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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Clinton’s Connection to FBI Official

Without any evidence, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton knew that “one of the closest people” to her donated over $675,000 to the campaign of the wife of an FBI official who investigated Clinton’s use of a private email system as secretary of state.

Dr. Jill McCabe, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Virginia Senate in 2015, did receive over $675,000 in combined contributions from the Virginia Democratic Party and a political action committee connected to Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend and supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

But there’s no evidence that Clinton had anything to do with the contributions, or that she even knew about them, as Trump claimed.

The article from the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, doesn’t say that Clinton had any knowledge of the donations, or that the donations were connected to the FBI’s decision not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton over her emails. And the Journal reported that Andrew McCabe didn’t help oversee the investigation of Clinton’s emails until after his wife had already lost the election.

In response to the Journal story, McAuliffe said: “I supported Jill McCabe because she was the best candidate to be a state senator, plain and simple.”

Trump made the claim that Clinton “knew this money was being paid” to Jill McCabe’s campaign during an event in St. Augustine, Florida, on Oct. 24. He said that the Journal article contained “shocking new revelations … about how the Clinton campaign has corrupted our government.”

Trump, Oct. 24: Just today, there are shocking new revelations — which you’ve seen — front page of the Wall Street Journal, about how the Clinton campaign has corrupted our government. It was just learned that one of the closest people to Hillary Clinton, with longstanding ties to her husband and herself, gave more — this just came out — gave more than $675,000 to the campaign of the spouse, the wife of the top FBI official who helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s illegal email server.

So the man that was investigating her from the FBI, his wife runs for office and they give her more than $675,000 to run. And it just came out. They just figured it out.

We’ve never had a thing like this in the history of this country. This represented a large portion of the money the FBI official’s spouse had for the entire campaign. A big, big percentage. It’s absolutely disgraceful, it’s absolutely terrible. And it’s unbelievable how Hillary Clinton got away with the email lie, the email scam, the email corruption, but now at least we have a pretty good idea. …

So the fact that she is even allowed to run means our system is rigged. She never had a chance of being convicted. Hillary knew this money was being paid and she has to be held accountable for this. Yet another crime, one of so many. And she has to be held accountable because she knew that money, $675,000 plus, was being paid. So how is she allowed to continue to run for president? How is she allowed?

But the Journal article doesn’t say that Clinton knew about the money.

And Trump’s phrasing suggests that the donations to McCabe’s campaign were made while her husband was investigating Clinton’s emails. Not so.

The beginning of the Journal article says: “The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.”

According to the Journal, this all goes back to March 7, 2015, when McAuliffe and other state Democratic officials met with the McCabes and urged Jill, a pediatric physician, to run against the Republican incumbent, Richard Black. At the time, McCabe’s husband, Andrew, was the head of the FBI field office in Washington, D.C.

But McAuliffe, according to WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia, said that he recalls McCabe being recruited as early as February 2015, by Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

McCabe officially announced her candidacy on March 12, 2015. That was more than a week after the New York Times broke the story that Clinton may have violated federal law by solely using a personal email account and private email server to conduct government business as secretary of state.

The Journal also reported that Andrew McCabe was promoted to associate deputy director of the FBI at the end of July 2015, the same month that the FBI launched its nearly year-long investigation primarily into whether Clinton or anyone on her staff violated federal law by sending and receiving classified information on Clinton’s personal system.

But it wasn’t until February 2016 that McCabe was promoted to deputy director, “where, in that position, he assumed for the first time, an oversight role in the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails,” according to a statement an FBI spokesman provided to the Journal.

By then, Jill McCabe — whose campaign received $467,500 from McAuliffe’s political action committee and another $207,788 from the Virginia Democratic Party — had lost the election.

“Once the campaign was over, officials said, Mr. McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended,” the Journal reported.

And McCabe wasn’t the only candidate to receive large amounts from McAuliffe’s PAC in 2015. Common Good VA gave $803,500 to state Senate candidate Jeremy McPike, who won his race, and $781,500 to Daniel Gecker, who lost his.

Since it wasn’t mentioned in the article, we asked the Trump campaign what evidence it had that Clinton was aware of the donations to McCabe’s campaign or that the donations influenced the FBI’s decision. We didn’t receive a response.

Even Devlin Barrett, who wrote the Journal article cited by Trump, has said that his article didn’t say that the donations to McCabe were connected to the FBI’s investigation of Clinton emails.

In tweets on Oct. 23, Barrett wrote:

In a press conference on July 5, FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency would not recommend that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

The Journal article noted that though McCabe “was part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation … FBI officials say any final decisions on that probe were made by Mr. Comey, who served as a high-ranking Justice Department official in the administration of George W. Bush.”