Clinton faces late summer scandal wave – Politico
The scandals swirling around Hillary Clinton kicked up a notch on Monday, with the release of more emails showing the sway Clinton Foundation donors held at the State Department and an order by a federal judge that could result in a dump of thousands more emails before the election.
Clinton managed to coast through the conventions and the resulting weeks, gaining momentum in the polls as Donald Trump suffered through numerous self-inflicted controversies.
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But on Monday, Clinton was delivered a rude reminder that her long-running scandals will likely persist all the way to November — and potentially beyond.
A federal judge ordered that the State Department must review 14,900 documents discovered by the FBI as investigators probed Clinton’s use of a private email server during her four years at the agency, and he set a hearing date for next month about the “production” of such emails.
That means Clinton could be a hit by a wave of fresh emails — possibly including deleted emails the FBI rcovered — right before the election.
Adding to her woes, Judicial Watch — the same conservative group who is behind that litigation — on Monday released 725 emails from Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin, some of which showed the influence peddling that flowed between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
One such exchange showed Abedin, who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at State, working as a go-between as Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band pushed a meeting between Clinton and Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain in 2009.
Trump, who has been attacking Clinton for months on her foundation and email woes, tried to twist the knife. He issued a statement calling on the Clintons to shut down their foundation, which he called “the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”
“Hillary Clinton is the defender of the corrupt and rigged status quo. The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people,” Trump said in a statement released through his campaign. “It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as Secretary of State was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for an expedited process in order to ensure the newarly 15,000 documents are released before Election Day.
“Even worse, this news comes on the heels of the Clinton camp falsely trying to pin her email woes on Colin Powell, raising serious questions about whether she lied to the FBI,” Priebus said in a statement, referring to reporting about the former secretary of state’s testimony to the FBI that Powell told her to use personal email while at the State Department. Powell has said he does not recall the conversation in question, accusing Clinton’s team of “pinning” the email scandal on him.
Clinton’s team sought to deflect the attacks, trying to turn the harsh spotlight back on Trump.
“The Foundation has already laid out the unprecedented steps the charity will take if Hillary Clinton becomes president,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement. “Donald Trump needs to come clean with voters about his complex network of for-profit businesses that are hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to big banks, including the state-owned Bank of China, and other business groups with ties to the Kremlin.”
Bill Clinton also tried to defuse the scandals plaguing the Clinton Foundation, which was set up in 1997 as a vehicle for his post-presidential charitable work. It has grown into a fundraising juggernaut, collecting billions of dollars to tackle global issues such as disease, hunger, and climate change.
But it’s also become a major liability as Trump and other critics accuse Hillary Clinton of abusing her position as secretary of state to give major donors access to not only herself but other major political and corporate figures.
On Monday, Bill Clinton laid out a series of moves the foundation will take to minimize conflicts of interest if his wife wins in November.
In a letter sent to supporters, the former president pledged that he will step down from the board of the family foundation and no longer raise funds for it, that the foundation would change its name from the “Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation” to just the “Clinton Foundation,” as well as only accept contributions from “U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and U.S.-based independent foundations, whose names we will continue to make public on a quarterly basis.”
“Over the last several months, members of the Foundation’s senior leadership, Chelsea, and I have evaluated how the Foundation should operate if Hillary is elected,” Bill Clinton wrote. “Throughout the process, our top priorities have been preserving our most important programs, supporting the people who work for the Foundation and its affiliated programs, and resolving legitimate conflict of interest questions.”
The moves — which were previewed last week — did little to ease Trump’s attacks.
Speaking to “Fox & Friends,” the GOP nominee proclaimed that the Clintons should return money from “a lot of countries that we shouldn’t be taking and they shouldn’t be taking money from.”
“Countries that influenced her totally and also countries that discriminate against women and gays and everybody else. I mean, that money — it should be given back. They should not take that money,” Trump said.
Asked whether he thought the Clintons would do so, Trump suggested it might not happen.
“Whether or not it will, they’re very greedy people, so maybe it won’t,” the GOP nominee remarked. “But it should happen.”
Republican lawmakers are also eager to keep Clinton’s email scandal in the headlines. On Monday Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House science committee, issued subpoenas with the support of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, to three companies who helped maintain Clinton’s server.
“Companies providing services to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private email account and server are not above the law,” Smith said. “These companies have failed to comply with our committee’s request for documents and interviews that would provide information critical to understanding Secretary Clinton’s private server and informing policy changes in how to prevent similar email arrangements in the future.”
The hundreds of pages of fresh Abedin emails released on Monday also showed other interactions between foundation donors and Clinton’s State Department.
In another email chain, Abedin expressed reluctance to intervene on Band’s behalf to help members of a British soccer club get a visa. Band himself was asking on behalf of Hollywood executive Casey Wasserman, the president of the Wasserman Foundation, which donated between $5 million and $10 million. “I got this now, makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask,” Abedin wrote in May 2009, to which Band responded, “Then don’t[.]” (A spokeswoman for Wasserman said the forwarded email never resulted in a visa.)
“Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks,” Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin said. “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.”
The State Department tried to minimize the new emails as well.
“I mean, I guess I would just once again emphasize that there wasn’t a single channel for access to the secretary of state than Secretary of State Clinton,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. “And for senior aides working at the department at the time to have … connections with the Clinton Foundation, which by the way was working on, for example, Haiti relief, post-earthquake, pretty significant role in that in fact, only speaks to the fact that these were, you know, important people who had reason to convey information to the secretary. There was nothing that we have seen that implied any kind of untoward relationship.”
On the prospect of thousands more Clinton emails could be released, Toner in an earlier email statement said that State will have to “carefully” review the documents in question. “We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of non-record (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State,” Toner said. “State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act.”
“We still don’t have a full sense of how many of the 14,900 are new,” Toner said later at a press briefing. “Granted that’s a healthy number there, so there’s likely to be quite a few.”