Conservative Group Says Emails Suggest Special Access for Clinton Donors

Group Says Emails Suggest Special Access to Clinton Donors

ByABC News
August 22, 2016, 6:31 PM

— -- A conservative watchdog group says previously undisclosed emails from Hillary Clinton's top State Department aide Huma Abedin suggest that top donors to the Clinton Foundation were able to get special access to Clinton when she was Secretary of State.

The Clinton campaign blasted Judicial Watch's claims as a mischaracterization of what's in the documents and accused the group of continuing to make "utterly false claims" against the Clintons. The State Department also said there was "no impropriety," that "nothing that we have seen that implied any kind of untoward relationship" and that nothing precluded State Department officials from having contact with Clinton Foundation staffers.

According to Judicial Watch, the 725 pages of emails include exchanges from Abedin, whom the group claims "provided influential Clinton Foundation donors special, expedited access to the secretary of state. In many instances, the preferential treatment provided to donors was at the specific request of Clinton Foundation executive Douglas Band."

The group says that one email exchange suggests that in June 2009, Band, a senior executive at the Clinton Foundation, along with Abedin, helped arrange a meeting with the secretary of state on behalf of Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman, whom Band referred to as a "Good friend of ours."

In a June 23, 2009 exchange, Band wrote to Abedin "Cp of Bahrain in tomorrow to Friday, Asking to see her. Good friend of ours."

Abedin replied "He asked to see hrc thurs and fri thru normal channels. I asked and she said she doesn’t want to commit to anything for thurs or fri until she knows how she will feel. Also she says that she may want to go to ny and doesn’t want to be committed to stuff in ny…"

Another email exchange to Band two days later indicates that Abedin was "Offering Bahrain cp 10 tomorrow for meeting woith [sic] hrc If u see him, let him know. We have reached out thru official channels," the group said.

It is unclear from the released emails whether the meeting was a direct result of Band's contacts with Abedin, who was a top Clinton aide at the State Department.

In 2005 the court of Crown Prince Salman made a “commitment to action” to the Clinton Global Initiative that the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program (CPISP) would raise $32 million over the next four years from private businesses “to educate select Bahraini students to take leadership roles in the private and public sectors.”

CPISP’s commitment to raise that funding was posted on the Clinton Foundation’s website among other commitments to action from partner organizations.

None of that money went to the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Global Initiative.

“These new emails confirm that Hillary Clinton abused her office by selling favors to Clinton Foundation donors,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There needs to be a serious, independent investigation to determine whether Clinton and others broke the law.”

The Clinton campaign pushed back strongly on that allegation.

"Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks. 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," said Josh Schwerin, National Spokesman for the Clinton campaign.

A Clinton campaign aide said the newly released emails show that the meeting with Salman was set up through official channels and added that "meeting with foreign leaders is, by definition, the role of the Secretary of State."

"There was no impropriety," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday. "This was simply, you know, evidence of the way the process works in that, you know, any secretary of State has aides who are getting e-mails or contacts by a broad range of individuals and organizations."

He added "There was nothing that we have seen that implied any kind of untoward relationship."

Toner said there was nothing that precluded State Department officials from having contact with Clinton Foundation staff.

According to Toner, the content of the emails provided to Judicial Watch had been reviewed by the State Department and not found to have been conflicts of interest.

The documents released Monday are the latest documents obtained by Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking Abedin's email communications during her time at the State Department.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain had donated $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative. The amount cited was in fact money the Crown Prince committed to raise for the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program.

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