The scope of the FBI’s criminal investigation against Hillary Clinton has expanded to include examining the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. Department of State while Hillary Clinton was secretary, according to a Fox News report.
“The agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed,” one source told the network.
The development follows press reports over the past year about the potential overlap of State Department and Clinton Foundation work, and questions over whether donors benefited from their contacts inside the administration.
The Clinton Foundation is a public charity, known as a 501(c)(3). It had grants and contributions in excess of $144 million in 2013, the most current available data.
Inside the FBI, pressure is growing to pursue the case.
One intelligence source told Fox News that FBI agents would be “screaming” if a prosecution is not pursued because “many previous public corruption cases have been made and successfully prosecuted with much less evidence than what is emerging in this investigation.”
The FBI is particularly on edge in the wake of how the case of former CIA Director David Petraeus was handled.
One of the three sources said some FBI agents felt Petraeus was given a slap on the wrist for sharing highly classified information with his mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell, as well as lying to FBI agents about his actions. Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in March 2015 after a two-plus-year federal investigation in which Attorney General Eric Holder initially declined to prosecute.
In the Petraeus case, the exposure of classified information was assessed to be limited.
By contrast, in the Clinton case, the number of classified emails has risen to at least 1,340. A 2015 appeal by the State Department to challenge the “Top Secret” classification of at least two emails failed and, as Fox News first reported, is now considered a settled matter.
It is unclear which of the two lines of inquiry was opened first by the FBI and whether they eventually will be combined and presented before a special grand jury. One intelligence source said the public corruption angle dates back to at least April 2015. On their official website, the FBI lists “public corruption as the FBI’s top criminal priority.”
Fox News is told that about 100 special agents assigned to the investigations also were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, with as many as 50 additional agents on “temporary duty assignment,” or TDY. The request to sign a new NDA could reflect that agents are handling the highly classified material in the emails, or serve as a reminder not to leak about the case, or both.
“The pressure on the lead agents is brutal,” a second source said. “Think of it like a military operation, you might need tanks called in along with infantry.”
Hillary and Bill Clinton have raised hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, even while Hillary was secretary of state. Did the Foundation accept donations from individuals and nations in exchange for “favors” and contracts from the U.S. State Department, engineered by Mrs. Clinton? If so, can prosecutors prove it in a court of law?
The answer to the first question is almost certainly yes. An obvious example is the sale of advanced fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, cleared by Clinton’s State Department after the Saudi government gave millions to the Clinton Foundation.
Then there’s the case of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s close friend and aide, who may have broken the law by receiving a salary from the State Department and a private consulting company at the same time. The company had several contracts with the Clinton Foundation.
As for the second question, it isn’t likely Clinton will be prosecuted for public corruption. These cases are very hard to prove, especially when the crimes are skillfully covered up. Far more likely are indictments for mishandling or negligent handling of classified material. That problem is not going away for Mrs. Clinton and the investigation could come to a head right around the time she sews up the nomination.