Feb. 11, 2016 3:20pm Carly Hoilman
Last fall investigators with the State Department issued a subpoena to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation requesting documents detailing certain projects that may have required approval from the federal government, the Washington Post reported. At the time, Hillary Clinton was still serving as secretary of state.
The order also asked for records on the Clintons’ longtime aide, Huma Abedin, who for six months was employed by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office and a private consulting firm tied to the Clintons in 2012.
A foundation representative, who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, said the initial document request had been refined by investigators and that the foundation is not the primary subject of the probe.
A State Inspector General spokesman, representatives for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Abedin refused to comment on that interpretation of the subpoena.
Clinton’s run for president has been plagued by an investigation into her controversial use of a private email server, accompanied by an FBI investigation into whether her system compromised national security.
There is no indication that the State IG is looking at Clinton. But as she continues to promote her leadership of the State Department in her presidential campaign, an inquiry involving Abedin and her relationship between Clinton’s agency and her family’s charity could further complicate her efforts.
When asked about the FBI probe at a debate last week, Clinton said she was “100 percent confident” nothing problematic would be revealed.
Clinton denied a Fox News report last month that claimed the FBI had expanded its investigation to include ties between the foundation and the State Department. She called it “an unsourced, irresponsible” report with “no basis.”
During Clinton’s time serving as Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation was led by her husband, former president Bill Clinton. After leaving office in February 2013, she joined its board and helped run it until announcing her presidential bid back in April.
Abedin served as deputy chief of staff at the State Department starting in 2009. For the second half of 2012, she participated in the “special government employee” program that enabled her to work simultaneously in the State Department, the foundation, Hillary Clinton’s personal office and Teneo, a private consultancy with close ties to the Clintons.
During the years Clinton served as secretary of state, the foundation was led by her husband, former president Bill Clinton. She joined its board after leaving office in February 2013 and helped run it until launching her White House bid in April.
Abedin has been a key figure in Clinton’s personal life and political career since the 1990s when she served as an intern for then-first lady Clinton while she attended George Washington University. Clinton has rarely been seen in public without Abedin since the start of her campaign.
The IG has investigated Abedin before. Last year, the watchdog found that she was overpaid nearly $10,000 and violated her sick leave and vacation policies, a discovery that Abedin and her attorneys have fought.
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images
Abedin served the State Department as deputy chief of staff starting in 2009. During the last six months of 2012, she participated in the “special government employee” program that enabled her to work simultaneously in the State Department, the foundation, Hillary Clinton’s personal office and Teneo, a private consulting firm linked to the Clintons.
Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), have suggested that Abedin’s intimate involvement in the Clintons’ overlapping public and private worlds created a potential conflict of interest.
That same group of lawmakers has accused foreign officials and others of giving large donations to the Clinton Foundation to gain favor with Clinton while she was serving as Secretary and exploring a potential presidential bid.
Both Clintons have dismissed such accusations, arguing that donors contributed to the $2 billion foundation to support its main missions: improving health care, education and environmental work around the world.
Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders has avoided these allegations throughout his campaign, though last spring, Sanders expressed worries about the Clinton Foundation being part of a political machine “dominated by money.”
Sanders has also largely avoided Clinton’s email scandal, saying at a debate last fall, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
The potential consequences of the IG investigation are unclear. Inspectors general may obtain documents, but they cannot demand testimony. Past IG inquiries have resulted in criminal charges, but they can also lead to administrative review, civil penalties or reports that have no legal repercussions.