Americans who lived through the nightmares of both the Watergate and Lewinsky scandals recall vividly how every day seemed to produce new evidence of wrongdoing. The drip, drip of deceptions and lies finally overflowed into a cascading pool of criminality and disgust.
The first scandal culminated in Articles of Impeachment. The other an impeachment trial. Is America now hurtling toward the same political abyss? It looks like it. So, fasten your seat belts and brace for impact.
Sources tell Fox News’s Bret Baier that the FBI has uncovered an “avalanche of evidence” in the Clinton Foundation investigation.
Agents are “actively and aggressively pursuing this case,” calling it a “very high priority.”
Armed with newly discovered email evidence and additional documents revealed by WikiLeaks, these sources say that agents will likely try to get Huma Abedin and others to cooperate in an effort to bring criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.
It is a stunning development. But that’s how avalanches happen. Suddenly, you’re buried before you know it.
If this is true, and if Clinton is elected president in a few days but thereafter indicted, several scenarios could unfold.
She could resign before or after inauguration, leaving President Tim Kaine sitting behind a desk in the Oval Office.
President Obama could pardon her before he departs that same office.
Clinton, as president, could try to invoke broad constitutional immunity from prosecution, delaying her criminal trial until after she leaves office. Or she could pardon herself.
However, all of that may not matter much if a Republican House of Representatives moves to impeach her. Neither immunity nor pardons apply to the ultimate constitutional remedy of impeachment.
Thus, Americans will again be forced to suffer through another impeachment horror show. But Hillary may not be able to beat the rap the way her husband did back in 1999 when he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice.
What began as an investigation into the mishandling of classified documents… has now morphed into suspicions of rampant corruption involving Clinton’s charity. Specifically, that she used her position as Secretary of State to confer benefits to donors who lavished money on her foundation and personally enriched the Clintons. And the case against her is accelerating.
It was inevitable, I suppose, that her emails would intersect somehow with the incredible wealth amassed by the Clintons since they left the White House. There’s always a paper trail. Or pesky emails.
Or, in the case of Richard Nixon, those damnable tapes.
Two Investigations Merge
Hillary Clinton used her unauthorized, private email server not only to conduct State Department business involving thousands of classified documents, but it appears she also used the server for some of her foundation’s communications. The FBI has devoted more than a year to investigating whether the Clintons illegally leveraged their foundation for personal gain -- that is into tens of millions of dollars in potential self-dealing and so-called “pay-to-play”.
As I pointed out in a previous column, all of this, if proved, could constitute bribery, fraud, and illegal use of a non-profit charity which smacks of racketeering.
What’s that? Operating a criminal enterprise. It is often associated with organized crime. (See “mafia”) There is also the related matter of perjury. And obstruction of justice. The same charges that were leveled against Bill Clinton back in the day.
Importantly, the newly discovered Weiner/Abedin electronic devices appear to contain email evidence relevant to both the classified documents case and the Clinton Foundation case. In addition, sources confirm that laptops belonging to Clinton’s top aides, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, are now in the possession of the FBI and are being “exploited for more evidence.” The floodgates are open.
While the foundation probe is now center stage, a reinvigorated look at whether Clinton mishandled classified documents has obviously been resurrected. It is possible that FBI Director Comey could reconsider his opinion of Clinton’s legal “intent” under the Espionage Act and reverse himself in his recommendation on prosecuting Clinton. Sources say there is a 99 percent chance that up to 5 foreign intelligence agencies may have accessed Clinton’s emails and stolen them, putting a lie to President Obama’s claim that Clinton did not jeopardize national security.
The Clinton Foundation
As "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace pointed out in the final debate, “emails show that donors got special access” to Clinton while Secretary of State. While that is surely unseemly or improper, it is illegal only if Clinton used her position to confer a benefit in exchange for money. That is, if donors rewarded Clinton with cash.
So, here is an example of what might be illegal. It has been reported that Clinton helped UBS avoid the IRS. Bill then got paid $ 1.5 million dollars and their foundation received a ten-fold increase in donations by the bank. If the money was a reward for Clinton’s work on behalf of UBS, then that could be considered bribery under federal law. And racketeering.
Another example: it has been reported that Clinton’s state department approved billions of dollars in arms sales to several nations whose governments gave money to the Clinton Foundation. Again, if it can be proven there was a quid-pro-quo, it would be illegal.
This is where the WikiLeaks hacked emails come into play. Messages show that charity official Doug Band, while raising money for the foundation, also steered millions of dollars to Bill Clinton. The cash came from foundation donors who had business before Hillary’s state department. Band’s emails, in which he brags about his prowess in funneling up to $66 million to Bill, make explicit how the Clintons appear to have used their foundation for personal profit.
Organized crime and Illegal syndicates tend to use legitimate-looking businesses as a “front” to try to fool law enforcement. Often, they devise a “dual purpose” company -- one which operates lawfully from the front door, but unlawfully out the backdoor. There is little doubt that the Clinton Foundation operated as a charity. But if there was a secondary, hidden purpose devoted to self-dealing and personal enrichment, and if the foundation was merely a conduit, then prosecution could be pursued under federal anti-corruption statutes.
Did DOJ Obstruct The FBI?
It’s beginning to look that way. Even after Comey announced in July that he would not recommend prosecuting Clinton, the investigation into her foundation was still being actively pursued by some agents within the FBI. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department became angry over this and agents were told to “stand down.” Whether that happened is disputed.
However, it appears that FBI agents wanted to examine emails on non-government laptops that were part of the Clinton classified documents case. They felt there might be evidence that the foundation was being used illegally by the Clintons, as noted above. But Justice Department prosecutors allegedly stopped them from doing it.
Why? Was Justice protecting Clinton? Can we be assured that the renewed investigation of Clinton won’t be obstructed by an attorney general with allegiances to both Hillary and Bill Clinton?
Time For an Independent Counsel
Given these reports of DOJ’s interference, there are serious and legitimate doubts about the integrity of the government’s ability to investigation Clinton.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch was compromised from the beginning. She was first elevated to the position of U.S. Attorney by Bill Clinton. She met privately with him just days before a decision was made as to whether his wife would be prosecuted.
As if that were not enough, Lynch’s boss, President Obama, defended Clinton publicly last April on "Fox News Sunday" by declaring, in essence, she did not break the law. He made the same argument during an earlier “60 Minutes” interview. He prejudged the outcome of the case.
This sent a pretty clear message to those in charge of just how the president wanted the question of prosecution to turn out. Now, it appears that Lynch’s Department is heeding that message by actively obstructing the FBI’s investigation.
The attorney general has failed or refused to appoint a Special Prosecutor to ensure that these investigations are fair and impartial. President Obama could demand one, as well. He likely will not. His conflict of interest is as glaring as Lynch’s.
After all, the president has been campaigning vigorously for Clinton to succeed him. Why would he now jeopardize the chance of preserving or even burnishing his legacy? Donald Trump is vowing, if elected, to unwind much of what Mr. Obama has accomplished.
Therefore, it is up to Congress to reauthorize the Independent Counsel Act to accomplish the same. It would direct the attorney general to petition the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to appoint one. No choice.
Sadly, this may be the only way the public’s trust can be restored.
Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News legal analyst and former defense attorney.