When FBI Director James Comey re-opened the investigation into her emails last week, Hillary Clinton called the action “unprecedented.” As Hillary knows, it is not, not at all.
Ten years ago, almost to the day of Comey’s announcement, the Clintons used the FBI in one of the ugliest political takedowns in American political history.
The victim was Republican Curt Weldon. A 10-term congressman, Weldon was in line to become the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and as such would have had the authority to conduct investigations involving national security.
As vice chairman of the HASC, Weldon was conducting three extremely sensitive investigations at the time that likely would have embarrassed senior leaders in both parties, the Clintons most obviously.
Weldon had also led congressional efforts to investigate Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger for a number of extremely controversial actions – including the transfer of sensitive technology to China and the retroactive presidential waiver Berger arranged for DNC mega donor and Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz.
When Berger was caught stealing and shredding sensitive national security documents from the National Archives in his preparation for his 9/11 Commission testimony, U.S. Attorney Howard Sklambeg arranged the plea bargain.
Although he worked in the Bush administration, Sklamberg was a holdover from the Clinton days, donated to the Clintons and was reportedly tight with the family.
Sklamberg allowed 11 admitted felonies to be pleaded down to one misdemeanor. He recommended a $10,000 fine for Berger, no jail time and an agreed upon polygraph that was never administered.
To prevent further embarrassment or worse, Berger helped orchestrate Weldon’s takedown. In March 2006, Berger held a fundraiser for the designated hit man, Joe Sestak, a former vice admiral forced into retirement for what the U.S. Navy charitably called “poor command climate.”
Berger lent more than his money and support for Sestak’s campaign to replace Weldon. He volunteered his company’s director of communications to serve as Sestak’s campaign spokesperson. Before the campaign was through, Berger and his allies would bring in the big guns, none bigger than Bill Clinton and none more lethal than the FBI.
The Clintons and their cronies invested a good deal of energy in neutralizing Weldon. During an unusually testy Chris Wallace interview with ex-President Clinton on Fox News in late September 2006, the nation saw just how much energy.
“A three-star admiral,” Clinton announced out of nowhere, “who was on my National Security Council staff, who also fought terror, by the way, is running for the seat of Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania.”
He did not even mention Sestak. In fact, he mentioned only two Republicans in the interview: Curt Weldon and President George W. Bush. A week or so later, Clinton visited Weldon’s district to stir up the base.
Each of Weldon’s 10 previous re-elections had been by sizable margins. Polls showed he was up by 5-7 points before the Clintons and pals weighed in.
Three weeks prior to the election, however, a national story ran about Weldon based upon anonymous sources that an investigation was underway against him and his daughter, alleging illegal activities involving his congressional work.
Weldon had received no prior notification of any such investigation and was dumbfounded that such a story would run especially since he regularly briefed the FBI and intelligence agencies on his work.
A week after the news story broke, alleging a need to act quickly because of the leak, FBI agents from Washington raided the home of Weldon’s daughter at 7 a.m. on a Monday morning. Howard Sklamberg oversaw the action.
Local TV and print media had all been alerted to the raid in advance and were already in position to cover the story. Within hours, Democratic protesters were waving “Caught Red-Handed” signs outside Weldon’s district office in Upper Darby.
In the ensuing two weeks, local and national media ran multiple stories implying that Weldon too must have been under investigation. Given the coverage, Weldon lost the election.
Not coincidentally, a local Democrat and personal friend of Weldon’s, John Gallagher, had his office “raided” the same morning as Weldon’s daughter.
Within two days, Sklamberg called Gallagher and apologized for the raid. It seems Gallagher had been working on international security matters for the FBI arranged by Weldon two years earlier at the request of local FBI agents.
To this day, incredibly, no one in authority has talked to Weldon or his daughter about the raid or the investigation. There was no follow up, no questions, no grand jury interrogation, nothing.
One year after the raid the local FBI office called Weldon’s daughter to have her come get the property that had been removed from her home. That was it.
The raid ruined the career of Weldon and his daughter, and it preserved the career of Berger and the Clintons. The media chose not to look. That was the way Washington was supposed to work.
Maybe not anymore.
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