by James Holbrooks
On Thursday, the Daily Caller broke the story that the FBI, who previously refused to recommend charges be brought against Hillary Clinton amid her email scandal, is now investigating the Clinton Foundation with the support of U.S. attorneys in New York.
The Clinton Foundation’s main offices are in New York, and the move to work with local prosecutors there is a departure from the FBI’s previous, centralized investigations, which coordinated with the Department of Justice.
A senior law enforcement official, who has intimate knowledge of FBI activity, told the Daily Caller that the 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.”
New York’s Southern District counts Wall Street within its jurisdiction, and the man who heads that office, Preet Bharara, has built a reputation on targeting big money players awash in fraud and corruption.
Bharara has in the past gone after big banks — such as Citibank and Bank of America — and politicians, like State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Such efforts have garnered him much praise, as highlighted by the Daily Mail:
Bharara’s pursuit of insider trading cases beginning in 2009 earned him a Time magazine cover and the title of ‘top cop’ to Wall Street.
The varied and continued data dumps associated with the Clinton email scandal, which have revealed, among other things, deception, coercion, and a pay-to-play scheme involving donors — not to mention an organized attempt by the DNC to sabotage the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders — have severely hampered Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.
After FBI Director James Comey’s press conference on July 5, in which he recommended no charges be filed against Clinton despite her “extremely careless” use of a private email server, many were left wondering if the FBI was, in fact, actively protecting Clinton from prosecution.
This theory would seem to be in question, however, now that the agency is going around the Justice Department and working with a federal attorney with a reputation for taking down corrupt heavyweights. Indeed, it is curious that the FBI would suddenly sidestep the DOJ a month after it effectively let Hillary Clinton off the hook.
Were the FBI’s hands tied by the Justice Department the first time around?
Is the evidence of corruption within the Clinton shadow now simply too great to ignore?
Are questions surrounding Hillary’s health giving the establishment an opportunity to take out a divisive figurehead for good?
Or is James Comey going rogue?
This last question, if ever affirmed, would perhaps be most profound of all. Because Comey’s ties to the Clintons go back decades, and — as we’ll see — it’s a relationship that has had the now-director of the FBI acting as protector of the dynastic family time and time again.
THE CLINTONS’ KNIGHT
Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment.
It could easily be assumed these words were written in the days following FBI Director James Comey’s decision in July not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton. While claiming the FBI found no intent of wrongdoing, the director nonetheless delivered a scathing assessment of Clinton and her staff’s use of a private email server to transmit classified information.
But the words are, in actuality, from a TIME article published back in March of this year. And they aren’t in reference to the email controversy. They’re addressing a scandal from the 1990s many will likely be familiar with — Whitewater.
Much of the hard truth in the case would become obscured once the Monica Lewinsky distraction was thrown into the mix, but at its heart the Whitewater investigation centered on failed real estate investments by Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates.
And because the subject is now so heavily associated with Bill, a blue dress and a cigar, most would be shocked to discover just how close Hillary came to having charges brought against her during the Whitewater inquiry — to the point where a draft for her indictment had been written.
From a July 9 article in the Washington Post:
As in the email controversy of today, Clinton’s honesty was a central question facing investigators in 1998 as they weighed whether what they saw as shifting stories from Clinton amounted to an attempt to cover up misconduct.
And a young James Comey was one of those investigators. Writes TIME:
Looking to get back into government after a stint in private practice, Comey signed on as deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee.
Following law school, Comey had served as clerk for a federal judge before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York — yes, the same office Preet Bharara is, at the urging of Comey’s FBI, now using to go after Clinton — as a prosecutor in 1987. As we’ll see, Comey’s association with the Southern District will prove highly beneficial to the Clintons.
In the end, and not at all surprisingly, no charges were brought against then-President Bill Clinton and his wife for their involvement in the Whitewater affair. Several of their associates were convicted, however, of crimes including fraud, tax evasion, and embezzlement. Fortunately — at least for a handful — Slick Willy managed to slide them a pardon in the last hours of his presidency.
And the issue of pardons brings us to the next chapter in the Clinton-Comey relationship.
THE “KING OF OIL”
Marc Rich was a pioneering oil mogul in the 70s and 80s who, as a boy, escaped the wrath of the Nazis by fleeing Belgium with his family and relocating to the United States. After years in Missouri, the family ended up living in New York, where Rich would learn the ropes of the international commodities game.
He would go on to become the most successful — and notorious — businessman and trader of his time. He was so dominant in his field, in fact, that peers came to call him the “King of Oil.”
Rich was also, according to the federal government of the United States, a criminal who had no qualms about dealing with America’s enemies. Wrote Reuters in 2013 upon Rich’s death at 78:
To his critics he was a white-collar criminal, a serial sanctions breaker, whom they accused of building a fortune trading with revolutionary Iran, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, apartheid-era South Africa, Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania, Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Augusto Pinochet’s Chile.
