Federal Law Enforcement Veterans Say RICO Can Take Down the Clintons

Veterans of the legal battle to bring down the mob call Clinton Foundation 'a classic RICO case'

by Edmund Kozak | Updated 03 Nov 2016 at 7:20 AM
The FBI’s reopened investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the newly exposed investigation into the Clinton Foundation have together taken a “very high priority,” Fox News reported Wednesday. The FBI could and should be investigating the Clinton Foundation and related enterprises for violating the RICO Act, multiple former federal law enforcement officials told LifeZette.
New York City is famous the world over for its Five Families of La Cosa Nostra — the Colombo, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno, and Genovese families — organized Italian-American criminal enterprises that for decades ruled much of the city with an iron fist.
“The more you see WikiLeaks … you see the breadth and scope of this conspiracy. It makes our taking down of organized crime in the 1980s … look like child’s play.
Ultimately, their power was crippled following the 1985-1986 Mafia Commission Trial, in which all of the bosses of the Five Families — along with 3 underbosses, one consigliere, and two soldiers — were indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law enacted in 1970 to specifically tackle organized crime.
RICO was devastatingly effective in bringing down the Italian Mafia, and it could also be used to take down New York City’s unofficial sixth organized crime family — the Clintons, whose Clinton Foundation is headquartered in New York’s Southern District. So say veterans of federal law enforcement.

“Just from what I’ve seen in the public domain, it’s a classic RICO case,” said James Kallstrom, former assistant director of the FBI.

Before his time as the FBI’s No. 2 man, Kallstrom was the lead agent in the New York field office during the Mafia Commission Trial.

“The more you see WikiLeaks … you see the breadth and scope of this conspiracy,” Kallstrom said. “It makes our taking down of organized crime in the 1980s, when we indicted the La Cosa Nostra, arrested all the families, and seized all the documents … look like child’s play,” he continued. “You could make a very strong RICO case against the Clinton Foundation and all of its minions.”
The RICO Act was introduced to address a fundamental loophole in the American legal system. Because of common law tradition, the U.S. legal system focuses on individual crimes perpetrated by individual actors, which can be proved by evidence related only to those individual crimes.
This ancient perspective on criminality meant that until the establishment of the RICO Act, the leader of a criminal syndicate who ordered an underling to commit a crime was exceptionally hard to charge with that crime.
But with the establishment of RICO, authorities could take down entire organized criminal enterprises and their leaders. Though the RICO Act, as its name suggests, focuses specifically on the crime of racketeering, it can and is often used to go after organizations involved in other types of criminal activity.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Clinton Foundation, coupled with the Clinton Global Initiative, constitute a criminal enterprise for purposes of the RICO statute,” Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who also has experience prosecuting RICO cases, told LifeZette.

To be charged under the RICO Act, authorities need to prove that a person committed at least two RICO predicates as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. These predicates include any violation of state or federal laws statutes covering crimes as varied as extortion, bribery, obstruction of justice, fraud, money laundering, and murder.
To open an investigation for violation of the RICO Act, authorities need only evidence that an organization has violated at least two of those predicate crimes. “There is just no doubt that there is more than enough predicate evidence now in the public record to open a grand jury on the Clinton Foundation,” diGenova said.
“The conduct that is known to date, particularly the conduct of [Bill Clinton], and the influence-peddling that has been at the heart of precisely why the foundation exists and the initiative exists shows a direct linkage between official State Department actions and donations to the foundation and the initiative,” said diGenova. “There’s just no doubt that there should have been a grand jury looking into this a long time ago.”
“The evidence now, whether it’s Morocco or … whether it’s the Ericcson company and their desire to get their telecom equipment not listed on the illegal sales list from the State Department, all of those things coupled together demand a grand jury,” diGenova continued.
“If you understand the Hobbs Act statute, you’ll understand the whole thing,” another former U.S. attorney, who wished to remain anonymous, told LifeZette.
Wayne A. Rich Jr., a former U.S. attorney who was deputy director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and has extensive experience in public corruption cases, also stressed the importance of the Hobbs Act. “The factual predicates are certainly there to justify a federal investigation including but not limited to the Hobbs Act and RICO,” Rich said.
The Hobbs Act, 18 U.S. Code Section 1951, prohibits the “interference with commerce by threats or violence” and was, like RICO, enacted to combat racketeering. It is also, like RICO, widely used to combat public corruption. The statute mandates a fine, twenty years imprisonment, or both for “whoever obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do.”
The specific violation which the Clinton family appears to have committed under the Hobbs Act is extortion. The act defines extortion as “means the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.”
The key phrase relevant to the conspiracy between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department is “color of official right,” which applies to the apparent quid pro quo in which Clinton’s State Department granted favors to foreign countries and companies in return for donations to her family’s foundation.
“Ostensibly a charity, the foundation was a de facto fraud scheme to monetize Hillary’s power as secretary of state,” explained former assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy, writing in the National Review.
A second RICO predicate crime which mountains of evidence seem to suggest the Clinton Conspiracy violated is 18 U.S. Code Section 1512, which prohibits “tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant.”
The statute covers the “intent to … cause or induce any person to (A) withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding; (B) alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.” This clearly describes the Clinton cabal’s attempts to conceal the use of a private email server and the deletion of tens of thousands of emails in an attempt to conceal their existence.
However, every former federal law enforcement official and agent who spoke to LifeZette said any legitimate RICO investigation into the Clinton Foundation would necessitate a cooperative Justice Department, a grand jury, and the coordination of multiple U.S. attorneys and multiple federal law enforcement agencies — unlike the FBI’s initial investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
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Indeed, the former federal law enforcement officials with whom LifeZette spoke said the FBI's original investigation into Clinton was highly irregular, and some even went as far as to call it a sham. But even if Clinton should win the presidency twice and manage to stonewall a legitimate investigation for eight years, she and her family's foundation still could, and — assuming an honest administration follows hers — likely will, face a RICO investigation.
Even if the Clinton Foundation were to shut its doors today, the Clintons could still face an investigation, as the RICO Act has an effective 10-year statute of limitations. "'Pattern of racketeering activity" requires at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within 10 years (excluding any period of imprisonment) after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity," the RICO Act states.