Part 4. Emails and Foundations
Hillary Clinton is slippery.
With all of the evidence we have of her misdeeds, she’s never been indicted, never mind convicted, for any of her nefarious activities. She, and husband Bill, have perfected the fine art of bending the law while, helped by the fawning media, never being held accountable.
But recently Hillary may have finally found herself the victim of an unforced error.
It’s apparent that she believes herself to be immune from justice no matter what she does, but when she decided to insulate herself from the prying eyes of Congress and those pesky FOIA requests by creating a personal, secret email server network, she may have finally overestimated her ability to cover up her misconduct.
As Secretary of State, Hillary was the top foreign relations representative for the United States and most people (who didn’t know her) would assume that she, of all people, would follow the rules. She didn’t. She didn’t even try. Instead, she chose to ignore the State Department’s secure email system entirely and use her own private network to conduct official government business. By doing so, she ignored State Department rules and put official government communications at risk of hacking by individuals, or more likely, by foreign powers.
Why on earth would anyone do that?
There’s one reason that’s so obvious that it fairly screams at us. It’s pretty plain that Hillary didn’t want to leave any evidence that might be used against her, so she conducted official United States’ business, most of which would be considered sensitive, if not classified, on a “homegrown” system located in her home and maintained by people she hired. She maintains that it’s never been hacked or otherwise compromised, but she doesn’t know that. As a matter of fact, industry experts on cyber security are unanimous in believing that her server must have been hacked. They call it a “spy magnet.”
Imagine a server called “clintonemail.com.” Doesn’t the name alone beg for some interested government or enterprising hacker to investigate to see what’s there? And remember that Hillary’s network wasn’t even encrypted for the first three months of her term. This was an open invitation for mischief.
Last fall we learned that a number of important federal agencies’ computers had been compromised, including the White House Executive Office, the National Security Staff, and the State Department, among others. Evidence suggests that initial entrance was gained through the State Department system and evidence leads to the hackers being Russians. If hackers gained access to highly secure federal agencies’ computers, doesn’t it follow that Hillary’s computer would also be vulnerable? And if the State Department’s system was the gateway for initial entry, wouldn’t Hillary’s emails to anyone there be a choice target? And, by the way, experts are unsure when the initial entry occurred or for how long the hackers had access. If the experts at the national level didn’t know that hacking was in progress, how would Hillary?
By conducting her State Department business exclusively on an offsite, secret server owned and controlled by her, Hillary maintained complete control of her communications. No way could Congress or any other watchdog group gain access to whatever evidence might reside there.
So Hillary, in total control of her correspondence, failed to release official communications that were resident exclusively on her private network to State when she left office – as State Department rules required of any employee. Only two years later, when State asked her to produce her official government emails, did she send them some 30,000 emails – but she didn’t transfer them electronically, she sent them in the form of printed documents – 55,000 pages of them. Anyone even minimally knowledgeable about computers knows that the electronic data could have easily been searched, while 55,000 printed pages must be manually viewed to look for information. In other words, she deliberately sent the State Department her documents in the most difficult to search format possible. Think that was by chance?
It certainly wasn’t for her convenience; it would have been far easier to electronically copy those 30,000 emails. It might have taken an hour or so, but compare that to the time it would have taken to print 55,000 pages. An honest and forthcoming public servant with nothing to hide would have sent those emails to State electronically and saved a lot of staff time, paper and ink or toner. So why would she send printed pages instead of electronic records? There’s only one answer; she knew that searching those paper pages would take months and she was buying time.
How did she determine what was sent to State? Hillary alone decided. Not a disinterested third party. Not the State Department’s Inspector General. No one with any kind of authority made that determination, Hillary decided.
Does anyone think that there’s anything incriminating in those 55,000 pages that she sent? Not a chance. Anything that would point to a Hillary misdeed would have been removed from what she sent to State, leaving only boring, ordinary unimportant dialogue.
And after she “voluntarily” sent her official emails to State, she quickly deleted all the other emails stored on her personal server. Why would she do that?
