Newly released documents and interviews with former Justice Department officials indicate that the investigation into the Clinton Foundation, focused on its interactions with foreign donors during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, remained open to most of President Donald Trump’s administration.
The case was finally closed just days before Trump left office, as detailed in closing documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the New York Times reported Monday.
The investigation, which had been the subject of intense scrutiny and Trump’s campaign promises to “shut it down,” continued despite FBI agents and prosecutors leading it to a dead end. The lengthy investigation became a rallying cry for Republicans who expected to find evidence of corruption that would hurt Clinton’s political prospects.
Scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation began in 2015 after the publication of “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” by conservative author Peter Schweizer. The book examined donations made by foreign entities to the foundation. Republicans accused Clinton of engaging in a quid pro quo by supporting the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company linked to mining interests in the United States, to a Russian nuclear agency in exchange for substantial donations to the foundation.
The FBI launched a preliminary investigation based on the book’s claims in 2016, but it was based on unverified information. The FBI launched additional investigations in New York and Little Rock, Arkansas, based on reports from confidential sources. However, the Justice Department expressed doubts about the validity of the investigations, causing frustration among FBI agents. Some prosecutors even believed that Schweizer’s book had been discredited.
The tension between the FBI and the Department of Justice over the handling of the Clinton Foundation investigation had major consequences. It sparked public controversy and contributed to the firing of Andrew G. McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, who was accused of leaking information about the case and later lying about it. Efforts by the Justice Department to prosecute McCabe were unsuccessful.
The case was finally consolidated under the supervision of agents in New York in August 2016, but prosecutors declined to issue subpoenas. The investigation appeared to be dormant until he moved to Little Rock. In 2018, prosecutors obtained a subpoena for the foundation and interviewed its former chief financial officer. The case was finally closed in January 2021 by career prosecutors in Little Rock, and the FBI received a decline note in August 2021, marking the end of the matter.
“All evidence obtained during the course of this investigation has been returned or otherwise destroyed,” the FBI said in the memo.
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, reacted to the NY Times revelations.
“Biden’s Justice Department formally shut down the Clinton Foundation ‘investigation’ in August 2021,” Fitton noted. “The FBI destroyed all the evidence.”
The recently released Durham Report revealed that before the 2016 election, FBI officials frequently intervened to prevent agents from investigating possible criminal actions involving Hillary Clinton, her campaign and the Clinton Foundation.
“The speed and manner in which the FBI opened and investigated Hurricane Crossfire during the presidential election season based on raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence also reflected a marked departure from how address previous matters involving possible attempted foreign election interference schemes targeting the Clinton campaign,” the report said.
“[I]”In the eighteen months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI was forced to deal with a number of proposed investigations that had the potential to affect the election,” the report continues. “In each of these cases, the FBI moved very cautiously. In one of these matters…FBI Headquarters and Department officials required that defensive briefings be provided to Clinton and other officials or candidates who appeared to be targets of foreign interference.In another, the FBI decided to end an investigation after one of its valuable former CHS went beyond what was authorized and made a financial contribution improper and possibly illegal to the Clinton campaign on behalf of a foreign entity.
as a precursor to a much larger donation being contemplated.”
“And in a third part, the Clinton Foundation matter, both senior FBI and Department officials placed restrictions on how these matters should be handled so that virtually no investigative activity took place in the months leading up to the elections,” the report added. “These examples are also very different from the FBI’s actions regarding another very significant piece of information it received from a trusted foreign source that pointed to a Clinton campaign plan to smear Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin to divert attention from his own concerns related to his use of a private email server.”
This new report confirms that the FBI’s unwillingness to investigate Hillary Clinton, and the Justice Department’s unwillingness to prosecute her, continues under the Biden administration.
“*” Indicates mandatory fields
OPINION: This article contains comments that reflect the opinion of the author.