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Clinton Probe: 'I'd Say This is Going to be More a Tax Related Issue' - Scholar

© AP Photo / Alex BrandonFormer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, during The Atlantic Festival, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in Washington
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, during The Atlantic Festival, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in Washington - Sputnik International
US Attorney for Utah John Huber won't testify before the House Oversight Committee. This is what Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupic has said. Huber had been tasked by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the Clinton Foundation, which is accused of being entangled in multiple corruption schemes.

Radio Sputnik has discussed this with Dr Kyle Kopko, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Honours and Pre-Law Programs with Elizabethtown College.

Sputnik: Can you please talk about the situation where US attorney for Utah John Huber won't testify before the House panel on the Clinton probe, what is his reasoning do you think behind that?

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Dr Kyle Kopko: There's a couple of different things that could be at play here. First of all, if there is still an ongoing and active investigation it's unlikely that the US attorney would want to openly talk about that to maintain the integrity of the investigation. There could also be political reasons as well.

I think it's pretty clear that this is an effort by some Republicans in Congress to exercise some power during the lame duck session to try to get any evidence that they possibly can to link Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton to wrongdoing in relation to the Clinton Foundation and, perhaps, a pay-to-play scheme during then-Secretary Clinton's time at the State Department.

Sputnik: The Oversight Committee and other House panels will be transferred to Democratic control next month, how will that likely affect the probe into the Clinton Foundation?

Dr Kyle Kopko: I think there's two ways. First of all, I don't think it's likely that a committee controlled by Democrats would be calling forward US Attorney Huber to testify. This is definitely not going to be a priority for the Democrats, at least in the House of Representatives. So they're just not going to have any hearings on this matter. I would be very surprised if they did. Perhaps, in the Senate where that is still going to be controlled by Republicans, there might be some hearings around that.

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As far as the investigation is concerned, I think that is going to continue. That's going to be under the supervision of the Justice Department, which is, obviously, part of the Trump administration and it's been going on now for some time. This investigation was started at the direction of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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There is much more emphasis in the news media and on Capitol Hill over things like the Mueller investigation, the government shutdown, Democrats taking control of Congress and what divided government is going to look like under the Trump administration. So these are just more salient political issues, not that government corruption isn't an important issue at any given point in time, but given that Hillary Clinton is no longer a public official I think those other issues are taking priority over this one, even though there is still an active investigation underway.

Sputnik: Can you tell us, maybe elaborate a bit, on what exactly the Clinton association is being investigated for?

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Dr Kyle Kopko: There's a couple of different items. So basically there's allegations of wrongdoing in terms of the Clinton Foundation's spending and whether or not donations and personal expenses were co-mingled and also, particularly, if there was any sort of pay-per-play scheme when Hillary Clinton served as US Secretary of State. There's a lot of concern behind the sale of Uranium One to Russia and whether or not there were any quid pro quo arrangements where Secretary Clinton would've supported and advocated for that sale and other official actions as Secretary of State in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Sputnik: What does this probe, on the back of the probe into Donald Trump, what does it signal about the state of American politics? Does this kind of give everybody the feeling that there's a lot of corruption, that this is just the tip of the iceberg and is this being blown out a bit more?

Dr Kyle Kopko: In terms of corruption, I'm not quite sure. But I think it's safe to say that this is partisan politics on both sides; but there's also elements of truth, I think, in both situations and that's why there are active investigations ongoing and you have seasoned members of the Justice Department actively pursuing the probe against President Trump and his involvement with Russia during the campaign and also then-Secretary Clinton and her involvement in any pay-for-play schemes.

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Plus too, there is a popular perception of the Clintons being corrupt public officials at least among conservative voters and certainly, that's a message that President Trump has emphasised throughout the 2016 campaign and ever since he took office. So I think that too is playing a part into this larger scheme of the investigation.

Sputnik: How much incentive has been given by President Trump to really step up this probe?

Dr Kyle Kopko: I think that there is definitely a political strategy here where it benefits President Trump to not only raise this as a potential legitimate investigation issue and point out that there could be some unfairness in how he's being investigated and also just to provide a political distraction, to change the news media cycle. So I think that there are incentives there for President Trump to draw attention to this particular issue.

Sputnik: If the suspicions are actually confirmed through this probe regarding the Clinton association, what kind of consequences could these have for Hillary Clinton and for Bill Clinton?

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Dr Kyle Kopko: It's tough to say, depends on the exact nature of the criminal charges. Right now, it could be anything from tax violations, where it could be a matter of paying fines, or if this is more egregious where there were quid pro quo arrangements in regard to official actions as a government official certainly jail time could be a possibility there. If I had to guess though I'd probably say that this is going to be more so a tax-related issue regarding irregularities with finances and tax returns, but that's yet to be seen.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr Kyle Kopko and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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