— -- The FBI and Justice Department have reenergized an investigation into the Clinton Foundation that started under the Obama administration, two U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News Friday.
The case -- run out of the FBI’s field office in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the foundation has offices in the William J. Clinton Presidential Center -- was never officially closed, though it has picked up pace in the past several months, according to one U.S. official.
The FBI office in Arkansas declined to comment on the matter.
In November, after months of Republican lawmakers clamoring for a special counsel to investigate alleged crimes related to the foundation and other matters, the DOJ sent a letter back to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, disclosing that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate” their requests.
Among other things, the DOJ letter said prosecutors will determine whether any new investigations should be opened and “whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources.” The reference to “matters currently under investigation” is referring to the Clinton Foundation probe.
Craig Minassian, a spokesperson for the foundation, said in a statement, “Time after time, the Clinton Foundation has been subjected to politically motivated allegations, and time after time these allegations have been proven false. None of this has made us waver in our mission to help people. 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. There are real issues in our society needing attention that the Clinton Foundation works hard to solve every day. So we're going to stay focused on what really matters.”
President Donald Trump, both as a candidate and in office, has repeatedly called for his former political rival to be investigated for alleged “pay to play” crimes -- that is, donations made to the foundation and potential actions taken by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sessions assured the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing last January that he would recuse himself from any matters involving the Clinton Foundation. As a top Trump campaign adviser, the former Alabama senator told CNN in August 2016 that Clinton had committed “a fundamental violation of law,” which “does appear to have happened here.”
"Let’s call this what it is: A sham," Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill said of the ramped-up investigation of the foundation. “This is a philanthropy that does life-changing work, which Republicans have tried to turn into a political football. It began with a long-debunked project spearheaded by [former Trump adviser] Steve Bannon during the presidential campaign. It continues with Jeff Sessions doing Trump’s bidding by heeding his calls to meddle with a department that is supposed to function independently. The goal is to distract from the indictments, guilty pleas, and accusations of treason from Trump’s own people at the expense of our justice system’s integrity. It’s disgraceful, and should be concerning to all Americans.”
The recent development in the Clinton Foundation probe was first reported by The Hill.
Calls for a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton-related matters have grown in recent months. All of this comes as special counsel Robert Mueller has continued to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, with two indictments and a guilty plea of senior campaign aides already secured.