Investigation into Hillary Clinton pushed by Trump comes up empty after two years: report

"As time went on, a lot of people just forgot about it,” one senior DOJ official says

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published January 10, 2020 11:10AM (EST)

 (AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

A Department of Justice investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed by President Donald Trump is winding down, finding nothing of consequence after two years, The Washington Post reports.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions tasked U.S. Attorney John Huber in 2017 with reviewing Trump’s claims that the FBI had not fully investigated possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s time as secretary of state when the Obama administration chose not to block the sale of a company called Uranium One. Trump claimed that Clinton “gave” Russia “20 percent of our uranium,” which drew “Four Pinocchios” from The Washington Post’s fact-checkers.

But the Justice Department pursued the investigation for more than two years, along with matters related to the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s email server and alleged leaks.

“Your recommendations should include whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” Sessions wrote at the time he appointed Huber to lead the probe.

The Post reported on Friday that “Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing,” though the probe has not been formally wrapped up.

Senior Justice Department officials now say they never expected the investigation to lead to anything major.

“We didn’t expect much of it, and neither did he,” one source familiar with the matter told The Post. “And as time went on, a lot of people just forgot about it.”

After Sessions was forced out, then-acting Attorney General Matt Whittaker pressured Huber to be more “aggressive” in his work, but Huber “felt he had looked at everything he could and there was not much more to do,” The Post reported.

Trump and his allies’ claims about the Clinton Foundation stemmed from a 2015 opposition research book “Clinton Cash” by conservative writer Peter Schweizer, a discredited document not unlike the Steele dossier, which Trump and his allies have complained about.

The book alleged that the Clinton Foundation received large contributions in exchange for Clinton signing off on the Uranium One sale to a Russian company, even though the State Department was one of many agencies which reviewed the deal. There has been no evidence linking Clinton to the approval.

“In 2010, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the sale of the majority of the shares to the Russians. The State Department was one of nine agencies on the committee that approved the deal. The deal was also separately approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” wrote The Post’s fact-checkers. “There is no evidence Clinton herself got involved in the deal personally, and it is highly questionable that this deal even rose to the level of the secretary of state. Theoretically, as Schweizer says, Clinton could have intervened. But even then, it ultimately would have been Obama’s decision whether to suspend or block the deal.”

The Justice Department’s investigation is the latest probe into Trump’s conspiracy theories, which has come up empty. A State Department investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server similarly found no mishandling of classified information last year. A Justice Department’s inspector general investigation into the department’s handling of the Russia probe likewise found no evidence to corroborate Trump’s baseless claims that he was “spied” on and that the Russia investigation was launched out of bias against his candidacy.

Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have since hyped yet another investigation led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is investigating other aspects of the FBI’s Russia investigation. Durham even issued a rare statement slamming the inspector general probe. Democrats have called on Durham to resign, arguing that he and Barr are using the DOJ to politicize investigations at the behest of the president.

A letter signed by more than 10 House Democrats called for Barr and Durham to be ousted, because they allegedly “inappropriately interfered in independent Department of Justice investigations and intentionally used (their) positions to mislead the American public in defense of President Donald J. Trump.”

Barr, the lawmakers said, made “uncorroborated and inappropriate statements on the OIG report legitimize fringe conspiracy theories and erode public trust in the Justice Department’s credibility.” Durham, they said, “is equally as complicit.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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