After the Senate was notified that dozens of emails on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server had classified information regarding special access programs, or SAP, the Clinton presidential campaign referenced the 1990s playbook and targeted the investigator.
In this case, it was Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough that made the determination in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
Clinton Campaign Spokesman Brian Fallon said: “It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
Fallon further told CNN: “So I think that he put two Republican senators up to sending him a letter so that he would have an excuse to resurface the same allegations he made back in the summer that have been discredited.”
Going back to the 1990s investigations of President Bill Clinton, the Clinton’s typically called the investigator into question. But casting McCullough in a light of Ken Starr – the independent counsel who probed Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and other Clinton scandals– could be a difficult political undertaking.
Here’s some information on McCullough’s mostly apolitical past in government.
1. Barack Obama Appointee
McCullough had been a career civil servant who had worked for administrations in both parties before President Barack Obama nominated him on Aug. 2, 2011 to be the first inspector general of the intelligence community.
The Senate unanimously confirmed him on Nov. 7, 2011 for the position to serve as the internal watchdog for 16 intelligence agencies and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In this position, he handles audits of the various intelligence agenies, and is also th chairman of the IC IG Forum that includes inspectors general from other intelligence agencies to promote collaboration.
2. What Democrats Think of Him
After McCullough was nominated, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), then-chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was well qualified.
“He has long experience conducting investigations both as an inspector general and a FBI agent,” Feinstein said on the Senate floor. “He is an attorney and is well-familiar with the intelligence community.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also expressed his support, saying, “We’ve heard good things about you and I’m looking forward to supporting you when Chair Feinstein moves ahead with the vote.”
Further, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said during the confirmation hearing, “You clearly have been able to operate in both the civilian and the military sectors which will, I think, prove to be a very valuable set of experiences, if you’re confirmed.”
3. Career in National Security
Before taking the job as inspector general of the intelligence community, McCullough served as the deputy inspector general of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, just one of the 16 agencies that is now under his purview.
Prior to that, McCullough’s was the assistant inspector general for investigations in the Office of Inspector General for the National Security Agency. His time in the NSA overlapped the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations.
4. Tackling Terror Financing and Enron
McCullough served as the senior counsel for law enforcement and intelligence for the Treasury Department from 2001 through 2003, and led the way in investigating two high profile cases.
One involved the financing of terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen convicted in the United States of working with Al Qaeda for conspiring to kill Americans.
He was also Treasury’s lead counsel in a suit against Enron, the energy giant that collapsed after a financial scandal.
In this position, he also helped draft the intelligence sharing provision in the USA Patriot Act, and also consulted the Bush administration on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
5. FBI Years
From 1991 through 1997, McCullough was a special agent for the FBI. He worked in the in New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and West Virginia before serving in the FBI national headquarters in Washington.
From 1997 through 1999, he served as the FBI Associate Division Counsel, and was a supervisory special agent from 1999 through 2001 before going to the Treasury Department.