Hillary Clinton presidential campaign 2016

February 12, 2019 – FEC still refuses to investigate alleged $84 million Clinton campaign money laundering

“Tuesday evening the Committee to Defend the President (CDP) filed a motion in a D.C. federal court seeking to supplement the complaint it had filed against the Federal Election Committee (FEC) in April 2018. In its original complaint, the CDP alleged that the agency responsible for enforcing campaign-finance law failed to act on an administrative complaint the CDP had filed with the FEC. That complaint charged that, during the 2016 presidential election, Democrats illegally funneled approximately $84 million through the Hillary Victory Fund to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which then illegally coordinated with the Hillary Clinton campaign.

(…) In last night’s filing, the CDP tells the district court that its request to supplement its complaint will not affect the court’s consideration of the question of standing. Rather, the CDP merely seeks to update its allegations concerning the FEC’s delay, to “allege that, for more than a year, the FEC has completely failed to complete its adjudication of, or even make a ‘reason to believe’ finding concerning CDP’s Administrative Complaint.”

In briefing filed with its motion to supplement the complaint, the CDP stresses that “in determining whether the FEC’s delay in addressing the Administrative Complaint is ‘unlawful,’ one of the most important factors this Court must consider is the length of time it has been pending before the agency.” Thus, the CDP argues, “in determining whether the FEC’s ‘failure to act is contrary to law,’ the pertinent time period should now be over one year, rather than four months,” and the court should allow it to update the complaint accordingly.

Whether the district court will agree is another matter: The court might well conclude that there is no need to update the complaint merely to state that more time has passed since its filing. It is equally plausible, though, that the court will allow the supplemental filing as innocuous. The FEC ultimately consent the filing of the supplemental complaint.

Dan Backer (Credit: DB Capitol Strategies)

These procedural machinations, however, serve solely as a sideshow to the real news: The FEC is not doing its job. That is likely what prompted Dan Backer, the D.C.-based attorney representing the CDP, to push for supplementing the complaint—to expose the FEC’s inexcusable inaction.

“It’s outrageous that the FEC has sat around and done nothing – especially with such a detailed, comprehensive paper trail handed to them,” Backer told The Federalist. “It smacks of the same Deep State culture that shielded April Sand,” he said, in reference to the former FEC attorney “who played politics on the job,” by among other things “participat[ing] in a Huffington Post Live internet broadcast via webcam from an FEC facility, criticizing the Republican Party and then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney.” But Sand escaped criminal prosecution for violating the Hatch Act when the “Federal Election Commission recycled her hard drive before evidence could be recovered.”

Now for more than a year, the FEC has ignored its statutory duty to address the CDP’s administrative complaint that laid out solid evidence that during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and the state Democratic parties illegally laundered nearly $84 million in campaign contributions. “But they also don’t want anyone doing the job they refuse to do,” Backer said in reference to the FEC’s motion to dismiss the CPF’s lawsuit.” (Read more: The Federalist, 2/13/2019)

Former Attorney General Eric Holder says that Comey made “a serious mistake.”

Eric Holder (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Eric Holder (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Eric Holder, US attorney general from 2009 to 2015, writes an editorial in the Washington Post with the title: “James Comey is a good man, but he made a serious mistake.”

He writes, “I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition. … Director Comey broke with these fundamental principles. I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI. And he has allowed — again without improper motive — misinformation to be spread by partisans with less pure intentions.“

Holder continues, “This controversy has its roots in the director’s July [2016] decision to hold a news conference announcing his recommendation that the Justice Department bring no charges against Hillary Clinton.” He says, given that Attorney General Loretta Lynch recused herself from the case, instead of having Comey “publicly share his professional recommendation, as well as his personal opinions” about the case in a “a stunning breach of protocol,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates could have announced the final decision of the department, without Comey’s extensive public commentary.

Holder concludes, “I served with Jim Comey and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications.” (The Washington Post, 10/31/2016)

WikiLeaks publishes the first batch of emails belonging to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.

