House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte Tuesday urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate allegations that top Obama-era Department of Justice officials tried to shut down the FBI probe into the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential election.
“At a minimum the allegations deserve further scrutiny to determine whether the FBI was hampered in any way by top officials in the Department of Justice, top officials of the FBI itself, or senior officials of the Obama Administration,” Mr. Goodlatte wrote in a letter to the Attorney General. “Please confirm that the DOJ will take immediate steps to investigate this matter and hold any wrongdoers accountable.”
An inspector general report on former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe released last month detailed an August 2016 phone call from a high-ranking Justice Department official. Mr. McCabe thought the call was made to scuttle the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation while Hillary Clinton was running for president, according to the report.
The official was “very pissed off” at the FBI, the report said. He demanded to know why the FBI was still investigating the Clinton Foundation when the Justice Department considered it a dormant case according to the report.
The inspector general only identified by the caller by the Principal Associate Deputy General (PADAG) and not by name. Last month sources told the Washington Times that Matthew Axelrod held that position at the time of the call.
In his letter, Mr. Goodlatte said there are indications that Mr. Axelrod is the PADAG.
Mr. Axelrod directly reported to then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates raising questions about whether she was aware of the call.
Neither Mr. Axelrod nor Ms. Yates responded to multiple emails and phone calls seeking comment. An attempt to speak with them last week during a Georgetown Law School conference where they were both speaking was shut down.
“It appears that the PADAG was at the very least inquiring into why the FBI was pursuing a case against the Clinton Foundation during the election, and at worst, attempting to improperly and illegally influence the status of an ongoing investigation for purely partisan purposes,” Mr. Goodlatte wrote. “Both options are unseemly and should be investigated.”
Later, Mr. Goodlatte wrote, “it is important to determine whether the PADAG’s direction to Mr. McCabe resulted in any ‘stand down’ order being given to agents in these offices.”
Mr. Goodlatte said he believes the allegations warrant the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the Justice Department. But said at a minimum, Mr. Sessions should launch an investigation into the allegations.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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