Get ready for a double shot of Clintonian intrigue, courtesy of a leak to the Washington Post. With new revelations about the catastrophic spillage from the home-brew e-mail server making headlines, the news of a subpoena from the State Department’s inspector general to the Clinton Foundation will broaden the focus to corruption. The subject of the probe appears to be Huma Abedin and the unusual double-employment situation that has already raised the ire of Republicans in Congress, and prompted questions about the use of government resources for Hillary Clinton’s political gain:
Investigators with the State Department issued a subpoena to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation last fall seeking documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from the federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state, according to people familiar with the subpoena and written correspondence about it.
The subpoena also asked for records related to Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide who for six months in 2012 was employed simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and a private consulting firm with ties to the Clintons.
The Post’s Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman remind readers that IGs do not conduct criminal probes, and have only limited subpoena powers. They cannot compel people to testify in depositions, for instance, although they can certainly facilitate that for willing witnesses. But they can demand documents, and that power might already have had an impact:
The potential consequences of the IG investigation are unclear. Unlike federal prosecutors, inspectors general have the authority to subpoena documents without seeking approval from a grand jury or a judge.
But their power is limited. They are able to obtain documents, but they cannot compel testimony. At times, IG inquiries result in criminal charges, but sometimes they lead to administrative review, civil penalties or reports that have no legal consequences.
Why does this matter? Fox News reported in January that the FBI expanded its probe of Hillary’s e-mail scandal to public corruption, and had “TDYed” a number of agents to investigate evidence along those lines. At the time, most assumed that the expansion might have been triggered by successful efforts in restoring some or all of the 30,000 deleted e-mails from Hillary’s secret server. However, this raises the possibility that the IG recovered documents showing that Abedin and Hillary broke other laws as well, or found evidence of other corrupt acts that could be corroborated by deleted e-mails, or both.
The fact that the subpoena apparently preceded the FBI’s expansion of their probe seems very significant — especially if the foundation itself is not the target of the probe, as the Post’s anonymous source at the foundation insists. There is no way that this is good news for Hillary. And the timing is about as bad as it can get, considering the shellacking Hillary took in New Hampshire largely on the basis of the lack of trustworthiness and honesty Democratic primary voters perceive in her.
And the timing will only get worse. A federal judge dismissed excuses from the State Department and ordered the release of the rest of Hillary’s e-mails — at least those that can be released — by the end of the month:
The government must disclose some of the emails on Feb. 13, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and Feb. 29,ordered Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District for the District of Columbia.
“The Court expects that Defendant will endeavor to avoid any additional delay,” Contreras said in his order, referring to the Obama administration.
The State Department became the target of Contreras’s ire this month, after it claimed that it would break its deadline to release all of Clinton’s 55,000 pages of emails by Jan. 29. In a court filing last month, the government claimed that it accidentally neglected to send roughly 3,700 emails to other federal agencies to review for information that should be redacted.
To quote Wilford Brinley in Absence of Malice … “Wonderful thing, subpoenas.”
Update: I erred on Rosalind Helderman’s name in the original post. It’s fixed now, and my apologies.