And not just any lawyer, either. Bernie and Jane Sanders have secured Scooter Libby’s and convicted felon/former U.S. Congressman William Jefferson’s lawyer amid an FBI investigation that doesn’t just threaten to put her away, but the Vermont Senator, as well.
Here’s a bit of background.
Sanders is used to fielding softball questions from an adoring local press, but his inquisitor, Kyle Midura of Burlington TV station WCAX, had a rare opportunity to put him on the spot. Investigative reporters had been breaking stories about a federal investigation into allegations that the senator’s wife, Jane Sanders, had committed fraud in obtaining bank loans for the now defunct Burlington College, and that Sanders’s Senate office had weighed in.
Sanders and his wife have been trying to ignore the federal investigation since reporters for VTDigger, an online publication, confirmed the FBI’s involvement in April. The original request for an investigation into the potential bank fraud did indeed come from Brady Toensing, an attorney who chaired Trump’s Vermont campaign, and whose January 2016 letter to the U.S. attorney for Vermont put federal agents on the trail. (Toensing, in an email to Politico Magazine, notes, “The investigation was started more than a year ago under President Obama, his Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and his United States Attorney, all of whom are Democrats.”)
Originally, it appeared that it was just Mrs. Sanders who was in trouble, but there is an allegation that the Senator’s office applied pressure to the bank to accept the loan, which is a big ethical no-no.
The Burlington allegations didn’t really generate much buzz on the trail. After all, here was a guy who wasn’t supposed to do much of anything in the 2016 election, but instead rode a wave of populist support that at times even threatened Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
As an aside, the FBI and 2016’s campaign season seem to have a prolonged love affair, . Hillary, Trump’s campaign, and now Sanders and his wife. What a great job we’ve done as a country.
Anyway, back to the story at hand.
So, Politico has done a pretty good job laying this out. Jane Sanders had the college buy a $10 million parcel of land, even though the college was damn near broke and couldn’t make its loan payments. It is alleged that she lied to obtain the loan and lied about pledged donations to the school.
Sanders and his wife maintain that it’s a partisan investigation because it was initiated after a letter from a Republican operative. However, the FBI is treating it incredibly seriously, given that they’ve been very busy collecting information and talking to former school officials.
Clearly, this isn’t a partisan witch hunt. Who know where it will lead, though.