CLAIM

FBI director James Comey benefited financially from the Clinton Foundation and was therefore biased when he investigated Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal.

UNPROVEN

RATING

UNPROVEN

WHAT'S TRUE

FBI Director James Comey has worked for some organizations that have donated to or partnered with the Clinton Foundation.

WHAT'S FALSE

There's no proof that Comey directly benefited from any of his employers' relationships with the Clinton Foundation.

ORIGIN

On 10 September 2016, the Breitbart web site posted a story delineating a set of alleged financial ties between FBI Director James Comey and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom the Bureau had investigated for using a private server to handle sensitive e-mails in her capacity as secretary of state. Federal prosecutors ultimately declined to file charges, which has inspired accusations of bias on the part of Comey.

Although the article from Breitbart (masters at using incomplete and misleading information to suggest improper financial ties and relationships where none exist) didn’t provide any “smoking gun” showing that Comey was personally involved with any of his previous employers’ doings with the Clintons’ charitable foundation, the story has been picked up and spread through the conservative blogosphere with headlines asserting Comey was essentially bribed to clear Clinton of criminal actions.

The Breitbart article linked Comey to the Clinton Foundation through a series of circumstances without ever coming close to proving that Comey received money directly from Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable foundation. It also hinted at malfeasance on the part of Comey’s brother, Peter, who is employed in some capacity by the global law firm DLA Piper. DLA Piper reportedly performed an independent audit of the Clinton Foundation, yet Breitbart doesn’t document that Peter Comey had anything to do with the audit.

The article featured a collection of Internet searches combing through Comey’s professional history and the Clinton Foundation’s online listing of donors to suggest some tie between the two datasets (of which there was none other than of the tenuous variety):

How much money did James Comey make from Lockheed Martin in his last year with the company, which he left in 2010? More than $6 million in compensation.

Lockheed Martin is a Clinton Foundation donor. The company admitted to becoming a Clinton Global Initiative member in 2010.

According to records, Lockheed Martin is also a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, which paid Bill Clinton $250,000 to deliver a speech in 2010.

In 2010, Lockheed Martin won 17 approvals for private contracts from the Hillary Clinton State Department.

The story moved on to Comey’s joining the board of London-based bank, HSBC, in 2013 and how HSBC had “partnered with Deutsche Bank through the Clinton Foundation to ‘retrofit 1,500 to 2,500 housing units, primarily in the low- to moderate-income sector'” in New York. The story also cited a Washington Examiner article that stated the DLA Piper firm performed an audit on the Clinton Foundation and was a Foundation donor as well.

The Breitbart story failed to document that James Comey’s brother was involved in (or had any tangible connection to) DLA Piper’s independent audit of the Clinton Foundation. If the story’s own statement that Peter Comey works as “Senior Director of Real Estate Operations for the Americas” is true, it doesn’t seem likely he would have taken part in the auditing of a charitable foundation. It also doesn’t explain how James Comey would have had a vested interest in the outcome of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton. The article went so far as to note that James once lent his brother money for a home mortgage but didn’t provide any remotely credible explanation for how a loan between siblings would suggest any form of wrongdoing.

The story implied that James Comey’s once having worked for organizations that were donors or had partnered with the Clinton Foundation in some capacity was proof enough that he was biased in favor of Hillary Clinton when his bureau investigated her for her mishandling of sensitive information, and it alleged a conflict of interest due to his brother’s employment in a large law firm that audited the Clinton Foundation. But the evidence offered in support of those charges was nothing more than extremely questionable supposition based on a weak form of guilt by association — all based not on any actual investigation, but on simply collating information deftly “hidden” by the alleged conspirators in online news stories and the Clinton Foundation’s own web site.

Sources:

Howley, Patrick.   “Exposed: FBI Director James Comey’s Clinton Foundation Connection.”
    Breitbart.  10 September 2016.

Westwood, Sarah.   “Clinton Foundation Tax Forms Reveal Millions in Unreported Donations.”
    Washington Examiner.   17 November 2015.

Daly, Matthew, and Eric Tucker.   “FBI Director Again Defends Integrity of Clinton Email Probe.”
    Associated Press.   28 September 2016.