnamed, and who is vaguely identified as a "former senior law enforcement official." Journalistically, this is very thin. Second, the piece's central claim appears to fly in the face of CNN's very recent reporting that the Justice Department had shot down requests from three FBI field offices to open a probe into the Clinton Foundation. Third, the story comes from a conservative-leaning outlet, and has gained no traction in the mainstream media. All of these points warrant some skepticism, but here are the counterparts: First, the CNN story that did reverberate throughout the national press was also sourced anonymously, apparently through one person. Second, it's possible that even if the DOJ's public integrity unit declined to open an investigation into the Clinton Foundation ("bottom line: there is no case that's open right now"), perhaps another branch of DOJ came to a different conclusion. Third, the Daily Caller also broke the news of Hillary Clinton's upcoming FBI interview back in early July, so they've already established that they have at least one reliable source within the relevant law enforcement circles. With all of that in place, here's what's being reported:
Multiple FBI investigations are underway involving potential corruption charges against the Clinton Foundation, according to a former senior law enforcement official. The investigation centers on New York City where the Clinton Foundation has its main offices, according to the former official who has direct knowledge of the activities. Prosecutorial support will come from various U.S. Attorneys Offices — a major departure from other centralized FBI investigations...The official said involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York “would be seen by agents as a positive development as prosecutors there are generally thought to be more aggressive than the career lawyers within the DOJ.” ... The former official said the investigation is being coordinated between bureau field offices and FBI managers at headquarters in Washington, D.C. The unusual process would ensure senior FBI supervisors, including Director James Comey, would be kept abreast of case progress and of significant developments. The reliance on U.S. attorneys would be a significant departure from the centralized manner in which the FBI managed the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server and email addresses.
As we mentioned last week, Comey recently refused to answer questions from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz regarding the existence of any Clinton Foundation-related investigations. Fox News' Catherine Herridge reported months earlier that one branch of the Bureau's broader email investigation was tied into the Clinton family's "slush fund." Fox followed-up on the Daily Caller piece on Friday, drawing a 'no comment.' A subsequent DC story again asserted the multi-pronged probes are in fact happening, highlighting the anti-corruption record of the US attorney allegedly leading this charge. Preet Bharara put away two powerful New York politicians in this past May, one from each major party; he's also looking into the dealings of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. As a former top aide to Chuck Schumer, Bharara has been a partisan Democrat in the past, but he's built a reputation leading a fiercely independent and relentlessly tenacious US attorney's office in New York's southern district. That particular office boasts "a tradition of independence...that has often led to tension with the Justice Department,” according to a former prosecutor and judge quoted in the New Yorker's May profile piece on Bharara. In other words, if it's true that he's the tip of a prosecutorial spear aimed at the Clinton Foundation, that's a very big deal. For now, though, that's an unconfirmed if. Bharara's office is also declining comment, for what it's worth. Meanwhile, here's a testy exchange between a State Department spokesperson and an Associated Press reporter last week, wherein the latter finally lost his patience over the former's repeated obfuscations in response to questions surrounding apparent conflicts of interest between State and the Clinton Foundation. "Am I not speaking English?"
"We talk to outside groups all the time," she said over and over again, ignoring the fact that the Clinton Foundation wasn't just any outside group, given the huge sums of money involved and Mrs. Clinton's role in the US government at the time. That's why Clinton made all sorts of ethics pledges at the beginning of Obama's first term, several of which she and her foundation went on to flagrantly ignore. The State Department is now stating that those ethics agreements didn't apply to any of her very closest aides, rendering those anti-corruption safeguards farcically useless. Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills could, and apparently did, take care of Clinton's valued interests on her behalf. The hapless spokeswoman finally gulped that State is "confident" that all of the rules were followed, which is exactly what Hillary said when she lied about her improper, national security-compromising email scheme. I'll leave you with CNN's deeper dive into several...unusual revelations about the Clinton Foundation: