According to several media reports, FBI agents have renewed an investigation of the Clinton Foundation following calls from President Donald Trump and leading Congressional Republicans to get to the bottom of allegations that have dogged the political sphere since 2016. FBI agents are interviewing persons connected to the philanthropy, which is tied to former President Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Questions are being raised to whether donations to the foundation were made in exchange for favors on the part of Hillary Clinton while she served former President Barack Obama as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
The Clinton Foundation is denying any complicity. In 2016, the FBI shut down an investigation into the foundation for supposed lack of evidence. President Trump has repeatedly called for a renewed investigation, in a break with tradition that has placed Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- who has recused himself from related probes -- in an uncomfortable position of receiving gibes from the president.
Hillary Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, called the reopening of the probe "disgraceful" and a “sham” served up to distract from the narrative suggesting that Trump colluded with Russia during the election process. Merrill told The Hill that Republicans have made the Clinton Foundation a “political football” that began as a project led by former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon during the presidential campaign. Merrill suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is heeding Trump and jeapordizing the independence of the Department of Justice.
Late last year, the The Wall Street Journal reported that several FBI field offices have been collecting data on the Clinton Foundation for more than a year and faced obstructionism from the Justice Department. Following years of reporting by various media about pay-for-play accusations laid against the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton, President Trump and prominent Republicans have questioned why no criminal charges were ever filed against either Hillary or Bill Clinton. Among the issues that investigators may be reviewing is the sale of the assets of Uranium One to Russia’s official atomic energy monopoly, which included 20 percent of the U.S. uranium mines. The sale was approved by a committee led by Hillary Clinton at about the time that Bill Clinton received speaking fees or the Clinton Foundation received substantial donations.
Congressional Republicans have called on Attorney General Sessions to appoint a special counsel to look into the Clintons. Two prominent House Republicans called for Sessions to resign. Sessions has testified that the legal requirements for appointing a special counsel have yet to be met.
Yet another issue that the FBI may be examining is Hillary Clinton’s use of a private personal email server for classified communications. In 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey claimed that Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information but did not merit criminal prosecution. Republicans have soundly chastised Comey for the decision, while Trump fired him early in 2017. Comey’s judgement has been questioned further by revelations that his statement had been watered down and that he had made his decision before all witness interviews had been completed. Also several FBI and DOJ officials connected to the probe have been shown to have transmitted highly partisan, anti-Trump messages.
Whether or not any criminal charges may be warranted hinge on the five-year statute of limitations on most federal felonies. Clinton left her job at the State Department in early 2013 to eventually pursue her party’s presidential nomination.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.