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FBI investigation into Bernie Sanders' wife could kill his chances in 2020

Sen. Sanders says the move could be politically motivated.
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Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The FBI is investigating Bernie Sanders' wife on fraud charges and the one-time presidential candidate thinks the agency’s motives are political.

Sanders, who is one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent politicians, has not ruled out a 2020 presidential bid — though he’ll be 79 on Inauguration Day in 2021.

Jane Sanders has hired a lawyer for an FBI probe into whether she made fraudulent claims and promises while trying to secure a $10 million loan for a real estate deal for Burlington College, a now-defunct college she was president of from 2004 to 2011, The Hill reported. The college closed about a year ago due to debt taken on during Jane Sanders’ tenure.

A loan application signed by Jane Sanders stated the college was ready to take in millions in pledged donations should the loan go through, many of those donations never materialized, CNN reported.

Sanders defended his wife Tuesday in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett and suggested the timing of the investigation was politically motivated.

"My wife is about the most honest person I know," Sanders said.

Sanders said the FBI probe was instigated by former Vermont Republican Party Vice Chairman Brady Toensing.

“When she came to that college it was failing financially and academically. When she left it, it was in better shape than it had ever been,” Sanders said. Five years later, just at the moment — coincidentally, no doubt — when I am a candidate for president of the United States … [Toensing] launched this investigation.”

Toensing told CNN on Sunday that his hope "is for a fair, full and impartial investigation."

Sanders called the investigation “pathetic.”

"All that I will tell you now is it's a sad state of affairs in America when not only we have politicians being destroyed … but when you go after people's wives. That's pretty pathetic."

Colin Reed, the executive director of the GOP opposition research super PAC America Rising, told The Hill these allegations could spell bad news for a future Sanders candidacy.

Trust is a huge issue, especially for a presidential candidate,” Reed said.

“The longer these narratives have to bake in with the electorate, the more effective they are when voters go to vote. We learned that from Secretary Clinton — we were able to get a four-year head start on the research for her.”             

 
 
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