Felony mishandling of classified information, including our nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets; the misappropriation and destruction of tens of thousands of government records — these are serious criminal offenses. To this point, the Justice Department and FBI have found creative ways not to charge Hillary Clinton for them. Whether this will remain the case has yet to be seen. As we go to press, the stunning news has broken that the FBI’s investigation is being reopened. It appears, based on early reports, that in the course of examining communications devices in a separate “sexting” investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the bureau stumbled on relevant e-mails — no doubt connected to Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s wife and, more significantly, Mrs. Clinton’s closest confidant. According to the New York Times, the FBI has seized at least one electronic device belonging to Ms. Abedin as well. New e-mails, never before reviewed by the FBI, have been recovered.
The news is still emerging, and there will be many questions — particularly if it turns out that the bureau failed to obtain Ms. Abedin’s communications devices earlier in the investigation, a seemingly obvious step. As we await answers, we can only observe that, whatever the FBI has found, it was significant enough for director James Comey to sense the need to notify Congress, despite knowing what a bombshell this would be just days before the presidential election.
One thing, however, is already clear. Whatever the relevance of the new e-mails to the probe of Clinton’s classified-information transgressions and attempt to destroy thousands of emails, these offenses may pale in comparison with Hillary Clinton’s most audacious violations of law: Crimes that should still be under investigation; crimes that will, in fitting Watergate parlance, be a cancer on the presidency if she manages to win on November 8.
Mrs. Clinton appears to have converted the office of secretary of state into a racketeering enterprise. This would be a violation of the RICO law — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1971 (codified in the U.S. penal code at sections 1961 et seq.).
Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, operated the Clinton Foundation. Ostensibly a charity, the foundation was a de facto fraud scheme to monetize Hillary’s power as secretary of state (among other aspects of the Clintons’ political influence). The scheme involved (a) the exchange of political favors, access, and influence for millions of dollars in donations; (b) the circumvention of campaign-finance laws that prohibit political donations by foreign sources; (c) a vehicle for Mrs. Clinton to shield her State Department e-mail communications from public and congressional scrutiny while she and her husband exploited the fundraising potential of her position; and (d) a means for Clinton insiders to receive private-sector compensation and explore lucrative employment opportunities while drawing taxpayer-funded government salaries.
While the foundation did perform some charitable work, this camouflaged the fact that contributions were substantially diverted to pay lavish salaries and underwrite luxury travel for Clinton insiders. Contributions skyrocketed to $126 million in 2009, the year Mrs. Clinton arrived at Foggy Bottom. Breathtaking sums were “donated” by high-rollers and foreign governments that had crucial business before the State Department. Along with those staggering donations came a spike in speaking opportunities and fees for Bill Clinton. Of course, disproportionate payments and gifts to a spouse are common ways of bribing public officials — which is why, for example, high-ranking government officeholders must reveal their spouses’ income and other asset information on their financial-disclosure forms.
While there are other egregious transactions, the most notorious corruption episode of Secretary Clinton’s tenure involves the State Department’s approval of a deal that surrendered fully one-fifth of the United States’ uranium-mining capacity to Vladimir Putin’s anti-American thugocracy in Russia.
The story, significant background of which predates Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, has been recounted in ground-breaking reporting by the Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer (in his remarkable book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich) and the New York Times. In a nutshell, in 2005, under the guise of addressing the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan (where the disease is nearly nonexistent), Bill Clinton helped his Canadian billionaire pal Frank Giustra to convince the ruling despot, Nursultan Nazarbayev (an infamous torturer and human-rights violator), to grant coveted uranium-mining rights to Giustra’s company, Ur-Asia Energy (notwithstanding that it had no background in the highly competitive uranium business). Uranium is a key component of nuclear power, from which the United States derives 20 percent of its total electrical power.
In the months that followed, Giustra gave an astonishing $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $100 million more. With the Kazakh rights secured, Ur-Asia was able to expand its holdings and attract new investors, like Ian Telfer, who also donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Ur-Asia merged with Uranium One, a South African company, in a $3.5 billion deal — with Telfer becoming Uranium One’s chairman. The new company proceeded to buy up major uranium assets in the United States.
