‘Dinner at her house’: Clinton sought to evade blatant ethics conflicts by involving aides

by WorldTribune Staff, August 25, 2016

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her top aides to circumvent ethics agreements, emails released on Aug. 23 reveal.

The emails show Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills were in regular contact with Clinton Foundation officials on topics ranging from the programming at Clinton Global Initiative events to Bill Clinton’s public remarks.

Hillary Clinton with aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills and daughter Chelsea Clinton.
Hillary Clinton with aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills and daughter Chelsea Clinton.

Before taking office at the State Department, Clinton signed an ethics agreement that she would “not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which the William J. Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is a party or represents a party” unless she applied for and received a waiver under conflict-of-interest laws.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Abedin and Mills were not bound by Clinton’s ethics agreement.

“Secretary Clinton’s ethics agreement at the time did not preclude other State Department officials from engaging with or having contact with the [Clinton] Foundation,” Toner said.

Emails from Mills and Abedin, however, indicate that Clinton was well aware of her staffers’ involvement with CGI and Clinton Foundation matters.

According to a report by the UK’s Daily Mail, in a June 11, 2012 email, “Clinton Foundation aide Dennis Cheng – who is currently the finance director for Clinton’s presidential campaign – emailed Abedin a list of attendees at a foundation dinner, indicating that it was going to be brought up during the secretary of state’s briefing the next day.

‘Attached is a list of attendees for tomorrow night’s Clinton Foundation dinner,’ Cheng wrote. ‘Let me know if you need anything else for HRC’s briefing.’

“Abedin forwarded the message to other State Department aides with the message ‘For her book tomorrow. Dinner at her house.’ “

The names on the guest list included long-time Clinton confidante Terry McAuliffe, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk.

Pinchuk, a billionaire industrialist, has contributed between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation through his own charitable group.

In another email exchange, the Daily Mail reported, “Abedin wrote to Clinton Global Initiative official Ed Hughes to discuss an upcoming conversation she had scheduled with a Clinton Foundation donor Abigail Disney.

“Abedin said that Disney, who has contributed between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation, wanted to discuss getting Clinton involved in an effort to highlight women’s issues at a CGI event. ‘I wish I could delay [Disney] but the problem is she keeps emailing [Clinton] directly and is quite anxious to talk so I don’t think I can push her an entire week,’ wrote Abedin on July 23, 2012.”

In a follow-up email, “Abedin added that Clinton’s role in the CGI event ‘hadn’t even been discussed yet’ and that Disney was going to respond to her with a ‘clearer proposal for what they want’ in terms of Clinton addressing women’s issues at the function.”

The Daily Mail noted that “in another email from 2012, a Clinton Foundation official reached out to Mills and Abedin for advice on what Bill Clinton should say in a press release for a project for the Clinton Climate Initiative, an offshoot of the foundation.

“The project was being carried out with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, an initiative launched by Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

‘What would you like us to say or not say?’ asked Clinton Foundation aide Amitabh Desai in a June 18, 2012 email to Abedin and Mills.”

Citizens United had previously published phone logs from Mills that showed she received more phone messages at the State Department from the Clinton Foundation’s chief operating officer than any other individual between 2010 and 2012.