Just as an FBI probe looking into the Clinton Foundation was gaining steam, officials from the Department of Justice reportedly ordered the investigators to “stand down” that area of inquiry.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that tensions between the FBI and DOJ began in February, when agents laid out to Justice Department lawyers what they believed was a possible “pay for play” case against the foundation.
The agents presented evidence at that meeting suggesting that major Clinton Foundation donors were granted special treatment and favors from the Clinton State Department. The Justice Department lawyers at that meeting disagreed, thought the case was weak and wanted the investigation shut dow.
FBI investigators with open files on the foundation — at offices in New York, Little Rock, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — were reportedly told to “stand down” their probe.
Questions about special favors to foundation donors began surfacing with the publication of “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer, and, in part, prompted the FBI’s investigation, according to The Journal.
The Daily Caller reported:
While “Clinton Cash” was a catalyst for the investigation, some FBI agents believed that the case had advanced well past the book.
That additional evidence included details culled from at least two confidential informants and a secret recording of a suspect in a public corruption case.
While agents who listened to the recordings were not sure of the accuracy of the statements, they believed the lead was worth pursuing, sources told The Journal. But DOJ prosecutors believed that the new evidence did not merit advanced investigative tools such as the use of a grand jury. The suspect who was recorded did not work for the Clinton Foundation.
Relations between the Justice Department and the FBI deteriorated when DOJ lawyers received word that agents continued working the case despite the stand down order.
Those reports prompted an August 12 phone call from a Justice Department official to FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.
“Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” McCabe asked, according to The Journal.
“Of course not,” the senior DOJ official replied.
Tension between the Department and the Bureau shifted into overdrive Friday when FBI Director James Comey announced that he was re-opening the investigation against Hillary Clinton on the use of her private email account to conduct official business while serving as secretary of State.
Fox News reported Wednesday that the Clinton Foundation investigation is now a “very high priority” — despite the reported stand down order.
In February, at about the time of the meeting between FBI and DOJ officials, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that each person under investigation is handled the same way.
“There’s no double standard in this or any other matter being handled by the Department of Justice,” she said.
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H/T: The Daily Caller
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