In 1983, Rich was indicted on 65 counts of, among other things, tax evasion and racketeering. Facing a potential life sentence in prison, Rich fled to Switzerland. He would remain on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for years.
Miraculously, however, Rich was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001, on his last day in office — yes, the same day he pardoned his old Whitewater associates.
Among the more glaringly questionable details surrounding the pardon are the fact that Rich’s ex-wife had donated $450,000 to the Clinton Presidential Library — as well as thousands more to Bill’s defense fund during the Whitewater hearings — and the allegations that then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder facilitated the pardon using underhanded methods in exchange for promises of becoming Attorney General in an Al Gore administration.
The Justice Department immediately set up an inquiry to look into the Clinton pardons, which numbered 176 in total. Originally, U.S. Attorney for — you guessed it — the Southern District of New York, Mary Jo White, had been appointed to lead the investigation. White stepped down before the conclusion of the inquiry, however, and was replaced — rather conveniently — by then-U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia James Comey.
As it happens, Comey was one the prosecutors who’d helped successfully convict Marc Rich fifteen years before. So it was with intimate knowledge of Rich’s criminality that Comey would later tell Congress how “stunned” he was by the pardon of the oil magnate.
Despite this — not to mention the overwhelming evidence of bribery and shady dealings regarding the Clinton pardons — Comey nonetheless determined in 2002 that no criminal wrongdoing by the Clintons had occurred.
In February of 2002, former United States diplomat Joseph C. Wilson was sent on a CIA-funded trip to Niger to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium. Upon returning to Washington, D.C., Wilson reported to the CIA that there was little evidence that such a transaction took place.
Not surprisingly, Wilson was taken aback upon hearing President Bush say in the 2003 State of the Union Address that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
In response, Wilson wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in July of 2003, titled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” From that article:
Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
A week after Wilson’s article was published, conservative columnist Robert Novak ran a piece outing Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative and the person who recommended Wilson for the Niger assignment. Novak cited two senior Bush administration staffers as sources of the leak. It would later be revealed that those sources were State Department official Richard Armitage, acting as the primary, and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who confirmed.
There was much speculation at the time that the Bush officials went rogue as revenge for Wilson’s op-ed in which he contradicted the president’s claims. Within months of Novak’s article, the Justice Department had opened an investigation as to who had blown Valerie Plame’s cover.
To avoid the appearance of partiality, Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case — which paved the way for the number two man, James Comey, to step into the top spot.
As a Bush appointee, Comey also desired — seemingly — to avoid the appearance of bias. So, amid calls for an independent investigation, Comey appointed a federal attorney out of Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, to handle the affair.
Fitzgerald, by the way, was a good friend of Comey’s — and godfather to one of his children.
Some viewed the appointment as troubling, but the case proceeded. In the end, no one was charged for the leak, itself. Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, however, who testified during the trial, was convicted of perjury and obstruction.
Libby, who’d been made privy to Plame’s role as a CIA operative by the vice president prior to Novak’s article being published, is thought by another witness in the case, reporter Judith Miller, to have fallen on his sword to protect Cheney.
The whole affair came to be known as “Plamegate.” From a 2007 NBC report, following Libby’s conviction:
The trial revealed that top members of the administration were eager to discredit Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Plame and her husband — who, incidentally, was a Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton in the 90s — have been Clinton supporters for nearly two decades. In an April 2015 op-ed the couple co-authored for USA Today, Plame and Wilson wrote:
We have known Hillary Clinton both professionally and personally for nearly 20 years, dating back to before President Bill Clinton’s first trip to Africa in 1998 — a trip they both acknowledge changed their lives, and gave considerable meaning to their post-White House years and to the activities of the Clinton Foundation.
They go on to state that, in the midst of the scandal, “Hillary reached out to us. Her counsel during that tumultuous period was as timely as it was wise.”
A Daily Caller article published in January of this year further highlighted the close ties between the Clintons and Wilson, who, since leaving political life, has worked as an advisor to development groups in Africa. Citing ongoing email dumps, the article states:
One of Hillary Clinton’s most frequent favor-seekers when she was secretary of state was former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a longtime Clinton friend, an endorser of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and an Africa expert with deep business ties to the continent.
The article goes on to explain that, in most of the cases, Wilson’s requests were met — which amounted to considerable paydays for the former Bill Clinton assistant.
Given these facts, one could be forgiven for finding it odd that James Comey — who’d by then proven himself thoroughly dependable in Clinton-related matters — ended up being the man in charge of the Plamegate investigation. Odder still, one might think, that the godfather of one of Comey’s children was appointed — by Comey himself — to conduct the trial.
Remember, the theory at the time was that the Republican establishment was going after Joseph Wilson because he dared to challenge the word of President Bush. It was retaliation. So it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the staunchly Democratic Clintons — in an equally retaliatory measure — would protect their friend Wilson, and activate the trusted James Comey to do it.
