For all of his faults, President Obama has always clearly understood how politically dangerous it is to join forces with a Clinton.
That proceed-with-caution approach is most evident in the Memorandum of Understanding that President Obama required Hillary Clinton to sign as a condition of being named Secretary of State. The agreement was meant to “ensure that activities of the Foundation, however beneficial, do not create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.” Among other things, it required the Foundation to “share [contributing] countries and the circumstances of the anticipated contribution with the State Department designated agency ethics official for review.”
The undercurrent of distrust flowing through the document is hard to miss, and it turns out that it was well placed. Kimberly Strassel writes for the Wall Street Journal:
This is the week that the steady drip, drip, drip of details about Hillary Clinton’s server turned into a waterfall. This is the week that we finally learned why Mrs. Clinton used a private communications setup, and what it hid. This is the week, in short, that we found out that the infamous server was designed to hide that Mrs. Clinton for three years served as the U.S. Secretary of the Clinton Foundation.
The Democratic nominee obviously didn’t set up her server with the express purpose of exposing national secrets—that was incidental. She set up the server to keep secret the details of the Clintons’ private life—a life built around an elaborate and sweeping money-raising and self-promoting entity known as the Clinton Foundation.
Had Secretary Clinton kept the foundation at arm’s length while in office—as obvious ethical standards would have dictated—there would never have been any need for a private server, or even private email.
But there was no arm’s length relationship. More to the point, the lines between Clinton Foundation and State Department, between Secretary of State and chief Foundation fundraiser, between public and private, and between donation and bribe were completely blurred. When Clinton promised voters last year that her lawyers “went through every single email” to determine which ones were personal and which were work-related, it was assumed that the public would be able to know the difference. But there is no difference. Clinton’s family foundation and Clinton’s State Department were a seamless entity.
The latest evidence of this troubling relationship came in a batch of emails released earlier this week that show Clinton’s longtime aide—Huma Abedin—served as a concierge between Foundation donors and the State Department. Judicial Watch reports:
The Abedin emails reveal that the longtime Clinton aide apparently served as a conduit between Clinton Foundation donors and Hillary Clinton while Clinton served as secretary of state. In more than a dozen email exchanges, Abedin provided expedited, direct access to Clinton for donors who had contributed from $25,000 to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. In many instances, Clinton Foundation top executive Doug Band, who worked with the Foundation throughout Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State, coordinated closely with Abedin. In Abedin’s June deposition to Judicial Watch, she conceded that part of her job at the State Department was taking care of “Clinton family matters.”
When the Crown Prince of Bahrain—a country that Human Rights Watch says is known for “torture and mistreatment of detainees”—wanted a meeting with Secretary Clinton, her office initially put him on ice. Until that is, Doug Band reminded everyone that Crown Prince Salman is a “good friend of ours,” who [ahem] donated $32 million to the Clinton Foundation. Two days later Salman got a meeting.
That’s far from just an isolated example, and it extends well beyond interactions with government. The Associated Press reported this week that more than half of the people outside the government who met with Clinton as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation donors, either personally or through companies or groups.
The question now becomes what else we will learn. The other big bombshell from the week was that the FBI has uncovered nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed e-mails sent directly to or from Hillary Clinton. That’s roughly 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton’s lawyers previously deemed to be work-related. And who knows what secrets could be lurking in the emails of aides like Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.
This is the type of entwinement that Clinton promised wouldn’t happen. She even went so far as to sign a document to the President of the United States promising that she would steer clear of conflicts of interest. None of those promises mattered in the face of multi-million dollar donations. Which begs the question: If she can leverage this much power as Secretary of State, what could she do from her White House perch?