Reportedly, she had some 66,000 emails on the server. She sent 30,000 to State leaving 36,000 that were supposedly “personal” emails. She says that they all had to do with Chelsea’s wedding, favorite yoga exercises, and family matters. To believe that requires a willing suspension of disbelief. She wants us to believe that there were no official emails among those 36,000 deleted records. Considering that she used her private network for all of her official email correspondence and never used the State Department’s system – how many emails might she have sent and received in four years?
There were surely more business emails than personal ones, so let’s first take a stab at estimating how many personal emails might have been resident on her server.
How many emails does it take to plan a wedding, and a funeral? Wouldn’t a couple hundred be a lot? But let’s give her the benefit and say that there were 500. What about her favorite yoga exercises? Let’s allot her another 500. And let’s estimate another 1,000 for emails between Hillary and Bill, her brothers and other family members – her family correspondence. It appears unlikely that there were more than 2,000 personal emails – but let’s be overly cautious and double that estimate to 4,000 personal emails – over four years. And her super-secret, super-secure, server wouldn’t be subject to an accumulation of public domain trash and junk mail like our ordinary email accounts are.
That leaves approximately 32,000 unaccounted-for emails – most likely all containing some official business. Not an unrealistic number. Were there some emails that could have contained evidence of Hillary’s activities that she didn’t want known and thus, needed to “disappear?” What do you think? So true to form, Hillary covered her tracks by deleting them all, all 36,000 supposedly personal emails. Even those that most folks would want to preserve, like Chelsea’s wedding or her mom’s funeral, and which wouldn’t be of interest to anyone else. And now, she refuses to let even an objective, disinterested third party access to the server.
Frankly, I don’t understand why she doesn’t allow access to the server; I imagine that by now, she’s had the hard drive swapped out and the old one mechanically shredded, making any retrieval of her emails literally impossible. And since it can’t be proven (so far) that she deleted official documents – some of which had been subpoenaed and/or were subject to FOIA disclosure, she has protected herself from felony prosecution for destroying official documents.
By making the server available, she could profess to be voluntarily allowing forensic examination to prove that no emails remain. All the examiners would learn is that the hard drive was replaced. Hillary’s technicians will maintain that it crashed and had to be replaced (sound familiar?), but Hillary wasn’t even aware that it had been replaced. Coincidentally, the crash occurred shortly after she deleted the personal emails. Could it have been that early April power outage? Poor Hillary, what bad luck … all of the emails gone forever.
But wait, there’s more. Stay tuned folks!
Hot on the heels of Hillary’s email woes comes the Clinton foundation scandal – another opportunity for Hillary to prove that she’s smarter than everyone else and can fearlessly do things that would land an ordinary citizen in prison.
Of course you know about the Clinton Foundation, right?
Originally based in Little Rock, Arkansas and known as the William J. Clinton Foundation, it was established by former U.S. President Bill Clinton after he left office in 2001. Altruistic horndog Bill supposedly wanted “to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.” Sure he did.
Claiming to be politically nonpartisan and non-profit, the Foundation administered a number of major programs, the best-known being the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
What brought the Foundation into the news is an accusation that it serves as a money laundering mechanism for the Clinton family. It collects money from donors, and once in the Foundation coffers, is doled out under the control of the Clinton family. This would hardly gain notice except for the fact that Hillary is now running for president and will need boatloads of cash to fund her campaign – some are estimating as much as $2.5 billion (that’s billion with a “B”).
Even that wouldn’t raise the Foundation’s solicitations to front page news except that millions of dollars seem to be flowing into the Foundation’s bank account from foreign sources.
Before Hillary’s confirmation in 2009, President Barack Obama’s transition team recognized that there could be a conflict of interest in the Secretary of State’s husband raising millions while she represented U.S. interests abroad. So they made an agreement with the Clintons to require an ethics review of new foreign donations to the Foundation and to suspend the Foundation’s foreign conferences during Hillary’s tenure at State.
Sources familiar with the discussions said that the agreement was among the most contentious issues negotiated between the two camps.
In addition to avoiding any appearance of a diplomatic quid pro quo with Hillary in exchange for donations to the Foundation, the agreement also served to keep Bill’s activities from interfering with U.S. foreign policy. The agreement didn’t prevent Bill from accepting six-figure speaking fees, but it did require that he alert State Department ethics officials before any major event and receive approval. Perhaps it’s coincidental, but none of his speech requests or business proposals was rejected during Hillary’s tenure at State.
