New Docs Show Clinton Foundation Donors Sought Access to State Department

PHOTO: State Dept Image / Jun 26, 2009
Secretary Clinton meets with Highness Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Deputy Supreme Commander of Bahrain Defense Force at the U.S. Department of State.PlayU.S. State Dept.
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Government email traffic and internal call logs made public by conservative groups this week offer more evidence that donors to the Clinton Foundation sought and at times received special favors and access to the State Department.

“[Hillary] Clinton and her staff treated the State Department as an arm of the Clinton Foundation,” said Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, which released 725 pages of State Department emails between top Clinton aides as part of a lawsuit the group filed seeking government records. “Some of these emails should have been turned over to us years ago.”

Clinton officials called the release politically motivated. “Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks,” said Josh Schwerin, a Clinton campaign spokesman.

The documents are the latest to show how a top official with the Clinton Foundation — Doug Band, a longtime aide to former President Bill Clinton — served as a conduit on behalf of foundation donors seeking access to the State Department.

The most pointed example made public Monday involves a request by Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, after first trying normal channels, to meet with the secretary of state. The emails suggest the meeting was confirmed only after intervention by the Clinton Foundation, to which his government had given $50,000 to $100,000.

On June 23, 2009, Band wrote top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to alert her that the prince would be in town and was “asking to see her [Clinton].”

“Good friend of ours,” Band wrote.

Abedin responded that Salman “asked to see hrc [Hillary Rodham Clinton] thurs and fri thru normal channels. I asked and she said she doesn’t want to commit to anything.”

But 48 hours later, Abedin wrote back to Band to say the meeting was on the calendar. “If u see him, let him know,” she wrote.

Schwerin said the meeting was set up through official channels.

“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.

Also Monday, the group Citizens United released copies of State Department phone logs it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and a subsequent lawsuit. The logs show calls received by another top Clinton aide, Cheryl Mills. They including scores of messages from Band at the Clinton Foundation.

The logs also provided documentation of Mills’ involvement in responding to ABC News questions in 2011 about Rajiv Fernando, a Chicago commodities trader who had been given a position on a sensitive State Department security panel, despite having no known experience in that area. Before the appointment, Fernando gave $100,000 to $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Internal department emails first reported by ABC News showed career staffers were perplexed by Fernando’s selection to the International Security Advisory Board, which provided guidance to the secretary on arms control and nuclear security. “It’s natural to ask how he got onto the board when compared to the rest of the esteemed list of members,” one staffer wrote. Days after the ABC News inquiry and one day before Fernando submitted his resignation, Mills had a message from him and another from a senior State Department official with the subject line “Raj Fernando.”

The State Department later told ABC News that Fernando had joined the advisory board to offer a new perspective on security issues.

He has declined repeated requests for comment from ABC News through a spokeswoman. When ABC News approached him last month at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where he was a superdelegate supporting Hillary Clinton, he would not answer questions about his brief stint on the State Department board.

“I’m just trying to help Secretary Clinton get elected,” Fernando said.

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