Sally Yates and Matthew Axelrod cower in the face of questions about shutting down Clinton Foundation investigation
Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and her top lieutenant, Principal Assistant Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod, refused to answer questions this week about whether they tried to squelch an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation during the final months of the 2016 campaign.It appears she does not want to be held accountable for her own conduct and that of those under her. I suspect that if she had a good answer for her conduct she would have given it. The call has the appearance of obstruction of justice for political reasons. She needs to explain if someone in the Obama administration ordered that the investigation be shut down.
Ms. Yates was hosting a conference Thursday at Georgetown Law School urging the public and the media to do more to hold President Trump accountable, and Mr. Axelrod was a panelist for the conference, titled “Democracy in the Balance: The Essential Role of Democratic Institutions & Norms.”
When this reporter approached Mr. Yates, who served as the No. 2 official at the Obama Justice Department, she recoiled at questions about her handling of investigations into the Clinton Foundation. She had a Georgetown media representative intervene to head off further inquiries, saying all interview requests had to go through the school.
Once the media representative was in between Ms. Yates and the reporter, the former deputy attorney general briskly fled the other way, ignoring the reporter’s entreaties about the value of a free press in democracy.
Ms. Yates oversaw the work of Mr. Axelrod during the 2016 election season, at a time when a top FBI official thought he was trying to pressure them to back off of the investigation into the foundation run by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s family.
The Justice Department inspector general said then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fielded a call in August 2016 from the principal assistant deputy attorney general that Mr. McCabe interpreted as pressure to drop the probe. The report didn’t name Mr. Axelrod, but sources and documents show at the time Mr. Axelrod filled that role, and reported to Ms. Yates.