Another interesting aspect of the Clinton ethics agreement is that while it subjected Bill’s moneymaking activities to official review, it imposed no vetting of donations to the Clinton Foundation by individuals or private companies, either in the U.S. or abroad.
There were questions about possible links between Bill’s speaking engagements and donations to the Clinton Foundation, but the issue was never really resolved, it just quietly went away.
After Hillary Clinton left office in 2013, the Foundation was renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and it resumed fundraising from foreign governments that had been off-limits during her government service.
Donations in the past two years have come from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia and Germany. The foreign gifts – disclosed voluntarily on the Clinton Foundation website – have led to calls from activists and ethics watchdogs for the foundation to cease such fundraising as Clinton ramps up her expected campaign drive.
Many governmental ethics experts still see a potential for mischief in the foundation continuing to solicit contributions while Hillary runs for the presidency.
Kirk Hanson, director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California, said the Clintons should immediately reimpose the ban on foreign donors; “Now that she is gearing up to run for president, the same potential exists for foreign governments to curry favor with her as a potential president of the United States,” he said.
“I think the Foundation should stop taking money from foreign sources – now,” said Richard Painter, a fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics and a former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush.
The previous State Department ethics agreement is coming under new scrutiny as Hillary Clinton prepares to enter the 2016 presidential race and she has indicated that she would be willing to enact a similar agreement should she be elected president. But Foundation officials have stopped short of promising to reject funds from foreign governments if Hillary Clinton does win the presidency.
The need for such an agreement is obvious. It is necessary to prevent any appearance of conflict of interest. That works for most people. But the problem is the Clintons don’t care about any appearance of conflict of interest; it means nothing to them; it’s the equivalent of a small speed bump. They have a multitude of ways around it. As president, a simple nod from her is all it would take to extend favorable terms on a trade agreement; she needn’t make a formal statement or sign a document.
It’s the Clinton way – leave no evidence behind; nothing to haunt her during a subsequent investigation. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hillary communicate with Huma Abedin and other close advisors using Swahili sign language just to eliminate any form of hard evidence and prevent any electronic eavesdropping.
And all anyone has to do get her attention is “donate” substantial dollars to the Foundation. In the Clinton’s case, the big bucks coming from foreign governments aren’t really charitable contributions; they’re fees, plain and simple. Fees for Favors. You pays your fee, you gets your favor. Maybe an “overnight” in the Lincoln Bedroom, or a favorable nudge to a business proposal tied up in a federal approval process.
At least four foreign countries gave to the foundation in 2013 – Norway, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands – a fact that has garnered little attention. The number of governments contributing in 2014 appears to have doubled from the previous year. Since its founding, the foundation has raised at least $48 million from overseas governments, according to a Journal tally.
United Arab Emirates, a first-time donor, gave between $1 million and $5 million in 2014, and the German government – which also hadn’t previously given – contributed between $100,000 and $250,000.
A previous donor, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has given between $10 million and $25 million since the foundation was created in 1999. Part of that came in 2014, although the database doesn’t specify how much.
The Australian government has given between $5 million and $10 million, at least part of which came in 2014. It also gave in 2013, when its donations fell in the same range.
Qatar’s government committee preparing for the 2022 soccer World Cup gave between $250,000 and $500,000 in 2014. Qatar’s government had previously donated between $1 million and $5 million.
Oman, which had made a donation previously, gave an undisclosed amount in 2014. Over time, Oman has given the foundation between $1 million and $5 million. Prior to last year, its donations fell in the same range.
All of the aforementioned donations raise ethical questions as Hillary begins her bid for the presidency. It sure looks like “pay to play” doesn’t it? When we start to follow the money relating to the Clinton family, we’ll need to be sure to follow the money into the Foundation, that’s where the “Fee for Favor” money will go to be laundered.
The Clintons have built a global foundation that has attracted $2 billion in contributions, including many from foreign governments and business entities. Are we to believe that those donors won’t receive preferential treatment by “president” Hillary?
I believe that one day the Clinton family will be thought of as a modern day Mafia family, like the Genovese, Gambino, or Lucchese crime families, but without the moral scruples of the Mafia.