The Department of Justice public integrity section that normally investigates criminal allegations against elected officials has stonewalled an FBI investigation into possible criminal acts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Sen. Mike Lee.
The criminal investigation, conducted by one Democrat and one Republican state prosecutor in Utah, stems from allegations by an indicted political donor and businessman. The Washington Times and ABC News report that the investigators have interviewed witnesses, gathered statements from the Congressional Record, looked into financial records and presented photographs that corroborate some of the charges.
However, the DOJ has so far declined a request by the FBI to open a full-fledged federal investigation using a grand jury and subpoenas to determine whether state and federal officials committed any federal crimes.
The allegations against Reid and Lee include accepting bribes in return for political favors. Lee is also accused of making false statements about his sale of a Utah home at a large loss to a political donor and federal contractor.
Salt Lake County chief prosecutor Sim Gill, a Democrat, said, “There are allegations, but they are very serious allegations and they need to be looked at by somebody. If true, or even if asserted, they truly should be investigated and put to rest, or be confirmed.”
Adding fuel to the fire is that Reid, not known for his warm feelings toward Republicans, helped Lee get his chief counsel, David Barlow, confirmed in 2011 as a U.S. attorney in Salt Lake City.
As a result, the entire federal prosecutors office in Utah was required to recuse itself from the corruption investigation regarding Lee and Reid, so Utah state prosecutors got a court order forcing the feds to turn over all the evidence to them.
Cynics might suggest that the corruption probe was meant to end when the federal prosecutors recused themselves, but state prosecutors have continued pushing the issue, which could put a lot of pressure on Reid, who has been a key player and supporter in many of the Obama Administration’s legally questionable actions in the past six years.
Reid’s last re-election resulted in accusations of voting machine fraud that were never properly investigated, and his connections to the gambling industry have long been the source of corruption rumors.
Lee has lately been seen as a rising star in Tea Party circles for his call to defund Obamacare, but he’s not nearly as insulated as Reid, and a corruption probe could be fatal to his career, particularly without Administration support.
Gill and his partner, Davis County chief prosecutor Troy Rawlings, praised the FBI for helping them make their case in state court, but Gill said the DOJ’s refusal to get involved has at least temporarily stymied the investigation: “We’re just two local prosecutors but everybody who was supposed to look at this evidence above us has made a decision not to, and by default left it to us to investigate and prosecute at the state level.”
The prosecutors have managed to get two very big fish on the hook, but the history of the Obama Administration suggests that if push comes to shove, the DOJ will push Lee under the bus.
The smart money says Reid will walk away free. The DOJ’s head, Attorney General Eric Holder, is himself being protected from congressional investigation by a presidential order, and there’s virtually no chance that the DOJ would let a key Administration henchman like Reid go down easily.
(It would be like Sauron willingly sacrificing one of the Nazgul when he had the option to just give up Wormtongue, to put a Tolkienesque spin on it.)
It’s getting so we really should have a dedicated Corruption Counter to keep track of all the criminal case the Obama Administration is stonewalling, covering up or outright quashing.