Attorney General Loretta Lynch has blocked the FBI from opening up a public investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
According to a CNN report on Wednesday, the FBI sent the Justice Department a request earlier in the year, but the DOJ insisted the FBI cease any investigative activity associated with the Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton Foundation was not part of the recent investigation into her private server; it was separate. The FBI went to Justice Department earlier this year asking for it to open a case into the foundation, but the public integrity unit declined. The Justice Department had looked into whether it should open a case on the foundation a year prior and found it didn’t have sufficient evidence to do so.
Opposition to the FBI’s request — if the report is accurate — is likely to raise even more questions about whether the DOJ is acting impartially. Attorney General Loretta Lynch came under fire last month after it was revealed that she met in secret on her government airplane with Bill Clinton in late June.
The meeting occurred days before the FBI and DOJ were set to interview Hillary Clinton as part of its investigation into whether Clinton or her aides mishandled classified information by using a private email system.
Lynch has insisted that she did not discuss the investigation with the former president. It has also been reported that the Clinton campaign has considered asking Lynch to remain as attorney general if Hillary Clinton is elected president.
FBI Director James Comey declined last month to say whether an investigation into the Clinton Foundation was underway.
Clinton’s campaign spokesman Brian Fallon recently said that there is “no evidence” that the Clinton Foundation is or was under investigation.
Though the DOJ decided not to pursue a public integrity investigation, new questions about the Clinton Foundation were raised on Tuesday after the watchdog group Judicial Watch released a new set of emails showing that a top adviser for the non-profit asked Clinton’s State Department aides to help out several individuals — including a major Clinton Foundation and a close associate.
The Clinton Foundation official was Doug Band. He has worked for Bill Clinton for years and now runs the consulting firm Teneo Strategies.
In an April 25, 2009 email, Band asked Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills to help put Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury in touch with the State Department’s “substance person” on issues related to Lebanon.
Chagoury, a longtime Clinton donor who was once a close associate of Nigerian dictator Sani Abache, has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. In 2009 he pledged $1 billion to help with a project undertaken by the Clinton Global Initiative, a Clinton Foundation offshoot which Band helped advise.
“This is very important,” Band said in his request to Mills and Abedin. “He’s key guy there and to us.”
In another April 2009 email, Band forwarded an email to Mills, Abedin and another Clinton aide, Nora Toiv, entitled “A favor.”
The individual seemingly asked for a job with the State Department.
“Important to take care of [redacted],” Band wrote.
On April 29, 2009, Band emailed the same trio of advisers asking: “Can someone pls call [redacted]? He calls me every day and we owe him some attention.”
It is unclear who the individual was, but Abedin told Band that she would place the call. Band’s remark that “we owe him some attention” suggests that the functions of the Clinton Foundation overlapped with the State Department.
Abedin and Toiv later landed a job at Band’s firm, Teneo.
The Clinton campaign denied to CNN that the Band emails were evidence of collusion between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
“Neither of these emails involve the secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work,” Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin told the network. “They are communications between her aides and the President’s personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was for one of the Secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the Foundation.”
Notably, Schwerin’s comment does not address Band’s request on behalf of Chagoury, the major Clinton Foundation donor.