A press release yesterday afternoon from Judicial Watch, which is working a little different angle on the burgeoning Clinton Foundation scandal…
Judicial Watch announced that it has received 126 pages of documents from the State Department related to Hillary Clinton’s possible conflicts of interest regarding her position as Secretary of State. The initial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was placed on May 2, 2011. These documents are being released as a result of a federal court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on May 28, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00772)).
Judicial Watch also disclosed that the State Department turned over nearly 1,000 records to the Clinton Foundation, beginning in January 2014, for review prior to public release.
The lawsuit is ongoing and had previously forced the disclosure of documents that provided a road map for over 200 conflict-of-interest rulings that led to $48 million for the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton-connected entities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Previously disclosed documents in this lawsuit, for example, raise questions about funds Clinton accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, among others.
The latest group of documents shows that State Department officials had concerns in January 2011 about Bill Clinton’s activities related to Saudi Arabia. An email chain, begun on January 25, 2011, includes several members of the State Department’s Legal Advisor Office, and the subject line “Clinton Foundation Request – Saudi entities.” The discussion is almost entirely redacted in the three-page email chain.
Other documents previously forced out through this lawsuit show that Bill Clinton worked with Tanmiah Commercial Group, a Saudi group based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that paid Clinton $300,000. The Clinton Foundation told the State Department he would participate in the 2011 Global Competiveness Forum, a five-day event in Riyadh. The event was co-sponsored by the Dabbagh Group Holding Co., which “comprises 28 autonomous companies, operating in diversified businesses in 30 countries. Mohammed Husnee Jazeel currently serves as Dabbagh Group’s CFO.” The Clinton Foundation described the event as:
[A]n annual meeting of global business leaders, international political leaders and selected academics and journalists. It was founded in 2006 by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and is held under the patronage of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.
Established in 2000, the SAGIA encourages investment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and provides licensing and support services to investors.
The “ticketed event” targeted “the Saudi Arabian business community.”
Also, discussed is a Clinton Foundation request regarding an undisclosed country in Asia in August 2010: “Spoke to Jim [James H Thessin], on this and he plans to speak to the EAP [East Asian & Pacific Affairs] PDAS [Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary] and get his views.”
A June 2010 message chain addressed to then-Deputy Chief of Mission in Tanzania Larry E. Andre and others is labeled “URGENT RE: Clinton Foundation Issue, ” and states: “Former POTUS Clinton is on the ground in Tanzania… we need guidance fairly urgently to still be relevant.”
Also in the documents is a fully redacted June 2011 exchange between longtime Clinton associates Cheryl Mills and Doug Band.
Band assisted in creating the Clinton Global Initiative and is a founding partner and president of Teneo. Also previously disclosed, documents show that the State Department approved a consulting arrangement between Bill Clinton and Band. The Clintons ended the deal after only eight months, as criticism mounted over Teneo’s ties to the failed investment firm, MF Global. Mills defended Bill Clinton during his 1999 impeachment trial. She also was on the Clinton Foundation’s board prior to joining Mrs. Clinton at the State Department. Ms. Mills reportedly negotiated the “ethics agreement” on behalf of the Clintons and the Foundation that required the Clintons to submit to rigorous conflict-of-interest checks. Despite this, and in apparent violation of Obama administration ethics rules, Ms. Mills was involved in ethics reviews as chief of staff for Mrs. Clinton at the State Department.
A January 2013 email from Clinton Foundation Scheduler Margaret Steenburg to State Department attorneys says a list of speech hosts for conflict-of-interest review was provided to them (but the list is conspicuously absent from the FOIA production documents).
The State Department just disclosed that it turned over 128 records to the Clinton Foundation for review under Exemption 4 of FOIA. Exemption 4 allows the withholding of commercial information about third parties that could cause them competitive harm. Judicial Watch understands that over 1,000 records have been turned over to the Clinton Foundation under this unusual review process, resulting in more delay.
Dozens of State Department attorneys’ emails are heavily redacted and neglect to include the records Judicial Watch specifically sought in its FOIA request, such as Mrs. Clinton “SF 50s,” the standard form the government uses any time an employee changes jobs, or has an increase in step, grade or pay. Judicial Watch also sought all “SF 85s,” “85Ps,” or “SF-86s,”which would pertain to Hillary’s clearance for various types of information. Also noticeably scarce are the requested ethics waivers issued to Mrs. Clinton, and the communications relating to Mr. Clinton’s speech schedule and his personal or charitable financial relationships with foreign leaders and governments.
Last month, the State Department promised to conduct a supplemental search of email records allegedly turned over late last year by Hillary Clinton. The State Department has been silent on obtaining or recovering other emails from Hillary Clinton’s secret accounts or any secret accounts of her top staff, including Cheryl Mills.
“The State Department allowed Hillary Clinton to remove and destroy government email records. And now we’ve figured out the State Department is improperly giving government documents to the Clinton operation – documents that should have been turned over to us years ago,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our lawsuit, which first exposed the Clinton foreign fundraising racket at the State Department, continues to be obstructed by Mrs. Clinton’s political operation. With these revelations of State Department concerns about the Clinton machine’s Saudi and Asian dealings, this simple FOIA lawsuit is providing the road map for those tracking Hillary Clinton’s abuse of office as secretary of state. In the meantime, the State Department seems to be more concerned about helping Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign than following federal disclosure law.”