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New Emails Raise Questions About Ties Between Clinton Foundation And State Dept.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Fla.
Andrew Harnik
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Fla.


A fresh batch of previously unreleased State Department emails are raising new questions about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during the years Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.

The conservative group Judicial Watch released 296 pages of email conversations from Clinton's private email server that it says show that "Clinton's top aides' favors for and interactions with the Clinton Foundation seem in violation of the ethics agreements that Hillary Clinton agreed to in order to be appointed and confirmed as Secretary of State."

The group says 44 of those pages had not been previously turned over to the State Department.

Allegations that the Clinton Foundation, a global charitable organization created by former President Bill Clinton, worked to compensate donors by providing access at the State Department has cast a shadow over the current Democratic presidential nominee for years.

One example that Judicial Watch pointed to was an April 2009 discussion in which it appears that Clinton Foundation official Doug Band urged aides to the then-secretary of state to consider an associate of his for a job saying "it was important to take care of" the unnamed staffer.

In a response email, Band is told by top Clinton staffer Huma Abedin, "We have all had him on our radar. Personnel has been sending him options."

It is unclear from the emails whether the individual was ultimately offered a job.

Another example, also involving Band, shows him pushing Abedin and another high ranking State Department staffer, Cheryl Mills, to put billionaire philanthropist Gilbert Chagoury in contact with the State Department's "substance person" on Lebanon.

Abedin responds to Band:

"Its jeff feltman
"I'm sure he knows him
"I'll talk to jeff"

According the Clinton Foundation's "Contributor and Grantor" list, Chagoury donated between $1 million and $5 million dollars to the organization. Judicial Watch notes:

"[Chagoury] also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative. According to a 2010 investigation by PBS Frontline, Chagoury was convicted in 2000 in Switzerland for laundering money from Nigeria, but agreed to a plea deal and repaid $66 million to the Nigerian government."

For her part, Mrs. Clinton has always disputed any claims of wrongdoing.

In a statement, Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin accused Judicial Watch of trying to "mischaracterize these documents."

"The right-wing organization behind this lawsuit has been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s and 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."

A senior Clinton campaign official tells NPR 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.

The campaign official, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about the issue, said the associate Band was hoping to find employment for was not a donor. According to the official, Band was recommending a young person who had done some advance work for Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign. Band was hoping the associate could find similar work within the State Department.

The official also downplayed Band seeking to connect a Clinton Foundation donor with someone who did work on Lebanon-related issues at the State Department. No special favors were made for financial contributors and the connection between the Lebanon expert and the donor was never made, according to the official.

The new set of emails was obtained by Judicial Watch by way of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the group against the Department of State last year.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reacted to the release of the State Department emails via Twitter suggesting the media was focusing too much on his recent comments on the Second Amendment and not enough on Clinton's emails.

The issue of Clinton's use of personal computer server has dogged her campaign for months. After an interview with Fox News late last month, Clinton came under renewed scrutiny after telling interviewer Chris Wallace that FBI Director James Comey said her past statements regarding her emails were "truthful," a claim Factcheck.org and other outlets found was false.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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