And it worked. Plamegate saw Vice President Dick Cheney lose his chief of staff and longtime ally, “Scooter” Libby.
In July of 2004, the news broke that the Justice Department was investigating former Clinton aide Sandy Berger over allegations he removed and even destroyed classified material from the National Archives while acting as the Clinton administration’s hand-selected official in charge of reviewing documents for the independent commission on 9/11.
Berger, who served as national security advisor to Bill Clinton for all of the president’s second term, was reportedly observed acting in a secretive and highly suspicious manner while in the archives. Wrote CNN in 2004:
Law enforcement sources said archive staff members told FBI agents they saw Berger placing items in his jacket and pants, and one archive staffer told agents that Berger also placed something in his socks.
The investigation had actually been going on since October of the previous year, but that fact wasn’t made public until days before the commission was set to release its final report — prompting many to speculate the move was political in nature, a way for the Bush administration to avert attention away from the commission’s inevitably damning conclusions.
“The timing of this leak suggests that the White House is more concerned about protecting its political hide than hearing what the commission has to say about strengthening our security,” the campaign of then-presidential hopeful John Kerry said in a statement.
But others had more serious concerns. Some were asking if Berger, the longtime Clinton loyalist, had been sent into the archives not to prevent damaging information about 9/11 from reaching the commission, but rather, to destroy material that could potentially be harmful to the Clinton dynasty down the road.
Such as, say, Hillary Clinton’s attempts at the Oval Office.
In any case, Berger was floated a sweetheart deal by the Justice Department in 2005. For charges that could’ve seen him behind bars, Berger was fined $50,000 and forced to give up his security clearance for three years.
The Deputy Attorney General in charge of that case? James Comey.
“As a general matter, we take issues of classified information very seriously,” Comey told reporters in 2004.
Just not so seriously — as his findings in the current email scandal prove — when they involve a Clinton.
Interestingly, Berger was named an advisor to Hillary in her failed 2008 bid for the White House — a move that, quite understandably, raised a considerable number of eyebrows at the time. Additionally, a State Department email dump in 2015 revealed that Berger was advising then-Secretary of State Clinton — albeit far more secretly — as recently as 2009.
With data dumps coming fast and furious, and with a new investigation underway, there’s no telling what will be revealed about Hillary Clinton, her network of associates, or the Clinton Foundation in the days ahead. But if the past is any indicator, none of it will be good.
And there’s so much more than emails to consider. The information presented here highlights a pattern of protection given to a political behemoth by a strategically-placed operative. But this is merely one facet of a much larger, and much older, system at play.
Within the last two weeks alone, Underground Reporter has written on both the recent spike in the so-called “Clinton body count” and the revelation that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich may very well be the source behind Wikileaks’ DNC leak — a suggestion made by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that had one Clinton strategist immediately calling for his death.
Consider, for instance, that Cheryl Mills, who was Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff at the State Department — and who is now under scrutiny for working for the Clinton Foundation, which she’s currently on the board of, while on State Department time — attempted to destroy Clinton-related emails back in 2015. A judge had to issue an order to prevent her from doing so.
Consider that Mills at one time worked for the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, a New York partner of which prepared tax returns for the Clintons. The firm also did patent work for the software company that created email encryption for the very server at the heart of the Clinton email scandal.
Interestingly, Sandy Berger — the Clinton bag man who destroyed classified documents in the National Archives —worked for years at Hogan & Hartson as well.
Consider also that United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch — who, as it was recently revealed, refused to sanction an investigation into the Clinton Foundation even after three separate FBI field offices made requests —also worked at Hogan & Hartson.
Consider further that the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, which appears to be connected to the Clintons at every turn, was also one of Hillary’s biggest donors in the legal industry during her first bid for the White House.
Consider that it was Lynch, then the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of the New York, who signed off a sweetheart deal for banking giant HSBC, which allowed it to skate with a paltry fine in a massive money-laundering case. And while you’re at it, consider that the Clinton Foundation has received over $81 million in “donations” from HSBC clients.
And consider that months after the HSBC deal was struck by Loretta Lynch, James Comey joined the controversial bank’s board of directors. He would remain there until his appointment as Director of the FBI in 2013 — just in time to prepare for the hurricane that would be the Clinton email scandal.
Consider all these connections — and consider those we can’t yet see.
The FBI’s decision to initiate an investigation into the Clinton Foundation raises many questions, to be sure. But at this point, all the public can really do is speculate. There is, however, one conclusion that can be definitively made.
With the FBI led by a man who has continuously protected the Clintons for nearly two decades going around the DOJ and opening a criminal probe — spearheaded by a man with a reputation for being tough on corrupt elites — into the Clinton Foundation, something, however ambiguous it might be at the moment, has unquestionably changed.
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