Could Clinton email troubles be the October surprise?
This week the State Department released a new batch of emails to Judicial Watch showing Hillary Clinton’s top aides appear to have mixed Clinton Foundation business with the State Department.
According to a May 2015 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) court order, the State Department continues releasing batches of unseen Clinton emails.
This time, the latest email involves longtime Bill Clinton aide Doug Brand, who sought a State Department meeting on behalf of a major Clinton Foundation donor.
“We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance person re [sic] Lebanon. As you know he’s a key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.” One email read.
According to government disclosure reports, the wealthy Nigerian businessman of Lebanese descent gave the Clinton Foundation between $1 and $5 million dollars, pledged another billion to the Clinton Global Initiative and has been convicted of money laundering in Switzerland.
State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau dodged reporter’s questions last week. After repeated queries, and in a moment of frustration, one reporter asked: “I’m sorry, are you – am I not speaking English? Is this – I mean, is it coming across as a foreign – I’m not asking you if – no one is saying it’s not okay or it’s bad for the department to get a broad variety of input from different people. Asking – the question is whether or not you have determined that there was nothing improper here.”
What is clear, Chagoury did pay Bill Clinton $100,000 for a speech he gave somewhere in the Caribbean. But the State Department continued to refuse to answer any questions on the proposed Lebanese project.
Instead, Hillary Clinton’s campaign spokesperson said in a statement: “Neither of these emails involve the Secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work. They are communications between her aides [Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills] and the President’s personal aide [Mr. Band], and indeed the recommendation was for one of the Secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the Foundation.”
Another email question pointed out that Mrs. Clinton specifically signed an employment ethics agreement, stating she would not participate in any Clinton foundation business. This binding agreement ensures that her chain of command remains intact and it’s up to her to ensure no one at State mixes foundation and government work. Ultimately the buck must stop with Mrs. Clinton.
However, DoS’s Trudeau finally provided a little wiggle room: “We talk to a wide range of people, at my level, at various levels in the department – NGOs, think tanks, business leaders, experts on a variety of subjects. So again, to reiterate, department officials are in touch with a wide range of individuals. I’d note that former Secretary Clinton’s ethics agreement did not preclude other State Department officials from having contact with Clinton Foundation staff.”
Legendary Pulitzer Prize winner for “Watergate” Bob Woodward weighed into the continued email drama for the presidential hopeful. “Well, look what the FBI Director Comey said that they found thousands, not hundreds, but thousands of emails that were not turned over in all of this process. That some of these involved email chains of top-secret special access programs. These are real secrets. These are the kinds of secrets that normally do not come out in the media. So, it’s a ticking time bomb. There’s no question about that,” he told MSNBC Morning Joe. “I don’t think anyone knows. And you talk to the security experts and they say the people who are hacking this, in some cases, are so good they leave no fingerprints and no trails so you don’t know whether you’ve lost these e-mails or the material.”
Nonetheless, all the Texas two-stepping out of the State Department did not convince President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton. “Mrs. Clinton promised as a condition of employment she had to convince Democrat senators and Republican senators that the Clinton Foundation business dealings would not be an issue. She promised in a signed ethics agreement not to get involved in Clinton Foundation work,” he explained.
Fitton also claims his firm will release more FOIAed emails in the coming months. Another source of Clinton emails is coming from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He managed to get a hold of hacked DNC emails that highlighted the Democratic Party’s favoritism and bias to ensure Hillary Clinton was the eventual nominee over the more popular Bernie Sanders.
As for Assange, he assures media outlets that he has more politically damning emails from the Clinton Foundation that will be released before the November 8 election.
And another potential source of Clinton emails could come from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Upon learning that news, GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump chidingly asked the Russian strongman to return Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails because they belong to the US government.
Nevertheless, after a thorough review of Clinton’s computer server and phone devices, the FBI recovered thousands of additional communications that the former Secretary of State did not turn over all her work-related emails even though she told lawmakers and the State Department otherwise.
This action by Ms. Clinton has now opened an investigation into perjury charges by the Congressional Government Oversight Committee.
While the latest release may not prove there was a quid pro quo, rules state government employees must avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Scott Amey of the Project of Government Oversight told CNN: “So you do wonder if there was some kind of impartiality of preferential treatment given to these companies and these lobbyist that didn’t go to everyone and that’s not the way our government is supposed to work.”
In the highly technical modern-day world, many Americans are getting their news from a variety of online sources because they no longer trust the mainstream media that consists of five or six corporations controlling the government’s message.
“Five giant corporations control 90 percent of US mass media. And direct links connect all five of these media conglomerates to the political establishment and the economic and political power elites of the United States,” according to RT. “These five conglomerates are Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s’ News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS). Their control spans most of the newspapers, magazines, books, radio and TV stations, movie studios, and much of the web news content of the United States. These conglomerates are in large measure responsible for inculcating the social, political, economic, and moral values of both adults and children in the United States.”
While Mrs. Clinton blames everyone from a rightwing conspiracy to Putin to WikiLeaks for releasing her government emails, the ultimate responsibility lies with her decision to procure and use a private non-secure server.
A question remains if the drip, drip, drip email scandal will impact Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming Madam President. Stay tuned for updates…