Meanwhile, as tends to happen in dictatorships, Nazarbayev (the Kazakh dictator) turned on the head of his state-controlled uranium agency (Kazatomprom), who was arrested for selling valuable mining rights to foreign entities like Ur-Asia/Uranium One. This was likely done at the urging of Putin, the neighborhood bully whose state-controlled atomic-energy company (Rosatom) was hoping to grab the Kazakh mines — whether by taking them outright or by taking over Uranium One.
The Russian company sought to acquire a controlling interest in Uranium One. That would mean a takeover not only of the Kazakh mines but of the U.S. uranium assets as well. Secretary Clinton approved the Russian takeover.
The arrest, which happened a few months after Obama took office, sent Uranium One stock into free fall, as investors fretted that the Kazakh mining rights would be lost. Uranium One turned to Secretary Clinton’s State Department for help. As State Department cables disclosed by WikiLeaks show, Uranium One officials wanted more than a U.S. statement to the media; they pressed for written confirmation that their mining licenses were valid. Secretary Clinton’s State Department leapt into action: An energy officer from the U.S. embassy immediately held meetings with the Kazakh regime. A few days later, it was announced that Russia’s Rosatom had purchased 17 percent of Uranium One. Problem solved.
Except it became a bigger problem when the Russian company sought to acquire a controlling interest in Uranium One. That would mean a takeover not only of the Kazakh mines but of the U.S. uranium assets as well. Such a foreign grab requires approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a powerful government tribunal that the secretary of state sits on and heavily influences. Though she had historically postured as a hawk against foreign acquisitions of American assets with critical national-security implications, Secretary Clinton approved the Russian takeover of Uranium One. During and right after the big-bucks Russian acquisition, Telfer contributed $1.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Other people with ties to Uranium One appear to have ponied up as much as $5.6 million in donations.
In 2009, the incoming Obama administration had been deeply concerned about the potential for corruption were Hillary to run the State Department while Bill and their family foundation were hauling in huge payments from foreign governments, businesses, and entrepreneurs. For precisely this reason, the White House required Mrs. Clinton to agree in writing that the Clinton Foundation would annually disclose its major donors and seek pre-approval from the White House before the foundation accepted foreign contributions. This agreement was repeatedly flouted — for example, by concealing the contributions from Telfer. Indeed, the foundation was recently forced to refile its tax returns for the years that Secretary Clinton ran the State Department after media reports that it failed to disclose foreign donations — approximately $20 million worth.
Under RICO, an “enterprise” can be any association of people, informal or formal, illegitimate or legitimate — it could be a Mafia family, an ostensibly charitable foundation, or a department of government. It is a racketeering enterprise if its affairs are conducted through “a pattern of racketeering activity.” A “pattern” means merely two or more violations of federal or state law; these violations constitute “racketeering activity” if they are included among the extensive list of felonies laid out in the statute.
Significantly for present purposes, the listed felonies include bribery, fraud, and obstruction of justice. Fraud encompasses both schemes to raise money on misleading pretexts (e.g., a charitable foundation that camouflages illegal political payoffs) and schemes to deprive Americans of their right to the honest services of a public official (e.g., quid pro quo arrangements in which official acts are performed in exchange for money). Both fraud and obstruction can be proved by false statements — whether they are public proclamations (e.g., “I turned over all work-related e-mails to the State Department”) or lies to government officials (e.g., concealing “charitable” donations from foreign sources after promising to disclose them, or claiming not to know that the “(C)” symbol in a government document means it is classified at the confidential level).
The WikiLeaks disclosures of e-mails hacked from Clinton presidential-campaign chairman John Podesta provide mounting confirmation that the Clinton Foundation was orchestrated for the purpose of enriching the Clintons personally and leveraging then-Secretary Clinton’s power to do it. Hillary and her underlings pulled this off by making access to her contingent on Clinton Foundation ties; by having top staff service Clinton Foundation donors and work on Clinton Foundation business; by systematically conducting her e-mail communications outside the government server system; by making false statements to the public, the White House, Congress, the courts, and the FBI; and by destroying thousands of e-mails — despite congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act demands — in order to cover up (among other things) the shocking interplay between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
Under federal law, that can amount to running an enterprise by a pattern of fraud, bribery, and obstruction. If so, it is a major crime. Like the major crimes involving the mishandling of classified information and destruction of government files, it cries out for a thorough and credible criminal investigation. More important, wholly apart from whether there is sufficient evidence for criminal convictions, there is overwhelming evidence of a major breach of trust that renders Mrs. Clinton unfit for any public office, let along the nation’s highest public office.