WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley today asked the State Department for information on whether then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff sought help through official channels for a Bangladeshi businessman who also was a donor to the Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation. The allegations of special treatment include reports of a threatened IRS audit of the Bangladeshi prime minister’s son, living in the United States, if he did not help quash a Bangladeshi government investigation of the businessman and Clinton organization donor, Dr. Muhammad Yunus.
“As I wrote in my August 2016 letter to Department of Justice, federal law requires that executive branch employees be disqualified from matters that have a direct and predictable effect on the employee’s own financial interests or the financial interests of those persons or organizations with which the employee is affiliated, such as those of a spouse, unless the employee first obtains an individual waiver or a regulatory exemption applies,” Grassley wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Once again, Secretary Clinton’s actions have raised reasonable suspicions that she violated these rules and undermined the public’s confidence in the integrity of the State Department.”
Grassley wrote that emails show that State Department officials, including Clinton, and staff for the Clinton Foundation closely monitored an attempt to remove Yunus from his bank position in Bangladesh and that the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh sought meetings with the prime minister “to apply pressure in an attempt to end the investigation into Yunus.” The prime minister’s son said he was pressed multiple times by State Department officials to help end the investigation and that at one point, he was told “he may be audited by the IRS if he failed to use his influence to get his mother to drop the investigation into Yunus.”
“If the Secretary of State used her position to intervene in an independent investigation by a sovereign government simply because of a personal and financial relationship stemming from the Clinton Foundation rather than the legitimate foreign policy interests of the United States, then that would be unacceptable,” Grassley wrote. “Co-mingling her official position as Secretary of State with her family foundation would be similarly inappropriate. It is vital to determine whether the State Department had any role in the threat of an IRS audit against the son of the Prime Minister in retaliation for this investigation.”
Grassley asked for details of whether any State Department official directly or indirectly suggested an IRS audit over the Bangladeshi investigation, whether the matter has been referred to the State Department inspector general or Justice Department for review, for unredacted copies of all State Department emails attached to his letter, and for an interview by Grassley staff of the State Department staff member who allegedly mentioned the IRS audit over a failure to intervene in the Yunus case.
Grassley’s letter is available here.