The United States Justice Department (DOJ) has initiated investigation into whether the Clinton Foundation conducted any “pay-to-play” schemes during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, Washington publication, The Hill has reported, citing law enforcement officials.
The paper said FBI agents from Little Rock, Arkansas, where the Foundation began, had taken the lead in the investigation and interviewed at least one witness in the past month, the newspaper reported.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the inquiry is looking into whether the Clintons promised or performed any favors in return for contributions to their charitable efforts, or whether donations were pledged in the hope of securing certain outcomes involving the government. The newspaper cited officials as saying that the investigation may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use, and whether the Foundation complied with applicable tax laws. A witness, interviewed by the FBI, said he was answering questions about whether donors to Clinton charitable activities received any favorable treatment from the Obama administration.
Neither the Foundation nor Nick Merrill, spokesman for Hillary Clinton, returned the Hill’s request for comment. Both have previously denied the allegations of trading government policy decisions for donations.
The DoJ is also reopening its probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State (between 2009 and 2013), The Daily Beast reported on Thursday. The department is reportedly trying to collect new details on how Clinton and her aides, former top aide Huma Abedin among them, handled classified material. Among other things, law enforcement officials are endeavoring to find out how much classified information was stored on Clinton’s private email server, as well as how that data got there.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on the DOJ to reopen its investigation into Clinton. “Many people in our Country are asking what the ‘Justice’ Department is going to do about the fact that totally Crooked Hillary, AFTER receiving a subpoena from the United States Congress, deleted and ‘acid washed’ 33,000 Emails? No justice!” he tweeted last month.
On Tuesday, Trump lambasted the DoJ for being part of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy, urging ‘jail’ time for Huma Abedin for using a non-secure private email account while conducting government business.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid [sic], Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors [sic] pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others,” Trump tweeted, referring to the former FBI director and an incident where a US sailor was punished for sharing a photo from inside a submarine.
Last Friday, the State Department released a batch of nearly 2,800 work-related documents from the email account of Huma Abedin, who served as the deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton. At least five of the trove of emails, stored on a laptop belonging to Abedin’s then-husband, former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, were marked “confidential,” and involved private talks with Middle Eastern leaders and Clinton’s top aide.
The emails were released in response to a 2015 lawsuit, filed by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch against the State Department after it failed to respond to a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) seeking access to “all emails of official State Department business received or sent by former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin from January 1, 2009 through February 1, 2013 using a non-‘state.gov’ email address.”
The emails were discovered on Weiner’s laptop during an FBI investigation into allegations over ‘sexting’ with a 15-year-old girl. The discovery of the emails triggered the FBI’s reopening of an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server only 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. Clinton repeatedly claimed the announcement contributed to her loss to Donald Trump.