House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who told The Washington Post this week that Hillary Clinton would face “years” of potential probes if she won the presidency, has asked FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to provide documents about his wife's 2015 campaign for Senate — a campaign that received financial support from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a close Clinton ally. Chaffetz also tweeted Friday that the FBI would examine new emails related to the investigation into Clinton's use of a private server.
“There are outstanding questions . . . regarding a possible conflict of interest into this case,” Chaffetz said in the letter. To investigate the questions, Chaffetz requested documents related to “when you first became aware the State Department was pressuring the FBI to reverse its decision regarding the classification of one of Secretary Clinton's emails,” and “when you first became aware the FBI had opened an investigation into Secretary Clinton's email server,” with a deadline of Nov. 10, two days after the general election.
On Monday, Chaffetz told The Post that the McCabe story might well deserve a look from his committee, and that he had given details about it to Oversight investigators. “It seems like an obscene amount of money for a losing race,” Chaffetz said. In a statement Friday, the Oversight Committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), described the request as politically motivated.
“This latest letter really goes off the deep end in terms of promoting Donald Trump’s debunked conspiracy theories and waging offensive political attacks against honorable public servants,” Cummings said. “It is a shame that even a dime of taxpayer funds is being spent on this latest desperate attempt to help Trump at the polls.”
Chaffetz's request grew out of an Oct. 23 Wall Street Journal report on McAuliffe's support for Jill McCabe. The candidate, who had never run for office until 2015, was seen as one of the strongest Democratic contenders to tip the balance of the Virginia Senate. McAuliffe, one of the Democratic Party's best fundraisers long before he became governor, raised millions of dollars for his Common Good VA PAC, $467,500 of which went to back McCabe. On June 25, 2015, Clinton herself appeared at a Common Good VA fundraiser that netted $1 million, a fact that conservative media outlets have cited to ask whether there was a quid pro quo.
But the FBI's probe of Clinton's use of a private server did not begin until July 10, 2015, after the fundraiser. Jill McCabe was recruited to run for the seat in March 2015, before the New York Times revealed that Clinton had used a private server. Andrew McCabe was not promoted to his current role until February 2016, after his wife had been defeated. In a statement after the Wall Street Journal article, the FBI insisted that "[Andrew] McCabe and FBI lawyers implemented a system of recusal from all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics, a process followed for the remainder of her campaign.”
That did not quiet Republicans, who asked for more information about the McCabes. On the stump, Trump added the story to his litany of reasons that Clinton was “crooked.” Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun), who defeated Jill McCabe, called for the FBI deputy director to resign, saying that his career at the bureau had “taken off” since the 2015 campaign. “The last eight years of Democrat rule led to politicization and distrust of the nation's leading law enforcement agency — the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Black said.
Around the same time, the Virginia Republican Party filed a Freedom of Information Act request, demanding “any and all communications” from McAuliffe's office about the McCabe campaign.
“Given the chance to put a few favors in the bank at the FBI for Clinton Inc., Governor McAuliffe jumped at the chance,” said Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck. “The fact that both he and Hillary Clinton fell under FBI investigation proves just what a wise investment this was.”
Chaffetz's letter goes further than either complaint, with a timeline that attempts to raise questions about when McCabe might have encountered the possibility of a Clinton probe. In it, he notes that Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy was in touch with the FBI about the classification of Clinton emails in “April and May,” and that the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community contacted the FBI on June 25, about classified information that had not been redacted in the emails.