John Podesta (Credit: The Associated Press)

John Podesta (Credit: The Associated Press)

WikiLeaks publishes 2,060 emails it claims belong to John Podesta. Podesta is chair of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, as well as being chair of the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), and was once chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, as well as a top advisor to President Obama. WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange says the emails focus on Podesta’s “communications relating to nuclear energy, and media handling over donations to the Clinton Foundation from mining and nuclear interests.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016) (The Hill, 10/7/2016)

Tony Carrk (Credit: CSpan)

Tony Carrk (Credit: CSpan)

However, one email, sent by Clinton’s campaign research director Tony Carrk to Podesta and other Clinton aides on January 25, 2016, contains excerpts from dozens of Clinton’s private speeches, and draws most of the media attention. (Politico, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks labels the release as “Part I of the Podesta emails.” The emails date from 2007 to late March 2016. The next day, a WikiLeaks Tweet claims, “We have published 1% of the #PodestaEmails so far. Additional publications will proceed throughout the election period.” (WikiLeaks, 10/8/2016) (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016) Another Tweet claims therre are “well over 50,000” Podesta emails to be released. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks refuses to say where it got its material from, which is its usual policy. However, earlier in the day, the US intelligence community formally accused the Russian government of being behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, which were publicly posted by WikiLeaks as well.

Clinton’s campaign doesn’t confirm the authenticity of the emails, but doesn’t explicitly deny it either. However, Podesta comments that he is “not happy about being hacked by the Russians,” which indicates the emails are his. (Politico, 10/7/2016) (Politico, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks soon begins posting more of Podesta’s emails on a daily basis.

Clinton criticizes an Associated Press article about her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors.

On August 24, 2016, the Associated Press published an article that claims more than half of all the private citizens Clinton met with when she was secretary of state had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

In a CNN interview later that same day, Clinton says the article is “a lot of smoke and no fire.” She adds, “This AP report, put it in context. It excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders. That is absurd. These are people I was proud to meet with, who any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with.”

The Associated Press made clear at the start of the article that they were excluding meetings with US and foreign politicians, since those presumably would take place as part of her government duties anyway. (Politico, 8/24/2016)

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Clinton surrogates from left to right, Joel Benenson, Robby Mook, James Carville, Brian Fallon, and Donna Shalala. (Credit: all photos in public domain)

Clinton’s surrogates in the media also are very critical of the article. For instance, a Politico article about it later on the same day is entitled “Clinton camp rages against AP report.” The article notes that Clinton’s chief strategist Joel Benenson, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, long-time Clinton ally James Carville, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon, and Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala all make the same point in media interviews, that the Associated Press is “cherry-picking” by limiting its analysis to only private citizens who met with Clinton. They also assert that no wrongdoing on Clinton’s part was proven by the article. (Politico, 8/24/2016)

WikiLeaks plans to release “significant” information linked to Clinton’s presidential campaign before the November 2016 election.

When WikiLeaks head Julian Assange is asked if this information could be a “game-changer” in the election, he replies, “I think it’s significant. You know, it depends on how it catches fire in the public and in the media.”

He also says, “I don’t want to give the game away, but it’s a variety of documents, from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting, some even entertaining.” (Reuters, 8/24/2016)

The FBI formally acknowledges it is investigating the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack.

The FBI has been investigating the hack of the DNC and related political entities for months. For instance, the FBI warned the Clinton campaign they were the target of hacking attacks in March 2016. However, this is the first public admission of an investigation. An FBI spokesperson says the bureau will “investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.” This announcement comes three days after WikiLeaks publicly posted almost 20,000 emails from the DNC.

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Emblem of the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU) (Credit: public domain)

The Washington Post reports that according to unnamed ” individuals familiar with the investigation,” the FBI is focusing on the Russian military intelligence agency, known as the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije or GRU, and looking into if it was responsible for giving the emails to WikiLeaks. However, it is believed that the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti or FSB, broke into the DNC’s computers as well.

The FBI wants to determine with certainty whether the Russian government passed the emails to WikiLeaks. This is likely to involve other US intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and the CIA, which potentially could intercept communications or gather intelligence overseas.

If it is definitively proven that the Russians are responsible, then the US would have to consider what to do next. The Post comments, ” Responses could range from a diplomatic wrist slap or warning to countermeasures.” In 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked, and there were reports that the government of North Korea was responsible. The US government imposed economic sanctions on North Korea in response. President Obama also signed an executive order enabling US officials to impose economic sanctions in response to significant hacking attacks. (The Washington Post, 7/25/2016)

Democratic Party officials believe recent hacks are “far more widespread than initially thought.”

