(This piece was first published by The Hill, where I am an Opinion Contributor.)
As the Justice Department puts it, former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been tasked to “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”
No effort should be spared in getting to the bottom of what actually occurred, and whether Russia presently seeks to interfere with our political process.
No investigation will be complete or credible, however, if it does not include a review of the relationship between the Russian government and its favored business entities with former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and political and business associates of the Clintons.
Unlike the inferences that have been made about President Trump and his campaign, many of which rely on rumor, innuendo, conspiracy theories and deliberate falsehoods, the Clintons’ extensive relationship with Russian interests has been documented and reported by some of the nation’s leading journalists.
For instance, an article in the April 23, 2015 New York Times by Jo Becker and Mike McIntire is titled, “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal.” The headline says it all.
While these reporters produced a very detailed and important story, they lacked subpoena power and the investigative resources of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In his statement announcing Mueller’s appointment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated, “the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”
It is this very chain of command that has prevented a review of potential criminality by the Clintons and their associates, and may well have compromised the security of the United States.
As originally reported in the October 24, 2016 Wall Street Journal, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now Acting FBI Director, has significant political and financial ties to the Clintons through his wife. The National Legal and Policy Center unearthed even more connections that were reported by Alana Goodman in the October 27, 2016 Daily Mail.
The actions of then-FBI Director James Comey, then McCabe’s boss, provide even more reasons to question the impartiality of the FBI.
Comey sought to exonerate Hillary Clinton on the possible mishandling of classified material during the heat of a presidential campaign. I can think of no other similar instance in the history of the FBI where it provided such a service to a political candidate.
Although he was not a prosecutor, and it was not his decision, Comey suggested that to prosecute Hillary Clinton would be to unfairly single her out. From his statement at the time:
All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
In other words, context is important. Yet Comey totally ignored the context of the emails. The Clintons appear to have operated an aggressive shakedown operation of domestic and foreign interests, including Russian, many of which are unsavory and criminal. Concealing the true nature of the operation was at least part of the motivation for maintaining a private email server, which Comey surely realized but chose not to investigate.
Of course, further up the chain of command was Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was also compromised. Her infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton not only underscored her poor judgment, but more consequently, her bias and lack of independence.
Before he was even sworn in as President, Donald Trump announced on November 22, 2016 that his administration would not prosecute Hillary Clinton, making it a political decision rather than a law enforcement decision, which it should have been, based on evidence and a full review by the new Attorney General.
The Clintons have been extraordinarily lucky, benefiting from political decisions by both Democrats and Republicans. In addition, various media accounts describe Mueller and Comey as “friends,” and there is also the danger that Mueller will extend to Comey some form of professional courtesy from one former FBI Director to another.
Mueller has an opportunity to rise above all this and conduct an independent, thorough and fair investigation of Russian influence in our elections. To be taken seriously, it must include the Russian relationship with the Clintons.