Odd Timing: FBI Releases Closed Case Files On Bill Clinton Pardon Of Marc Rich

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Late update 9:16 p.m.: The FBI released the following statement about the release of the documents:

The FBI’s Records Management Division receives thousands of FOIA requests annually which are processed on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis. By law, FOIA materials that have been requested three or more times are posted electronically to the FBI’s public reading room shortly after they are processed. 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.

Original story below:

An FBI Twitter account that had been dormant for over a year puzzled political observers on Tuesday by sending out a tweet linking to records from a long-closed case involving what was then known as the William J. Clinton Foundation.

An FBI list of documents recently added to the public vault states that this material, which related to former President Bill Clinton’s pardoning of Marc Rich, an international commodities trader indicted on tax evasion charges, was released on October 31. NBC’s Pete Williams reported that the documents were the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request and were released “under normal guidelines”:

Yet the timing of the tweet struck many as odd, since the FBI Records Vault Twitter account had sent no messages from Oct. 8, 2015-Oct. 30, 2016. Suddenly, on Sunday, a flood of new tweets went out with links to records released over the course of 2016, including FBI files on Donald Trump’s father, Fred, and retired CIA director David Petraeus.

This head-scratching account reactivation came just two days after FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the agency was looking into more emails potentially tied to its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Comey was at the heart of the scandal that erupted from Clinton’s 2001 pardoning of Rich, a financier who lingered on the FBI’s most-wanted list for 16 years for criminal charges including tax evasion, wire fraud and trading with Iran during the oil embargo. Comey oversaw Rich’s prosecution between 1987 and 1993, before later taking over an investigation into then-President Clinton’s decision to grant Rich a pardon on his last day in office. He ultimately decided not to pursue that case.

The tweet prompted a flurry of responses on social media. Transparency organization WikiLeaks falsely claimed that the documents were related to investigations into the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, while a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign said the timing was “odd.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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