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Sample of DNC spreadsheet released by Wikileaks, titled “Boards and Commissions” listing generous DNC donors who are being considered for appointments to various Boards and Commissions. Donor email addresses and phone numbers were blacked out by thompsontimeline. (Credit: Wikileaks)

Yahoo News reports about the series of hacking attacks targeting the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Clinton campaign, and other US political targets starting in the summer of 2015 and continuing until at least June 2016. “Two sources familiar with the [DNC] breach said that the hackers’ reach was far more widespread than initially thought and includes personal data about big party contributors and internal ‘vetting’ evaluations that include embarrassing comments about their business dealings (as well as gossipy internal emails about the private affairs of DNC staffers). … Party officials are bracing for more damaging document dumps after Labor Day [September 7, 2016]. ‘They’re having to do serious damage control with the donors right now,’ said a party official familiar with the matter.”

Additionally, Yahoo News mentions, “There are also signs that the hackers have penetrated the personal email of some Clinton campaign staffers — at least those who were in communication with senior DNC staff members.” (Yahoo News, 7/25/2016)

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook suggests the Russian government is behind the release of DNC emails by WikiLeaks.

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Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook (Credit: Douglas Graham / Congressional Quarterly Roll Call Group)

On July 24, 2016, Mook says, “What’s disturbing about this entire situation is that experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC [Democratic National Committee], took all those emails, and are now leaking them out through these websites,” such as WikiLeaks. “It’s troubling that some experts are telling us this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping [Republican presidential nominee] Donald Trump.”

Mook also apologizes for the content of some emails, which show the DNC had a bias in favor of Clinton and against Senator Bernie Sanders, despite DNC rules that it should be neutral in the Democratic primaries. (The Hill, 7/24/2016)

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort calls Mook’s comments “pure obfuscation.” He adds, “What they don’t want to talk about is what’s in those emails.” (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)

Two days later, Mook makes similar accusations about Russia. He also says, “I think the timing around our convention was not a coincidence.” WikiLeaks released 20,000 DNC emails on June 22, 2016, just three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention. (The Hill, 7/26/2016)

Clinton won’t face punishment if she wins the presidency, but some of her former aides could.

Since Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, she is unlikely to face any punishment for her email practices, despite FBI Director James Comey calling her “extremely careless” with highly classified information. Once she officially becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, she will automatically get security briefings. If she wins the presidency in the November 2016 election, she won’t have to apply for a security clearance.

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William Cowden (Credit: public domain)

National security lawyer Gregory Greiner says that if a typical low-level government employee did what Clinton did, “he would have lost his clearance and lost his job.” William Cowden,  a former Justice Department lawyer, similar says, “If she were currently a federal employee, she would be sanctioned.” But Clinton isn’t currently employed in the government, and the FBI chose not to take away Clinton’s security clearance during their investigation into her email practices, even though that is routine in similar cases.

Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security employment law, says he is particularly interested to see whether Clinton’s former aides will get security clearances if she wins the presidency. “Having seen the hundreds of people I’ve represented over a 20-plus year career who have lost their clearances for doing far less” than Clinton and her top aides, “I’m going to be really, really bothered and troubled” if they come out unscathed in the security clearance process.

The Washington Post notes that “losing a security clearance often is the equivalent of being fired. In some agencies, all jobs or most of the good ones, require a security clearance. Many of the individual contractors who work for those agencies also must have a security clearance. If you lose it, you could lose the ability to work in your field.” (The Washington Post, 7/7/2016)

“Extremely careless” is said to be the “money quote” of FBI Director Comey’s speech, and could affect the presidential election.

A Washington Post news analysis comments, “Of the more than 2,000 words FBI Director James Comey said in his unusually detailed statement [on July 5, 2016] that all but cleared Hillary Clinton of criminal indictment over the long-running probe into her email, two in particular got the most attention. ‘Extremely careless,’ Comey’s phrase to describe Clinton and her colleagues’ handling of classified information, has been called the statement’s ‘money quote,’ perhaps the biggest headline of the statement other than its absence of recommended charges, and the one nearly certain to any minute now be put on repeat in ads for presumptive [Republican] nominee Donald Trump.”

The Post also notes that in national polls, Clinton rates very poorly on honesty and trustworthiness, butt high on competence. However, the “extremely careless” quote could be used by Trump to criticize Clinton on one of her greatest perceived strengths.

Furthermore, it’s possible that “Comey’s comment will simply bounce off Clinton’s long-cultivated armor of competence.” But it’s also possible that the phrase could leave a permanent mark on her reputation. “Coming from a law enforcement official who has served both political parties and not shied away from conflict with either, it bears plenty of weight.” (The Washington Post, 7/6/2016)