Wall Street Journal: "New Emails Show Clinton Foundation Sought Access to State Department on Donors’ Behalf"
A federal judge prodded the State Department to quickly review a batch of 14,900 recently discovered emails as the controversy over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s correspondence while she served as America’s top diplomat continued to simmer.
Judge James Boasberg, in an order, set a deadline for the department to complete the email review by Sept. 22 to determine which ones contain sensitive government information and which are strictly personal conversations. That could pave the way for the emails to be released as early as mid-October.
The emails were found by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its probe of Mrs. Clinton’s use of private email when she was secretary of state. The FBI concluded in July that no crimes had been committed.
The judge’s request came on the same day as the release of a separate batch of emails showing a Clinton Foundation official seeking access to the department while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state.
Those emails, obtained through a lawsuit by a conservative watchdog group, kept the Clinton family’s charitable foundation in the limelight as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was attacking its activities.
In one email exchange, from June 2009, Doug Band of the Clinton Foundation wrote to Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Mrs. Clinton at the State Department, seeking a meeting between the crown prince of Bahrain and Mrs. Clinton.
“Cp of Bahrain in tomorrow to Friday. Asking to see her,” wrote Mr. Band, using shorthand for “crown prince.” Mr. Band, a longtime aide of former President Bill Clinton,added: “Good friend of ours.”
Ms. Abedin, who now works for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, responded that Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa had sought a meeting with Mrs. Clinton the previous week “thru normal channels,” and that the secretary of state had said she “doesn’t want to commit to anything for Thurs or Fri until she knows how she will feel.”
Two days later, Ms. Abedin wrote to Mr. Band again: “We have reached out thru official channels.”
The new emails show that while Mr. Band sought to pass along the wishes of donors, Ms. Abedin deferred to official channels. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the group Judicial Watch against the State Department. The 725 pages of emails from Mrs. Clinton’s personal server included material that wasn’t handed over to the government as part of the Democratic nominee’s archive.
Josh Schwerin, a Clinton campaign spokesman, defended Mrs. Clinton’s and Ms. Abedin’s actions at the State Department. “Once again, this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks,” he said. “No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as secretary of state because of donations to the Clinton Foundation,” he said.
A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit established by Mr. Clinton, didn’t return requests for comment.
At a rally in Akron, Ohio, on Monday, Mr. Trump devoted a significant portion of his speech to attacking the Clinton Foundation, which he described as a “pay-for-play” operation. “Pay the Clinton Foundation huge sums of money … and you got to play with the State Department,” he said. Earlier in the day, before the emails were released, he had called for the Clinton Foundation to be shut down entirely.
While meetings with foreign heads of state is a primary role for a U.S. secretary of state, critics of Mrs. Clinton have raised questions about Clinton Foundation donors’ access to the State Department during her tenure.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation since its founding, according to the organization’s disclosures. The crown prince in 2005 launched a scholarship program through the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects, that was intended to “educate select Bahraini students to take leadership roles in the private and public sectors,” according to the CGI website. By 2010, the crown prince had spent more than $32 million on the project, according to the website. The funds don’t go to CGI.
In a separate email exchange, Mr. Band sought Ms. Abedin’s help in obtaining a visa for a member of a U.K. soccer league at the request of Casey Wasserman, president of the Wasserman Foundation, which donated between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.
“I doubt we can do anything, but maybe we can help with an interview,” Ms. Abedin wrote. “I’ll ask.” She wrote again: “I got this now, makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask.”
Mr. Band responded: “Then don’t.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Wasserman said the forwarded email request never resulted in a visa. Mr. Band declined to comment on Monday.
The new emails were also notable because they discussed an interaction between a Clinton Foundation donor and Mrs. Clinton. Past email exchanges have depicted foundation officials seeking access to State Department officials, but not the secretary of state herself.
While Mrs. Clinton is no longer involved with the foundation, her husband and daughter, Chelsea, continue to attend the organization’s events. The Clinton Foundation said both would stop raising money for the organization and turn over operations to independent parties if Mrs. Clinton were elected.
While at the State Department, Ms. Abedin received a special designation from the agency that allowed her to work there while also doing outside work. During that period, she held two other positions, at the Clinton Foundation and at Teneo, a consulting firm founded by Mr. Band.
Mr. Band was a chief adviser in helping the former president launch the Clinton Foundation after leaving the White House.
Earlier this month, Judicial Watch released a separate batch of emails showing Mr. Band seeking help from top aides to Mrs. Clinton to set up a meeting between a State Department official and a top donor to the Clinton Foundation, Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. In that email exchange, Mr. Band employed similar language, calling Mr. Chagoury a “key guy there and to us.”
The Clinton campaign has since said that Mr. Chagoury had been seeking to offer the State Department his insights on the Lebanese election, rather than looking to elicit any action.
Mrs. Clinton has provided a total of about 30,000 emails to the State Department, most of which have been made public. A roughly equal number, she has said, were deleted as containing personal information and not related to government work.