Clinton e-mails renew concerns about ties between foundation, State Dept.



By Eric Lichtblau THE NEW YORK TIMES AUGUST 10, 2016

WASHINGTON — A new batch of U.S. State Department emails released Tuesday showed the close and sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.

The documents raised new questions about whether the charitable foundation worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department, a charge that Clinton has faced in the past and has always denied.

In one email exchange, for instance, an executive at the Clinton Foundation in 2009 sought to put a billionaire donor in touch with the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon because of the donor’s interests there.

In another email, the foundation appeared to push aides to Clinton to help find a job for a foundation associate. Her aides indicated that the department was working on the request.

Clinton’s presidential campaign, which has been shadowed for 17 months by the controversy over the private email server she used exclusively while at the State Department, had no immediate comment on the documents.

The State Department turned the new emails over to a conservative advocacy group, Judicial Watch, as part of a lawsuit that the group brought under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents included 44 emails that were not among some 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton had previously given to the State Department, which she said represented all her “work-related” emails. The document release centers on discussions between Clinton’s aides and Clinton Foundation executives about a number of donors and associates with interests before the State Department.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, charged that Clinton “hid” the documents from the public because they appeared to contradict her official pledge in 2009 to remove herself from Clinton Foundation business while leading the State Department.

The documents indicate, he said in a telephone interview, that “the State Department and the Clinton Foundation worked hand in hand in terms of policy and donor effort.”

“There was no daylight between the two under Mrs. Clinton, and this was contrary to her promises,” he added.

A number of the email exchanges released Tuesday included Huma Abedin, who was a top adviser to Clinton at the State Department and later worked at the Clinton Foundation.

In April 2009, Doug Band, who led the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative, emailed Abedin and Cheryl Mills, another top adviser to Clinton, for help with a donor.

Band wrote that he needed to connect Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who was one of the foundation’s top donors, with someone at the State Department to talk about his interests in Lebanon.

“It’s jeff feltman,” Abedin answered, referring to Jeffrey Feltman, who was the American ambassador to Lebanon at the time. “I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to jeff.”

Band asked her to call Chagoury immediately if possible. “This is very important,” he wrote.

In a separate email exchange, Band passed along to Abedin and Mills a request for “a favor” from an associate who had recently been on a Clinton Foundation trip to Haiti and was apparently seeking work at the State Department.

The State Department deleted much of the information about the associate, including his name and the outcome of the job referral, in turning over the emails to Judicial Watch.

In one undeleted section, however, Band wrote that it was “important to take care of” the associate’s request. A short time later, Abedin wrote back to say: “We all have him on our radar. Personnel has been sending him options.”

The FBI spent more than a year examining Clinton’s use of a private email account, but it is not clear how the work of the Clinton Foundation figured into that investigation.

James Comey, the FBI director, was noticeably circumspect in an appearance last month before the House oversight committee when Republicans questioned whether the investigation had looked at the Clinton Foundation. Twice, he declined to say.

Comey said that Clinton had been “extremely careless” and even “negligent” in using the private email account. But he decided not to recommend criminal charges in the case because he said it did not appear that she or her aides had intended to violate the law. The Justice Department accepted his recommendation, closing the case.

While Comey said he was convinced that Clinton had testified truthfully on the email controversy in a closed 3 1/2-hour interview with his investigators, he indicated that her public statements had contradicted the facts of the case on a number of key points.

Republicans have asked the Justice Department to open a perjury investigation.

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