Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, widely considered to be a frontrunner to challenge Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, is staying mum about his wife Jane's trouble with the law, backing out of a planned interview after finding out the paper, Seven Days, suggested they'd like to speak with the senator on the matter.
According to Seven Days, which bills itself as an "alternative" and "independent" news source — and is not, by any means, a conservative-leaning publication — Sanders's team reached out to their reporters to offer an interview, to kick off Sanders's State of the Union response.
Sanders' communications director told Seven Days that they wouldn't be allowed to ask Bernie anything about "political gossip," a condition which left the paper concerned. They wanted to know more, they said, about Bernie's step-daughter, who is running for political office, and give Bernie a friendly place to respond to allegations that his wife committed bank fraud — an allegation that has since led to a federal investigation which is now, reportedly, being referred to a grand jury.
Panicked, the senator's staff withdrew, saying the senator's schedule filled up unexpectedly, according to Seven Days.
When Seven Days sent a reporter to find Sanders, he doubled down. "We talk about issues. We don't talk about gossip," Sanders said. "I don't talk to gossip columnists. I talk about issues."
Jane Sanders tried to ink a land deal while president of Burlington College back in 2010. As part of the process, she secured a $6.7 million loan from a bank and an additional $3.6 million loan from a Roman Catholic parish — the same parish selling their land to Burlington College.
But as part of the loan process, Sanders was required to disclose how much money Burlington College donors were fronting for the expansion project. After donor money never materialized (and some listed donors said they'd never even been contacted to give), the bank claimed Sanders had sold them a bill of goods. Sanders resigned from Burlington College, but that didn't stop the bank from reporting the issue to the federal government.
The U.S. Justice Department opened the investigation while Barack Obama was still president. Witnesses were questioned in the Burlington College affair as recently as December, and the FBI says the case is still open and pending, according to a source who spoke with Fox News. If Jane Sanders is indicted, she could go to trial just as Bernie Sanders is ramping up to run for president.
And that's probably why he doesn't want to talk about it.