EXCLUSIVE: A top prosecutor on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team discouraged the FBI from pursuing an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in 2016 due to what he viewed as negligible evidence, despite multiple Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) related to hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign transactions, Fox News Digital has learned.
Ray Hulser, the former chief of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section (PIN), who serves on Smith’s team currently prosecuting former President Trump, was identified as the official who “declined prosecution” of the Clinton Foundation in 2016 in Special Counsel John Durham’s report.
According to the Durham report, in January 2016, “three different FBI field offices, the New York Field Office, the Washington Field Office, and the Little Rock Field Office, opened investigations into possible criminal activity involving the Clinton Foundation.”
The report reveals that the case was opened referring to an intelligence product and corroborating financial reporting that a particular commercial “industry likely engaged a federal public official in a flow of benefits scheme, namely, large monetary contributions were made to a non-profit, under both direct and indirect control of the federal public official, in exchange for favorable government action and/or influence.”
The investigation out of Washington was opened as a “preliminary investigation, because the case agent wanted to determine if he could develop additional information to corroborate allegations in a recently-published book, ‘Clinton Cash’ by Peter Schweizer, before seeking to convert the matter to a full investigation,” the report states.
But the New York and Little Rock investigations included predication “based on source reporting that identified foreign governments that had made, or offered to make, contributions to the Foundation in exchange for favorable or preferential treatment from Clinton.”
The Durham report revealed that because three different FBI field offices opened investigations related to the Clinton Foundation, there was a “perceived need to conduct coordination meetings between the field offices, FBI Headquarters, and appropriate U.S. Attorney’s offices,” as well as “components” from main Justice Department.
“These meetings likely were deemed especially important given that the investigations were occurring in an election year in which Clinton was a declared candidate for President,” the report states, including details from those meetings.
One meeting detailed in the report took place on Feb. 1, 2016. Present for that meeting were several FBI officials, as well as Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell and Hulser, who, at the time, was Public Integrity Section chief.
Durham interviewed Hulser as part of his investigation. Hulser told Durham that the FBI briefing on the Clinton Foundation was “poorly presented and that there was insufficient predication for at least one of the investigations due to its reliance on allegations contained in a book.”
“Hulser downplayed information provided by the New York Field Office CHS [confidential human source] and recalled that the amount involved in the financial reporting was ‘de minimus,’” the report states.
However, Durham’s team reviewed the financial reporting to better “understand the allegations.”
“The reporting, which in itself is not proof of wrongdoing, was a narrative describing multiple funds transfers, some of which involved international bank accounts that were suspected of facilitating bribery or gratuity violations,” the Durham report states in a footnote. “The transactions involved occurred between 2012 and 2014, and totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The Durham report does not explicitly state the words “Suspicious Activity Report,” however, the activity described is that which would normally be the subject of such reports.
A source familiar with the matter, however, told Fox News Digital that there were multiple SARs filed related to the Clinton Foundation during that time. In 2012, Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.
Banks have a duty to file SARs, but it is up to the Justice Department to determine if there is any criminality.
Due to the Clinton name, the Clinton Foundation or Clinton-related accounts likely had a “PEP” designation within financial institutions. PEP is short for politically exposed person, meaning the individual, through their prominent position or relationships, could be more susceptible to being involved in bribery or corruption.
The Hunter Biden federal criminal investigation was predicated, in part, by SARs on funds from “China and other foreign nations.” Those SARs have been reviewed as part of the House impeachment inquiry against President Biden, led by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Ways & Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo.
Meanwhile, the Durham report states that during the February 2016 meeting, Hulser “declined prosecution” of the Clinton Foundation on behalf of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.
Hulser told Durham during his interview, though, that he “made it clear” that “his decision was not binding on the various U.S. Attorneys’ Offices or FBI field divisions.”
In interviewing another individual present for the meeting, Durham learned that the Justice Department’s reaction to the Clinton Foundation briefing was “hostile.”
“There are mega indications that the Obama Justice Department slow-walked and discouraged the Clinton Foundation investigation, including discouraging the FBI from pursuing it,” former federal prosecutor and Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy said.
With regard to Hulser, McCarthy told Fox News Digital that “it has been obvious from the beginning that the decision by the Biden Justice Department to appoint a special counsel was utterly political and done to create distance between the attorney general and the president from the decision to bring charges against Trump, that Smith has conducted it throughout with an eye on the election calendar.”
“Nobody should be surprised if people on Smith’s staff have been involved in situations that make it politically conflicting for them to be involved in this,” McCarthy said.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges stemming from Smith’s investigation related to both Jan. 6 and 2020 election interference, as well as his case related to classified records.
Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office declined to comment on this story.
As for the Clinton Foundation probes, in another meeting in February 2016, then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe “initially directed the field offices to close their cases, but following objections, agreed to reconsider the final disposition of the cases.”
According to current Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate’s interview with Durham’s team, he recalled McCabe stating that the DOJ said “there’s nothing here” and “why are we even doing this?”
At the end of the meeting, it was announced that for “any overt investigative steps to be taken,” McCabe’s approval “would be required.”
Meanwhile, by May 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey directed the FBI’s New York Field Office to “cease and desist” from the Clinton Foundation investigation due to “some undisclosed counterintelligence concern.”
Durham was “not able to determine what the counterintelligence issue raised by Comey was.”
By August 2016, a meeting was held to direct that the Washington and Little Rock investigations “be closed and consolidated” into the New York investigation. But during the meeting, U.S. attorneys’ offices “declined to issue subpoenas.”
Durham included this information in his report to show “the contrast” between how the FBI handled Clinton matters in comparison to the Trump-Russia probe, known internally as “Crossfire Hurricane.”
“As an initial matter, the NYFO and WFO investigations appear to have been opened as preliminary investigations due to the political sensitivity and their reliance on unvetted hearsay information (the Clinton Cash book) and [confidential human source reporting],” the report states. “By contrast, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was immediately opened as a full investigation despite the fact that it was similarly predicated on hearsay information.”
Durham added that while the DOJ appeared to have had “legitimate concerns” about the Clinton Foundation investigation occurring so close to the presidential election, “it does not appear that similar concerns were expressed by the Department or FBI regarding the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.
Durham found that the FBI “failed to act” on a “clear warning sign” that the bureau was the “target” of a Hillary Clinton-led effort to “manipulate or influence the law enforcement process for political purposes” against Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Hulser was the top prosecutor for the government’s 2015 corruption case against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez – which was dismissed after a hung jury failed to reach a verdict. He also was involved in the Justice Department’s prosecution of former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the January 6 committee.