Hillary Clinton's closest State Department aides were closely involved in coordinating events, talking points, and projects with the Clinton Foundation, according to emails, despite ethics agreements that were intended to create a firewall between Clinton's office and her family's foundation.
Emails released by the watchdog group Citizens United on Tuesday show Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills were in regular contact with foundation officials on topics ranging from the programming at Clinton Global Initiative events to Bill Clinton's public remarks.
While Clinton signed an ethics agreement saying she would not be personally involved with State Department matters related to the Clinton Foundation, her closest staffers were bound by no such restrictions, according to the State Department.
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Hillary Clinton's closest State Department aides were closely involved in projects with the Clinton Foundation, according to emails, despite ethics agreements intended to create a firewall between Clinton's office and her family's foundation
'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,' said spokesperson Mark Toner during the State Department press briefing on Monday.
Toner was commenting on phone logs from Cheryl Mills's office that were published this week, which showed Mills corresponded extensively with the Clinton Foundation's chief operating officer.
Clinton signed an ethics agreement before taking office in which she said 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) is a party or represents a party' unless she applied for and received a waiver under conflict-of-interest laws.
Although there are debates over what constitutes 'personal and substantial' involvement under ethics laws, emails from Clinton's aides indicate that she was aware of her staffer's involvement with CGI and Clinton Foundation matters.
Phone logs from Cheryl Mills's office (Mills pictured left with Clinton last October) published this week showed Mills corresponded extensively with the Clinton Foundation's chief operating officer
In one email exchange, 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.
'Also, was talking to [Clinton] about note in [another CGI official's] memo about integrating womens issues throughout the week.'
While Clinton signed an ethics agreement (above in part) saying she would not be personally involved State Department matters related to the Clinton Foundation, her closest staffers were bound by no such restrictions, according to the State Department
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.
In another June 11, 2012 message, 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,' he 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.