I wonder how many members of Congress are tied to the Clinton Foundation?
Hillary Clinton put the State Department up for sale, with top aides pulling strings and doing favors for fat-cat donors to the Clinton Foundation — including a shady billionaire, according to smoking-gun emails released Tuesday.
The stunning revelations include how wealthy contributors seeking influence or prestigious government gigs could fork over piles of cash to get access to Clinton’s inner circle, including top aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.
In an April 2009 message to Abedin and Mills, Doug Band, who was overseeing the Clinton Foundation at the time, urgently asked for a meeting between a top US official and Gilbert Chagoury — a major donor to the Clinton family charity.
“We need to speak to the substance person re Lebanon. As you know, he’s [Chagoury] key guy there and to us and is loved in lebanon,” wrote Band, in a clear attempt to suck up to a big donor to the foundation.
“Its jeff feltman,” Abedin wrote back, referring to America’s former ambassador to Lebanon who went on to become assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in August 2009.
“I’m sure he knows him. Ill talk to jeff,” said Abedin.
Less than 20 minutes later, Band replied, “Better if you call him. Now preferable. This is very important. He’s awake I’m sure.”
Chagoury is a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who gave the Clinton Foundation between $1 million and $5 million. In 2009, he also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative.
The construction magnate, a close pal of Bill Clinton’s, has financial interests around the world. He was convicted in Switzerland in 2000 of money laundering and paid a $66 million fine in a plea deal.
Abedin’s quick response to Band paid dividends down the road.
In June 2011, Band formed the Teneo consulting firm, with Bill Clinton as the paid honorary chairman. And in 2012, Abedin won permission to work as a $15,000-a-month consultant for Teneo in a special arrangement that allowed her to remain on the State Department payroll.
The disclosures came in a batch of 296 pages of State Department documents released by Judicial Watch, a watchdog group that has been fighting in court to recover Clinton’s emails through the Freedom of Information Act.
In an April 2009 exchange, Band — who also worked for years as Bill Clinton’s close aide or “body man” — forwarded an email from an unidentified person to Abedin, Mills and a third aide, Nora Toiv, about a job.
The person had sent an email to Band that had the subject line: “A favor.”
“Important to take care of [redacted],” Band wrote when he passed it along.
“We all have had him on our radar. Personnel has been sending him options,” Abedin replied.
It wasn’t the first time Team Clinton used its clout to land a position for a donor to the foundation. In emails obtained in June by Citizens United, another watchdog group, it was revealed that a Chicago securities trader who was a Clinton bundler and gave at least $1 million to the foundation landed on the International Security Advisory Board despite having no experience in the field.
The donor, Rajiv K. Fernando, got the gig in 2011 after Mills intervened, according to an email.
The board provides advice to the State Department on all arms control, and its members are national security experts with scientific, military, diplomatic and political backgrounds, according to its website.
After ABC News reported Fernando’s role, he resigned within 24 hours.
The 44 previously unreleased emails in the new documents will raise more questions about conflicts of interest between the Clinton Foundation and the secretary of state and her aides and whether donors could “pay to play” and profit from their donations.
The revelations drew a quick rebuke from Donald Trump’s campaign, which said: “This is yet more evidence that Hillary Clinton lacks the judgment, character, stability and temperament to be within 1,000 miles of public power. She views public office as nothing more than a means to personal enrichment.”
“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” said Judicial Watch boss Tom Fitton. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”
The documents further showed that before a Clinton trip to Asia in 2009, Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, sent Hillary Clinton a copy of his upcoming testimony before Congress.
The document said he planned to condemn any US efforts to criticize Chinese monetary policy or enact trade barriers — another example of her close ties to Wall Street.
In an embarrassing disclosure, Abedin — Clinton’s closest aide — admitted she left her boss’ daily schedule in an unlocked hotel room in Trinidad and Tobago, where the secretary of state was attending a conference.
“Hi Huma,” aide Melissa Lan wrote Abedin. “Would it be possible to get one of the Secretary’s day book binders back for tomorrow’s product?”
Abedin replied, “Yes its on the bed in my room. U can take it. My door is open. I’m in lobby. Thx.”
Before taking office, Clinton wrote in a letter to State Department designated agency ethics official James Thessin that, if confirmed, she would not participate in any matters that involved people who had connections to the family’s charities.
Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin said that “neither of these emails involve the secretary or relate to the foundation’s work.”
“They are communications between her aides and the president’s personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was for one of the secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the foundation,” he added.