A sports executive who was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and whose firm paid Bill Clinton millions of dollars in consulting fees wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal past.
The crown prince of Bahrain, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity and who participated in its glitzy annual conference, wanted a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
U2 rocker and philanthropist Bono, also a regular at foundation events, wanted high-level help broadcasting a live link to the International Space Station during concerts.
In each case, according to emails released Monday from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, the requests were directed to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and confidante, Huma Abedin, who engaged with other top aides and sometimes Clinton herself about how to respond.
The emails show that, in these and similar cases, the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting.
But the exchanges, among 725 pages of correspondence from Abedin disclosed as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, illustrate the way the Clintons’ international network of friends and donors was able to get access to Hillary Clinton and her inner circle during her tenure running the State Department.
The release of the correspondence follows previous disclosures of internal emails showing a similar pattern of access for foundation contributors, and it comes as Republicans allege that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, used her perch in the Obama administration to trade favors for donations. Clinton and the foundation have vigorously denied the charge.
The disclosures also cast new doubts on Clinton’s past claim that she turned over all her work-related email from her private server to the State Department for eventual release to the public.
Judicial Watch said Monday’s release from Abedin’s inbox included 20 previously undisclosed exchanges with Clinton that were not included in the approximately 55,000 pages of correspondence the former secretary gave to State. Also Monday, the State Department said the FBI had turned over nearly 15,000 emails and other documents that investigators discovered during a probe of Clinton’s email setup that she had not previously returned to State.
Clinton has said about 30,000 personal emails were deleted from the server. The FBI batch includes emails and attachments that were sent directly to or from Clinton, or that were part of email chains.
FBI Director James B. Comey has said there is no evidence that emails were purposefully deleted with an intent to conceal them, and a State Department spokesman said Monday that some of the records included emails that were purely personal.
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FBI Director James Comey testified on July 7 at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)
It is not clear when the documents discovered by the FBI will become public, but lawyers for the State Department and Judicial Watch are negotiating a release that is likely to begin before the election and continue long after.
Josh Schwerin, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said in a statement Monday that Judicial Watch is a “right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s” and that the group is “distorting facts to make utterly false attacks.”
“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,” he said.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday that there is “no clear sign” donors received access for their contributions.
The emails released Monday showed how requests from donors would often come through Doug Band, a longtime Bill Clinton aide who helped create the foundation, with Abedin as a primary point of contact. Band declined to comment on the newly released emails, and lawyers for Abedin did not respond to a request for comment.
There is no indication from the emails that Abedin intervened on behalf of Casey Wasserman, an L.A. sports executive who in 2009 asked Band for help getting a visa for a British soccer star trying to visit Las Vegas. Band indicated that the office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had already declined to help, given the player’s criminal record. A Boxer spokesman described the request to her office as “routine” but one with which Boxer did not assist, “given the facts of the case.”
“Makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask,” Abedin wrote to Band in May 2009 after he forwarded to her an email from Wasserman.
Band responded: “then dont.”
Wasserman’s charitable foundation has given the Clinton Foundation between $5 million and $10 million. In 2009 and 2010, his investment company paid Bill Clinton $3.13 million in consulting fees.
A spokeswoman for Wasserman said the businessman never contacted Bill Clinton on the matter and the visa was never granted.
Band and Abedin also responded dismissively when asked if they had any ideas on how to help Bono get his space station transmission: “No clue,” they each responded in turn.
The appeal appears to have had more success in the case of Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain. In June 2009, Band emailed Abedin that the prince would be in Washington for two days and was seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton. “Good friend of ours,” he added.
Abedin responded that the prince had already requested a meeting “through normal channels” but that Clinton had been hesitant to commit. Two days later, Abedin followed up with Band to let him know that a meeting with the prince had been set. “If u see him, let him know. We have reached out thru official channels,” she wrote to Band.
Bahrain has a spotty human rights record but full relations with the U.S. government.
In a statement, the court of the crown prince said his participation at a 2005 foundation event “happened years before and was wholly unrelated to any meeting with Secretary Clinton,” adding that the prince is deputy head of state of an American ally and so he often meets with U.S. officials.
The new disclosures come as the Clinton Foundation and its international network of powerful donors have returned to the forefront of the presidential campaign.
On Monday, Bill Clinton sent an email to foundation staff and supporters outlining new steps and offering a defense of the foundation’s accomplishments. He wrote that the foundation would stop accepting corporate and foreign donations if Hillary Clinton was elected and that he would step down from the charity’s board, along with the board of a related Boston-based health organization. While he said his role would change, “the work itself should continue because so many people are committed to it and so many more are relying on it.”
The announcements did little to quell Republican attacks. The GOP nominee, Donald Trump, on Monday called for the foundation to be shut down altogether, describing the charity as “the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”
The newly released emails underscored the central role played by Abedin, a top adviser to Clinton’s campaign who has been working for her since Clinton’s time as first lady.
When S. Daniel Abraham, a major Democratic donor who had also given to the foundation, was visiting Washington in May 2009 and wanted to see Clinton, the emails showed that he placed a call to Abedin. “Do u want me to try and fit him in tomorrow?” Abedin emailed Clinton, who appeared to indicate in her response that she was willing to make time.
Abraham said in an interview Monday that he talked with Clinton about the Middle East and that his status as a donor had nothing to do with his ability to secure time with the secretary.
“It was about the issue that I have worked hard on for many, many years, Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said. “I have been friendly with the Clintons since their White House days. As far as I am concerned it was all good. She never asked me for anything.”
Longtime Clinton friend and fundraiser Maureen White wrote Abedin in July 2009, saying that she would be in Washington three days later. “Would she have any time to spare?” White wrote.
“Yes I’ll make it work,” Abedin responded.
White went on to serve in the State Department under Clinton. White said she and her husband, Steven Rattner, gave $31,000 to the foundation prior to 2009 and $25,000 to the foundation in 2012. White said that she did not remember the specific exchange but that she has met often with Clinton as a longtime supporter and has worked on refugee and humanitarian issues in several capacities in and out of government.
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“Usually when I told Huma I wanted to meet with Hillary Clinton, Huma made it happen,” White said.
In another email exchange, Democratic donor and activist Joyce Aboussie of St. Louis wrote to Abedin requesting a meeting between Clinton and a top executive of St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, one of the world’s largest coal producers.
“Huma, I need your help now to intervene please,” Aboussie wrote in June 2009. “We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months. This is, by the way, my first request.”
Abedin responded: “We are working on it and I hope we can make something work . . . we have to work through the beauracracy [sic] here.”
It is not clear whether the meeting took place. Neither Peabody officials nor Aboussie, who donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, responded to requests for comment.