After three years of being stonewalled by the State Department, the Associated Press (AP) successfully sued the State Department to release Hillary Clinton’s calendar during her tenure as Secretary of State. The AP learned that “At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.”
The AP specifically stated that the 154 meetings did not include any U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives. The AP excluded these other meetings from the calculation because meetings with either federal employees or foreign government representatives would have been part of Secretary Clinton’s job. The AP’s article also stated that the meetings between the Democratic nominee and the Clinton Foundation donors does not violate any legal agreements. However these meetings are indicative that Clinton Foundation donors enjoyed a preferential level of access with the Secretary of State’s office. In addition, a recent phone log showed that Clinton Foundation Chief Operating Officer Laura Graham left close to 150 messages at The State Department again demonstrating the lack of a “firewall” between the two entities.
Clinton’s Campaign Manager Robby Mook was quick to dismiss the AP’s findings. “By our count, there were over 1,700 other meetings that she had,” Mook said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “She was secretary of State. She was meeting with foreign officials and government officials constantly, so to pull all of them out of the equation, cherry-pick a very small number of meetings, is pretty outrageous.” Mook also insisted that “at every juncture the foundation set up the highest possible standards to prevent any conflict of interest.” Mook added, “And the State Department itself has said that there was no conflict of interest.”
Interestingly enough, when Hillary Clinton appeared before the U.S. Senate for her confirmation hearing as Secretary of State, Richard Lugar, who was a U.S. Republican Senator from Indiana at the time asked extensive questions about potential conflicts of interest between the foundation and Clinton’s diplomatic responsibilities as Secretary of State. Senator Lugar asked specific questions about foreign donations. In the wake of the recent controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, Lugar has spoken up. “The Clintons, as they approach the presidency, if they are successful, will have to work with their attorneys to make certain that rules of the road are drawn up to give confidence to them and the American public that there will not be favoritism,” Lugar said. (Many Donors to Clinton Foundation Met with Her at State.)
While I applaud Senator Lugar’s hopeful communication, the genie is out of the bottle. The lines between the Clinton Foundation and a potential Hillary Clinton administration are already too blurred to be repaired. Donald Trump is right. The Clinton Foundation needs to be shut down.
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