A Department of Justice official who is overseeing the reopened Hillary Clinton email investigation has a close relationship with Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, leaked emails show. Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik, who notified Congress on Monday that the agency would “dedicate all necessary resources” to the investigation, appears to have a major conflict of interest in the case.
Emails made public by WikiLeaks over the past several weeks raise fresh questions about the Justice Department’s handling of an investigation into a case with such close ties to the agency’s leadership. Just one week before FBI Director James Comey closed the original Clinton email probe in July, Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s private meeting with Clinton’s husband sparked a wave of outrage that ultimately clouded the Justice Department’s decision to end the investigation.
In 2008, Podesta raved about Kadzik to Cassandra Butts, a member of President Obama’s transition team, and noted Kadzik was “willing to help” with vetting for Obama’s Cabinet.
“Fantastic lawyer. Kept me out of jail,” Podesta wrote of Kadzik.
Kadzik and Podesta, who were classmates at Georgetown Law School in the 1970s, are in frequent contact. The leaked emails show them discussing plans to celebrate Podesta’s birthday, and arranging other social get-togethers. Podesta had dinner with Kadzik and some other well-connected friends the day after Hillary Clinton testified in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi in October of 2015, in fact.
Kadzik also had dinner with Podesta at his home on Jan. 12, 2016, while the first Clinton email probe was well underway. Kadzik emailed Podesta: “We on?” Podesta replied, “Yes sorry. 7:30 at our place.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 1, 2016
Kadzik helped keep Podesta out of jail in 1998 when independent counsel Kenneth Starr was investigating him for his role in helping Bill Clinton’s former intern and girlfriend Monica Lewinsky land a job at the United Nations.
As deputy chief of staff to Clinton in 1996, Podesta asked then-United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson to hire the 23-year-old Lewinsky.
In April 1996, the White House transferred Lewinsky from her job as a White House intern to the Pentagon in order to keep her and Bill Clinton separate. But the Clinton team also wanted to keep Lewinsky happy so that she would not spill the beans about her sexual relationship with Clinton.
Richardson later recounted in his autobiography that he offered Lewinsky the position but that she declined it.
Podesta made false statements to a grand jury impaneled by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr for the investigation. But he defended the falsehoods, saying later that he was merely relaying false information from Clinton that he did not know was inaccurate at the time.
“He did lie to me,” Podesta said about Clinton in a National Public Radio interview in 1998. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate in Feb. 1999 of perjury and obstruction of justice charges related to the Lewinsky probe.
Kadzik, then a lawyer with the firm Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, represented Podesta through the fiasco.
Fox News reported:
Kadzik had been an attorney with Dickstein Shapiro LLP for 18 years before he represented Podesta in the Clinton/Lewinsky investigation. He was hired in 2000 as a lobbyist for tax cheat Marc Rich, who was controversially granted a pardon by President Bill Clinton during Clinton’s final days in office. Kadzik got the job “because he was ‘trusted by [White House Chief of Staff John] Podesta,’ and was considered to be a ‘useful person to convey [Marc Rich’s] arguments to Mr. Podesta,’” according to a 2002 House Oversight Committee report.
Podesta and Kadzik kept up their relationship after Kadzik was appointed to the DOJ. In a May 5, 2015 email, Kadzik’s son, PJ, wrote to Podesta seeking a job on Hillary Clinton’s newly launched presidential campaign.
“I have always aspired to work on a presidential campaign, and have been waiting for some time now for Hilary [sic] to announce so that I can finally make this aspiration a reality,” PJ Kadzik wrote.
Podesta said he would “check around,” but it’s unclear what came of the request.
The Kadzik conflict of interest is not the only one to have been noticed in recent weeks.
Andrew McCabe, second in command at the FBI, has come under scrutiny for the campaign donations his wife received from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton ally.
Some Republicans are now charging that the Obama DOJ is nothing more than a cover-up operation for corrupt Democrats.
“There is public information that the Justice Department is protecting the Clinton Foundation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton Tuesday morning on Fox and Friends.
“Right now there’s a cover-up going on within the Obama Justice Department and the FBI about what the Clinton Foundation has been up to with these pay to play scams which has been confirmed essentially by WikiLeaks, and we’ve been exposing for almost a year at Judicial Watch,” he said.
Fitton reminisced about how the politicized DOJ handled the IRS targeting scandal.
“An under-reported aspect of the IRS scandal is that the Justice Department reached out to the IRS and asked, ‘how is it that we can prosecute the very groups you’re suppressing?'” he said.
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch in July of 2015 revealed that Lois Lerner and officials from the DOJ and FBI met in October 2010 to plot the possible criminal prosecution of targeted nonprofit organizations for alleged illegal political activity. “They wanted to go after donors,” Fitton said. “They were thinking of creative ways to put Obama’s opponents in jail. And this is the same Justice Department that is looking the other way on the Clinton Foundation.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy,R.-S.C., meanwhile said on “Fox & Friends” that he wasn’t concerned about any potential conflicts of interest. “Peter Kadzik is not a decision maker, he is a messenger,” Gowdy said.