The FBI has dealt another blow to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, this time by releasing documents concerning her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Just one week from Election Day, the bureau released 129 pages of documents related to a controversial pardon Bill Clinton granted fugitive trader Marc Rich on his last day in office almost 16 years ago.
The disclosure of the heavily redacted report over the pardon of Rich, an investigation that was closed in 2005 without charges, further angered Democrats who are already outraged by the FBI’s probe into hundreds of thousands of newly uncovered emails linked to the former first lady.
The FBI released the Bill Clinton files on Monday which received little attention, but the agency drew more attention on Tuesday when it posted a statement on Twitter.
“This initial release consists of material from the FBI’s files related to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization,” reads the statement on the FBI records vault website. “The bulk of these records come from a 2001 FBI investigation into the pardon of Marc Rich (1934-2013), aka Marcell David Reich, by President Clinton in 2001; it was closed in 2005. The material is heavily redacted due to personal privacy protections and grand jury secrecy rules.”
Rich, who died in 2013, was a financier who fled to Switzerland after being indicted on numerous federal charges, including tax evasion, wire fraud and racketeering in 1983.
The former president’s motive for pardoning Rich was questioned because Rich’s ex-wife, Denise Rich, was an affluent Democratic donor who donated $450,000 to Clinton’s presidential library foundation and more than $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.
The FBI said that material requested three or more times under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is automatically made public online.
“The FBI’s Records Management Division receives thousands of FOIA requests annually which are processed on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis,” it said in a statement.
“Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI’s public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures.”
Clinton’s campaign criticized the shock move, with her spokesman Brian Fallon saying that “absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd.”
Referring to Republican nominee Donald Trump, Fallon asked, “Will FBI be posting docs on Trump’s housing discrimination in ’70s?”
On Friday, FBI Director James Comey announced that it was looking into a new trove of hundreds of thousands of emails that may be connected to Hillary Clinton.
In his letter to Congress, Comey said those emails should be reviewed since they could be related to an earlier probe into Clinton’s use of a private server while she served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
Comey had concluded in July that there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Clinton.
The move by Comey departed from decisions in recent months to keep quiet two separate investigations, The New York Times reported Tuesday. It was against longstanding policy not to publicize investigations that were likely to affect major elections, the report said.