Newly gathered information of Hillary Clinton’s controversial email during
her tenure as secretary of state have
revealed that Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Mr. Gilbert Chagoury used his
relationship with the Clinton Foundation set up by her husband former President
Bill Clinton to seek for favours from the US State Department.
Chagoury is a close friend of the
former US president and a top donor to the Clinton Foundation. He has appeared
near the top of the Foundation’s donor list as a $1 million to $5 million
contributor, according to foundation documents. He also pledged $1 billion to
the Clinton Global Initiative.
According to a 2010 investigation
by PBS Frontline, Chagoury was convicted in Switzerland in 2000 for laundering
money from Nigeria, but agreed to a plea deal and repaid $66 million to the
The revelation has raised questions
about the nature of the State Department’s relationship with the Clinton
Foundation, when she was secretary of state.
CNN reported yesterday that
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, released 296 pages of emails
from the Democratic presidential nominee, including 44 that Judicial Watch says
were not previously handed over to the State Department by Clinton.
The emails, many of which are
heavily redacted, raise questions about the Clinton Foundation’s influence on
the State Department and its relations during her tenure.
In one instance, top Clinton
Foundation official Doug Band lobbied Clinton aides for a job for someone else
in the State Department. In the email, Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former
aides at the department — Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — that it is “important
to take care of (redacted).” Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has
been sending him options.”
The emails were obtained by the
group through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch
against the State Department in 2015.
The Trump campaign seized at the
new batch of emails, citing them as evidence of Clinton being corrupt.
The prolonged investigations into
her use of a private email server while at the State Department has fuelled
public distrust of her and plagued her presidential bid.
But the Justice Department declined
to press charges against Clinton for her handling of classified information
related to the server earlier this year, with FBI Director James Comey saying
while she was “extremely careless,” it was his judgment that “no reasonable
prosecutor would bring such a case.”
In a 2009 email, Band directs
Abedin and Mills to put Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and Clinton
Foundation donor, in contact with the State Department’s “substance person” on
“We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak
to the substance person re Lebanon,” Band wrote. “As you know, he’s a key guy
there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.”
“It’s jeff feltman,” Abedin
responded, referring to Jeffrey Feltman, who was the US ambassador to Lebanon
at the time. “I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to jeff.”
Feltman told CNN yesterday that he
never met with Chagoury.
“I have never met nor spoken with
Mr Chagoury. I was not aware of the proposal that he speak to me until this
email exchange was released, but in any case we never spoke,” he said.
Judicial Watch President Tom Filton
said in a press release that Clinton “hid” the 44 emails on purpose.
“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma
Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” he said
in a press release. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and
operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”
Clinton’s campaign said the emails
didn’t relate to her work at the Clinton Foundation.
“Neither of these emails involve
the secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work,” said an emailed statement
from Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin. “They are communications between
her aides and the President’s personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was
for one of the Secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the
The Clinton campaign said yesterday
that Chagoury only wanted to offer insights on the then-upcoming Lebanese
election and was not looking for any specific action from the State Department.
“The right-wing organization behind
this lawsuit has been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s and 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,” Schwerin said in a statement.
GOP presidential nominee Donald
Trump sought to use the emails to paint Clinton as corrupt.
The Clinton Foundation was not part
of the recent investigation into her private server; it was separate. The FBI went
to Justice Department earlier this year asking for it to open a case into the
foundation, but the public integrity unit declined.
The Justice Department had looked
into whether it should open a case on the foundation a year prior and found it
didn’t have sufficient evidence to do so.
Yesterday, Judicial Watch released
written testimony from Mills, in which she provides further detail on how
Clinton’s private email server was set up to address potentially security
Mills told the attorneys she spoke
with a Clinton IT staffer in 2013, after learning the email account of a close
Clinton confidante, Sidney Blumenthal, had been compromised by a hacker.