Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he intends to retire at the end of his term in 2017. But he may still face legal pressure before he leaves.
Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, a leading legal expert on the prosecution and defense of white collar criminals, tells Breitbart News there is enough public evidence to launch a criminal investigation of Reid.
“Here’s the issue,” diGenova tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview. “Because his son was involved representing the SLS Casino and Hotel that sought the expedited EB-5 visa processing from the Department of Homeland Security, and because Harry Reid intervened personally, there is obviously the appearance of impropriety here.”
“The Senate Ethics Committee, if it examines this independently, would see this as an instance of Reid ‘bringing reproach upon the Senate.’”
“But there is also the issue of criminal conduct. This requires further investigation,” diGenova says.
“There is no doubt in my mind,” diGenova continues, “that an independent Department of Justice or an independent U.S. Attorney would open a preliminary criminal investigation into Harry Reid’s intervention into the expediting of EB-5 visas and would in addition convene a grand jury.”
“I would open a grand jury on this in a New York minute,” diGenova says.
Earlier in the week, the Department of Homeland Security’s [DHS] Inspector General issued a scathing report that concluded “Reid pressured a compliant DHS official to override normal departmental procedures and rush through 230 EB-5 foreign visa applications, thereby freeing up $115 million the applicants invested in the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas [SLS].”
Breitbart News reported that “the owner of that casino project had hired Reid’s son, Rory Reid, to provide legal representation for the project.” The younger Reid represented SLS during 2012 and 2013, the same time his father intervened in the DHS EB-5 foreign visa application process on behalf of SLS.
On Thursday, the public interest advocacy group Cause of Action called on the Department of Justice to launch a criminal investigation into Reid’s intervention in the DHS EB-5 visa program.
“There is a pattern of behavior here by Harry Reid,” according to diGenova. “He’s not just a Senator. He’s the former Majority Leader, now the Minority Leader who controls the budget of DHS.”
“This fact pattern is particularly disturbing because the conduct is so brazen. Senator Reid is acting with impunity,” diGenova notes.
As Breitbart News reported, Reid conducted a similar intervention in August 2012 when he hosted a meeting between Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. At the meeting, Menendez made the case for his friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was at the time embroiled in what was supposed to be an independent adjudicatory process at HHS involving $8.9 million the department said he overbilled Medicare.
Notably, Reid arranged the meeting immediately after Melgen donated $300,000 to the Senate Majority PAC, a Super PAC that has close ties to Reid. By the end of 2012, Melgen’s donations to the Senate Majority PAC totaled $700,000.
DiGenova says Reid’s most recent case of blatant and aggressive intervention, this time in the Department of Homeland Security’s adjudication process, is troubling.
“Harry Reid’s intervention in the issuance of EB-5 visas raises very serious red flags of criminal conspiracy,” diGenova says.
While Reid’s conduct raises a red flag for former U.S. Attorney diGenova, the DOJ appears to be turning a blind eye to his troublesome behavior.
Indeed, the DOJ’s lack of interest in Reid, compared to its investigation of Senator Menendez, a well known critic of President Obama’s foreign policy, and the recent announcement of an FBI investigation into disgraced Republican Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) seems to back the perception that, under President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the DOJ has become highly politicized.
Press reports indicate that the grand jury that has been investigating Menendez for several months will soon return a bill of indictment against him on corruption charges.
DiGenova has a suggestion for Republicans in Congress who have yet to distinguish themselves for successfully going after any of the multiple cases of Obama administration corruption:
“Republicans in charge of Senate and House oversight committees should conduct hearings and investigations on Harry Reid’s intervention in the issuanceof EB-5 visas by DHS,” diGenova says.
“They should conduct those hearings the same way Democrats have in the past, by using the power of subpoena to compel testimony and obtain documents. They should issue subpoenas, too,” diGenova advises.
While Republicans control both the House and Senate in the current Congress, they have yet to use the power of subpoena effectively. The Harry Reid case provides plentiful opportunities to change that pattern of ineffectiveness.
DiGenova has some suggestions as to whom the Republicans should target as witnesses with those subpoenas.
“They should subpoena Terry McAuliffe, Rory Reid, investors in the SLS Casino and Hotel financial offerings, and anyone involved in this,” diGenova suggests.
DiGenova served as the U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia for four years. While there, “he supervised complex Federal criminal and civil matters including international drug smuggling, public corruption, espionage, insider trading, tax fraud, extradition, fraud, RICO, export control and international terrorism.”
DiGenova is currently a founding partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm diGenova & Toensing.