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Clinton controversy consumes FBI

The Fox News anchor apologizes for what he calls ‘inartful’ use of words and a ‘mistake’

Fox News host Bret Baier Associated Press/Photo by Carlos Osorio (file)

Clinton controversy consumes FBI

UPDATE (11/04/16, 2:50 p.m.): Bret Baier of Fox News is backing down from his claim that sources had told him that an indictment was likely in the FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation.

“That just wasn’t inartful,” Baier said today. “It was a mistake and for that I’m sorry. I should have said they will continue to build their case. ‘Indictment,’ obviously, is a very loaded word … especially in this atmosphere, and no one knows if there would or would not be an indictment, no matter how strong investigators feel their evidence is. It’s obviously a prosecutor who has to agree to take the case and make that case to the grand jury.”

UPDATE (2:42 p.m.): Bret Baier of Fox News reports two sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation are saying that an indictment is “likely” in connection with alleged “pay-for-play” activities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Sources said the white-collar crime division is leading the investigation, which is far more expansive than previously reported.

FBI sources also told Fox that investigators are 99 percent certain at least five foreign intelligence services successfully hacked into Clinton’s private email server.

Agents are reportedly combing through laptop contents of close Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson and are planning a third round of interviews with some witnesses.

OUR EARLIER REPORT: WASHINGTON—A series of Wall Street Journal reports has exposed a bitter split at the FBI over how to handle multiple Clinton family–related investigations.

The latest report, released late Wednesday, details FBI infighting about an investigation into possible corruption connected to the Clinton Foundation, the charity started by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea Clinton.

The probe began in 2015 after Peter Schweizer published his best-selling book Clinton Cash, which found patterns of favorable decisions for foreign donors to the foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state (the foundation denies any impropriety). Although investigating agents felt the case showed promise, some FBI brass and public-corruption prosecutors at the Justice Department remained skeptical.

At the heart of the disagreement was how much credence to give secret recordings of a suspect from a separate investigation who talked about Clinton Foundation activities. Investigators wanted to pursue the information, but Justice Department officials dismissed it as hearsay.

Also at issue is the involvement of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the agency’s No. 2 official. Competing leaks indicate McCabe is either fighting for agents to continue their work or seeking to end the probe.

The Clinton Foundation controversy is running parallel to Democratic criticism over FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and notify Congress. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama took the unusual step of joining the criticism, saying, “We don’t operate on incomplete information.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate a range of potential conflicts of interest at the agency. Grassley first cited Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s ties to the Clintons and her June meeting with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Phoenix.

Among other things, Grassley also noted that last year McCabe’s wife Jill reportedly received more than $675,000 in political donations for a Virginia state Senate run from the Virginia Democratic Party and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a long-time Clinton ally. (McAuliffe says he was only helping elect a Democrat who would advance his agenda.)

Grassley also expressed concerns over Peter Kadzik, who is head of the FBI’s office of legislative affairs and in charge of communicating with Congress about the renewed Clinton email investigation. Kadzik is a close friend of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, to whom he gave a “heads up” about an upcoming congressional hearing last year, according to new emails released by WikiLeaks.

“The American people deserve to know whether political considerations have improperly affected the handling of this inquiry and understand why key officials failed to recuse themselves to protect the public’s confidence in a fair and impartial inquiry based on merits and the evidence rather than on politics,” Grassley wrote in the letter to Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The FBI controversies come as Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are locked in a tightening race for the White House as voters prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday.

J.C. Derrick J.C. is a former reporter and editor for WORLD.


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