USA TODAY - The FBI gave the Hillary Clinton campaign another unpleasant surprise Tuesday, this time releasing 129 pages of documents from a 2001 investigation into Bill Clinton's controversial presidential pardon of fugitive Marc Rich.
The bureau initially released the heavily redacted files on Monday, but drew more attention to the documents in a tweet Tuesday. The Clinton team questioned the timing of the release, which comes one week before the election and just days after Director James Comey's stunning announcement that the FBI was looking into newly discovered emails related to its investigation of Hillary Clinton.
William J. Clinton Foundation: This initial release consists of material from the FBI's files related to the Will... https://t.co/Y4nz3aRSmG— FBI Records Vault (@FBIRecordsVault) November 1, 2016
"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 a 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 multiple federal charges, including tax evasion, in 1983. Clinton's motive for pardoning Rich on his last day in office was questioned because Rich's ex-wife, Denise Rich, was a wealthy Democratic donor who made a $450,000 donation to Clinton's presidential library foundation and more than $100,000 to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.
In a statement, the FBI said that any material requested three or more times under the Freedom of Information Act is automatically made available to the public online on a "first in, first out basis."
"Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd," Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted before the FBI released its statement. "Will the FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in '70?"
Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd.— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) November 1, 2016
Will FBI be posting docs on Trump's housing discrimination in '70s?https://t.co/uJMMzX6rtI
The FBI actually did release a file on Donald Trump's father, Fred, on Oct. 8. The bureau also tweeted a link to those documents, along with links to files from 20 other cases — including the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server — from its Records Vault account on Sunday. Prior to that, the last tweet from that account was in October of 2015.
David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Obama, said the document release is another case of the FBI intervening in the election.
"Whatever the reasoning behind it, this latest release further brands the @FBI as the Federal Bureau of Intervention," Axelrod said in a tweet. "It's a head-scratcher!"
Whatever the reasoning behind it, this latest release further brands the @FBI as the Federal Bureau of Intervention. It's a head-scratcher!— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 1, 2016
The majority of the pages in the documents are completely redacted and they do not appear to shed any new light on the case. Comey took over the FBI probe into the Rich pardon in 2003 and the case was closed in 2005 with no charges filed.
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