On Monday, watchdog organization Judicial Watch released around 700 pages of State Department communications, many of which focused on how high-level employees at the Clinton Foundation used their special access to the State Department to request specific favors.
Although criticism of Hillary Clinton’s pay-for-play activities while Secretary of State are nothing new, the documents – and especially the emails – show just how close the relationship was between Clinton’s non-profit and her top State Department aides. The two offices interacted hundreds of times, often with the Clinton Foundation running interference for its major donors and trying to secure favors from the Secretary’s office.
The two institutions were so close that Foundation bigwigs often felt comfortable making some very interesting requests. Here are some of the weirdest things the Clinton Foundation asked for from Hillary Clinton’s State Department staff.
1. Wolverhampton Football Club’s Vegas Vacation: The Wolverhampton FC just wanted a spring break in Las Vegas, but one of their members was having trouble getting a visa because of an undisclosed “criminal charge.” Luckily, Wolverhampton had a fan in Hollywood sports executive Casey Wasserman, who donated between $5M and $10M to the Clinton Foundation. Huma Abedin, unfortunately, was “nervous” to get involved, so they had to pursue more official channels.
2. A Pow-wow With the Head of Slimfast: Hillary Clinton once said some of her deleted emails included information about her weight loss routine – but she probably wasn’t talking about Slimfast tycoon S. Daniel Abraham. That said, the billionaire who donated between $5M and $10M to the Clinton Foundation was able to score himself a meeting within seconds of Abedin alerting Secretary Clinton.
3. Bono Wants to Broadcast from Space: When the lead singer of U2 has a request, people usually listen, especially when he wants to broadcast live from the International Space Station and he’s a donor to the Clinton Global Initiative (he also happened to put together the Clinton Foundation’s 10th Anniversary concert).
4. Sean Penn Wants to Talk Shop: Clinton’s State Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills wasn’t immune to the barrage of Clinton Foundation requests. According to Fox News, Mills received around 150 calls from Clinton Foundation staff, all asking for various favors. It turns out, a lot of Clinton Foundation donors have big ideas about foreign policy, including movie star Sean Penn, who was apparently angling to talk to Clinton about his travels.
5. Love from the King of Bahrain: Perhaps not as weird, but definitely the most telling about relations between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, is an exchange between the two offices about the King of Bahrain, who wanted an official government meeting with the Secretary, but was told to book it through the Foundation. Huma Abedin initially told Foundation Exec Doug Band that Clinton wasn’t interested in hanging with the Prince, but Clinton appears to have changed her tune after Band reminded her that the Crown Prince was very generous to the Clinton Global Initiative.
The Clinton campaign has played off the “coincidences” as just yet more evidence that Judicial Watch, which has been investigating the Clintons since Bill Clinton’s first administration, is simply a political enemy. But the emails make clear that the Clintons often used Huma Abedin to bridge the gap between their public and their private lives, and may have greased the wheels for Foundation donors to earn special favors from the US government.