Late Wednesday, news broke that the FBI had obtained secret recordings of a suspect talking about potential illegal dealings at the Clinton Foundation. In the same story, the Wall Street Journal reported that FBI agents used an anti-Clinton book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” as a road map to aid their investigation.
The author of that book, Peter Schweizer, lives in Tallahassee and works at the little known Government Accountability Institute, which is nestled in a quiet office complex hidden off Thomasville Road just south of I-10. Schweizer also has close ties to Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who is listed as “executive chairman and co-founder” of GAI.
The connection between Schweizer and Bannon is well known, but news that Schweizer’s book helped spur the FBI investigation has not previously been disclosed, nor was it known that officials at the U.S. Department of Justice were not inclined to pursue the investigation, possibly because of Schweizer’s conservative background. From the WSJ story:
Much of the skepticism toward the case came from how it started—with the publication of a book suggesting possible financial misconduct and self-dealing surrounding the Clinton charity. The author of that book, Peter Schweizer—a former speechwriting consultant for President George W. Bush—was interviewed multiple times by FBI agents, people familiar with the matter said.
According to a report in Bloomberg, published last year, the Government Accountability Institute houses an impressive array of “lawyers, data scientists, and forensic investigators.” The organization also employs a high-tech data mining operation that relies on a $1.3 billion computer network to scour the “Dark Web” for information and data, that, according to Bloomberg, “yielded a slew of unreported foundation donors who appear to have benefited financially from their relationship with the Clintons.”
Bannon told Bloomberg in the same story of his own personal philosophy for how conservatives can influence the media on big stories about Clinton, like the one told in Schweizer’s book. In the past, when it came to the Clintons, he says, conservatives “always oversold the conclusion.” Instead, Bannon told Bloomberg he learned a valuable lesson when he worked for Goldman Sachs: “don’t be the first guy through the door, because you’re going to get all the arrows.”
Instead, Bannon said, “Find a business partner.” In other words, find another media outlet, or another organization that can lend mainstream credibility to the story.
With the rapid developments in the Clinton investigation, It looks like Schweizer and Bannon finally found the “business partner” of their dreams: the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Disclosure: In 2014, I interviewed over the phone with Bannon, and in person with Peter Schweizer, about helping to launch “Breitbart Florida,” a state-level version of Breitbart News. The project never advanced beyond the discussion phase, although Breitbart did launch similar ventures in other states, including Breitbart Texas, Breitbart California, and Breitbart London. At one point, Sarah Rumpf, who is a contributor to The Capitolist, wrote extensively for Breitbart News.