With the newly released Clinton emails revealing that Mrs. Clinton appears to have never truly left the Clinton Foundation during her time as Secretary of State, every American should be asking themselves one simple question: Are you really surprised?
As CNN reports:
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.”
Rumors of impropriety regarding the foundation, have dogged Mrs. Clinton since she became Secretary of State in 2008, even though she pledged to give up her interests in the nonprofit. However, her husband, Mr. Clinton, maintained his.
Bill Clinton had started the foundation in 1997, as a 501©3 called the William J. Clinton Foundation. Later renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit, for all its philanthropic ventures, was and is, a major source of personal revenue for the family.
This situation was inherently problematic from the start because of the obvious conflict of interest for the top US diplomat. That said, there was little to suggest real wrongdoing, until an International Business Times investigation from May of 2015, found that donors to the foundation appeared to receive special treatment by Hillary Clinton’s State Department in the form of weapons deals.
Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period.
Then in June, ABC News broke a story that a Clinton Foundation donor, Rajiv K. Fernando—a man described as “A prolific fundraiser for Democratic candidates and contributor to the Clinton Foundation, who…traveled with Bill Clinton on a trip to Africa” and who had no experience in the field—was appointed to a top secret nuclear security board alongside “nuclear scientists, former cabinet secretaries and members of Congress to advise Hillary Clinton on the use of tactical nuclear weapons and on other crucial arms control issues.” As ABC reported, “[t]he appointment qualified Fernando for one of the highest levels of top secret access, the emails show.”
Fernando’s history of campaign giving dated back at least to 2003 and was prolific — and almost exclusively to Democrats. He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for president, giving maximum contributions to her campaign, and to HillPAC, in 2007 and 2008. He also served as a fundraising bundler for Clinton, gathering more than $100,000 from others for her White House bid. After Barack Obama bested Clinton for the 2008 nomination, Fernando became a major fundraiser for the Obama campaign. Prior to his State Department appointment, Fernando had given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group, WomenCount, that indirectly helped Hillary Clinton retire her lingering 2008 campaign debts by renting her campaign email list.
The latest findings from the State Department’s newly released emails seem to fit neatly into the narrative that Mrs. Clinton is hopelessly corrupt, as well as brazenly arrogant. They only serve to confirm something that has been painfully obvious from the outset: Hillary Clinton had a stake in the Clinton Foundation as Secretary of State, and acted on it.
The problem we now face as a nation, is figuring out exactly what to do with this information. Mrs. Clinton has acted improperly—perhaps even criminally. By all rights, these emails should bar her from becoming commander-in-chief because they provide a glimpse of how the former Secretary will run her administration. However, on the other hand, we have Donald J. Trump, a man who makes outlandish, controversial, bigoted statements, who may or may not be wholly unqualified for the office, and who operates outside of accepted, predictable norms.
The 2016 election comes down to this: A choice between the devil we know, or the one we don’t—and either way we get a devil.
(For what it’s worth, as of now, the State Department maintains there is no evidence of an improper relationship with then Clinton Foundation during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure.