MYSTERY: FBI Surprises With Files on Clinton '01 Pardon of Marc Rich...
As reported moments ago, in what appears to have been a surprise release, the FBI's Vault twitter account released 129 pages of files related to the FBI's 2001 prove into Bill Clinton's 2001 pardon of Marc Rich. And while NBC reported that the files were releases as part of a normal subpoena, the increasingly paranoid (not without reason) Clinton campaign immediately had questions. According to Politico, "Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign raised questions about the timing of the FBI’s release Tuesday of records on a 15-year-old investigation into President Bill Clinton’s pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich."
The FBI posted the 129 pages of records in its online Freedom of Information Act reading room in apparent response to a FOIA request seeking information on FBI inquiries into the Clinton Foundation. On the website, the release was dated Monday, but an FBI Twitter account flagged the new posting at noon on Tuesday.
As Politico adds, the Clinton campaign, which is already at odds with FBI Director James Comey over his disclosure of new evidence in the Clinton email probe, immediately questioned why Clinton-related records were being released just a week before the election.
“Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump’s housing discrimination in ’70s?” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon asked on Twitter.
When reached by Politico, spokespeople for the FBI and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to questions about whether there were any lawsuits seeking the newly posted material or whether a judge had set a deadline for its disclosure.
Despite the lack of major revelations in the documents, which constitute only a part of the FBI’s files on the inquiry, the atmospherics in the records are unhelpful to the Clinton campaign. The records repeatedly refer to the probe being handled by the “Public Corruption Unit” and make clear that the FBI was examining claims that Denise Rich’s Democratic Party “donations may have been intended to influence the fugitive’s pardon.”
“It appears that the required pardon standards and procedures were not followed,” the internal FBI memos said.
Indeed, the request for a pardon for Marc Rich and his business partner, Pincus Green, did not go through normal channels at the Justice Department but was sent directly to the White House. However, presidents are free to grant executive clemency outside the Justice Department channel and many presidents have done so.
The investigation was eventually handed off to Comey, who was White's successor as U.S. attorney. Comey elected not to seek any charges in the case.
So purely a coincidence? Or an internal message sent from FBI staffers, and if so addressed to whom: Clinton or Comey?