Going under the radar this week is a House subcommittee hearing that looks into possible financial irregularities by the Clinton Foundation. I suppose it makes sense that it’s not in the headlines, given the fact that the Mueller investigation seems to be sucking up all the air in the room.
However, it’s something that you can bet Bill and Hillary Clinton are paying attention to.
That’s because in one the documents being presented to the subcommittee will be comments from the Clinton Foundation’s longtime chief financial officer, Andrew Kessel.
According to The Hill’s John Solomon, Kessel is quoted as saying he was “unable to stop former President Clinton from ‘commingling’ personal business and charitable activities inside the foundation and that he ‘knows where all the bodies are buried.’”
Well, that doesn’t sound good.
So here’s the skinny, according to Solomon: About a year ago, a firm called MDA Analytics LLC filed a 6,000-page whistleblower report on the Clinton Foundation.
They “alleged the Clinton Foundation engaged in illegal activities and may be liable for millions of dollars in delinquent taxes and penalties,” according to Solomon.
“In addition to the IRS, the firm’s partners have had contact with prosecutors in the main Justice Department in Washington and FBI agents in Little Rock, Arkansas. And last week, a federal prosecutor suddenly asked for documents from their private investigation.”
Well, that doesn’t sound good again.
“There is probable cause that the Clinton Foundation has run afoul of IRS rules regarding tax-exempt charitable organizations and has acted inconsistently with its stated purpose,” MDA alleged.
“The Foundation should be investigated for all of the above-mentioned improprieties. The tax rules, codes, statutes and the rule of law should and must be applied in this case.”
As Solomon notes, Kessel met with both MDA investigators and the FBI in late 2016 and 2017, respectively. During both interviews, he refused to implicate the Clinton Foundation or the former president in any illegal activities.
However, Kessel did say some fairly curious things to MDA when he met with its people in November of 2016. Kessel said that “one of the biggest problems was Mr. Clinton’s commingling and use of business and donated funds and his personal expenses.”
“There is no controlling Bill Clinton. He does whatever he wants and runs up incredible expenses with foundation funds,” Kessel said. “Bill Clinton mixes and matches his personal business with that of the foundation. Many people within the foundation have tried to caution him about this but he does not listen, and there really is no talking to him.”
Well, that really, really doesn’t sound good.
The foundation tried to shrug it off, noting that Kessel “strongly denies that he said or suggested that the Clinton Foundation or President Clinton engaged in inappropriate or illegal activities.”
“Mr. Kessel believed he was meeting an old professional acquaintance who was looking for business from the Foundation,” the foundation said in a statement.
The foundation, according to Solomon, acknowledged “that the internal reviews cited in the submission were authentic and did in fact flag issues that the foundation has tried to address, including major governance changes made public in 2013.”
They also struck back, arguing that the Clinton Foundation had been put under a microscope in the past.
“The Clinton Foundation has been one of the most heavily scrutinized charitable organizations in the world, and subjected to outrageous, politically motivated allegations that have been proven false time and time again,” a statement from the foundation read.
“Critics continue to resurrect these false claims to try to damage the reputation of the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation. The fact is, the Clinton Foundation has demonstrably improved the lives of millions of people across America and around the world, while earning top ratings from charity watchdog groups in the process.”
Just don’t ask the people of Haiti, or Clinton, about where their money went. But I digress.
Solomon was apparently anticipating this and asked six former federal investigators for their opinion on the filings. Apparently, they didn’t think it was critics resurrecting false claims to damage the Clintons and their foundation.
“It is a very good roadmap for investigation,” retired FBI supervisory agent Jeffrey Danik told Solomon. Danik is described as “a prior practicing certified public accountant who helped the bureau make some of its most complex financial fraud and terrorism cases during a 29-year career.”
“When you have the organization’s own lawyers using words like ‘quid pro quo,’ ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘whistleblower protections,’ you have enough to get permission to start interviewing and asking questions,” Danik said.
The only problem he saw was that some of the documents were marked as attorney-client privileged, meaning that they would need a special type of permission in order to view them.
“Given that (special counsel Robert) Mueller got the OK to investigate Michael Cohen and his attorney-client communications with President Trump, I imagine that hurdle could be overcome under the crime-fraud exception,” Danik said.
Is it really that serious? Well, this evidence is going before a GOP-led congressional subcommittee with Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and member of the House Freedom Caucus, at the helm.
And, given what Kessel told MDA and the FBI, it might be a very bad week for the Clintons — particularly when the words “quid pro quo” are getting tossed around. After all, it may feel like a generation ago, but some people still remember all of the shady money from random despotisms they used to get — and seem to not get so often anymore.
Also, kudos to John Huber. He was the special U.S. attorney appointed last year to look into the Clintons’ arrangements. In a quiet fashion, he seems to have assembled a fairly decent case. The key word is quietly, which is not what a certain special counsel is interested in doing.
In closing, we might wonder how serious this is. Well, let me put it this way: When even your former CFO is willing to throw you under the bus, that’s not a good sign. Things may be about to get very ugly for the Clintons. Again.
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