Hillary Clinton speaking in Geneva, Switzerland during her time as U.S. Secretary of State in 2011. (Flickr / CC 2.0)

With the release this week of a new batch of emails to and from people who were on her staff when she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton’s email problem won’t be going away anytime soon. The emails have raised new concerns about the relationship between the United States government and the Clinton Foundation, a relationship that has been under scrutiny for years.

“A conservative anti-Clinton group, Judicial Watch, sued the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act for emails from Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, during her time at the State Department,” Justin Fishel writes on the ABC News website. “They are separate from the 55,000 pages of emails Clinton has already turned over.”

Out of the 296 emails released, Judicial Watch says 44 were not handed over to the State Department during the official investigation of Clinton’s email server. CNN reports:

In one instance, top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band lobbied Clinton aides for a job for someone else in the State Department. In the email, Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former aides at the department — Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — that it is “important to take care of (redacted).” Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.”

In a 2009 email, Band directs Abedin and Mills to put Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and Clinton Foundation donor, in contact with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon.

“We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance person re Lebanon,” Band wrote. “As you know, he’s a key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.”

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

According to NPR, a senior official in Clinton’s campaign stated “that the email exchanges between Band and Abedin did take place, but did so as top personal aides to the Clintons, not as officials carrying out business related to the foundation.”

Judicial Watch explains in a press release that Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills in 2012 was “alerted of the request seeking Clinton’s email addresses.”

“This is evidence that Cheryl Mills covered up Hillary Clinton’s email system,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton states in the press release. “And you can bet if Cheryl Mills knew about this inquiry, then Hillary Clinton did, too.”

For some journalists, however, this new batch of emails simply confirms what they have long known. James Grimaldi, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter, extensively covered the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. government for The Wall Street Journal. In a 2015 piece, Grimaldi and reporter Rebecca Ballhaus showed how donations to the Clinton Foundation increased after Clinton’s involvement in a Wall Street tax-evasion case.

“A whistleblower had come forward, an American who was helping UBS find Americans who wanted to dodge taxes in Switzerland, literally recruiting them to open accounts in Switzerland that would be then hidden from the Internal Revenue Service,” Grimaldi said on a Democracy Now! interview on Friday. Grimaldi continues:

The government, IRS and DOJ, wanted 50,000 accounts that they knew about in which Americans were hiding taxes—hiding their income in the UBS Swiss bank accounts so they wouldn’t be taxed. In the end, UBS did not want to provide those names, because there was a law in Switzerland that said they couldn’t reveal that kind of confidential information. In the end, they only gave about 5,000 of those 50,000 names. And we saw the donations from UBS to the Clinton Foundation increase from a little under $60,000 to $600,000, plus they participated in a $30 million inner-city loan program and then hired Bill Clinton to do speeches around the country for $1.5 million.

These new emails, Grimaldi continues in the interview, are just more evidence of what he believes is a longer history of conflict of interest. He explains how during the interim period when Clinton had left the State Department but hadn’t yet announced her bid for presidency, the Clinton Foundation “ended up going back to the very countries that some people had raised a lot of questions about.” He also calls Mills the “keeper of all the Clinton secrets.”

Media reactions to the emails have ranged from calling them “troubling” to accusing Clinton of running a “pay-to-play” State Department. This new potential scandal comes as Clinton outlines her economic policy plan on the campaign trail and faces additional press coverage of her elite economic status.

As to the future of the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. government? “[T]here’s a tension between the Clinton campaign for president and the Clinton Foundation about what exactly will happen,” Grimaldi says. “Those negotiations are well undercover. They’re not transparent… And I don’t foreclose the possibility that the Clinton Foundation will continue to operate and that they will raise money from some of the same places.”

—Posted by Emma Niles


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