Secret recordings of a suspect talking about the Clinton Foundation fueled an internal battle between FBI agents who wanted to pursue the case and corruption prosecutors who viewed the statements as worthless hearsay, people familiar with the matter said.
Agents, using informants and recordings from unrelated corruption investigations, thought they had found enough material to merit aggressively pursuing the investigation into the foundation that started in summer 2015 based on claims made in a book by a conservative author called “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” these people said.
The account of the case and resulting dispute comes from interviews with officials at multiple agencies.
These details on the probe are emerging amid the continuing furor surrounding FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure to Congress that new emails had emerged that could be relevant to a separate, previously closed FBI investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement while she was secretary of state.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama took the unusual step of criticizing the FBI when asked about Mr. Comey’s disclosure of the emails.
Amid the internal finger-pointing on the Clinton Foundation matter, some have blamed the FBI’s No. 2 official, deputy director Andrew McCabe, claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.
Who’s Andrew McCabe, you ask? Just a senior official at the FBI, to whom the Clintons funneled — via family bagman and current Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe — the tidy sum of $675,000 for McCabe’s wife’s losing campaign for a Virginia state senate campaign. McCage is the same guy who recently urged FBI agents to “stand down” from their Foundation investigation.
In other words, all the appearances of a classic gangland operation, with money for nothing masquerading as a “campaign contribution” for a seat that pays just $18,000 a year.
Much of the skepticism toward the case came from how it started—with the publication of a book suggesting possible financial misconduct and self-dealing surrounding the Clinton charity. The author of that book, Peter Schweizer—a former speechwriting consultant for President George W. Bush—was interviewed multiple times by FBI agents, people familiar with the matter said.
The Clinton campaign has long derided the book as a poorly researched collection of false claims and unsubstantiated assertions. The Clinton Foundation has denied any wrongdoing, saying it does immense good throughout the world. Mr. Schweizer said in an interview that the book was never meant to be a legal document, but set out to describe “patterns of financial transactions that circled around decisions Hillary Clinton was making as secretary of state.”
Decide for yourself: