Like millions of avid news readers, I’ve been trying to sort out the Hillary Clinton scandals. You know, all that stuff about classified material on her “private” server, sensitive national security secrets that have most likely been lifted by hostiles.
I think we’ve lost track of the central question: Why was she so eager to conceal her communications from Congress and the American public? Most of the commentary goes something like “because she wanted to evade discovery.” She dreaded all the FOIAs. But that only leads to the question another time: What did she want to hide, and why? Most of her policy decisions would be recorded elsewhere, and could be discovered. Indeed, policy cables, memos and emails are excellent tools for deception and she could have used them for that purpose (Henry Kissinger advised me a long time ago that the only reason for writing a memo was to have it leaked, and he played that game brilliantly).
What if the concealment had to do with non-policy matters? Or with policy issues linked to something else? Money, for example. Not U.S. government money, but private money that would enrich the Clintons themselves?
The most frightening explanation is that she sold foreign policy favors to the highest bidders to the Clinton Foundation and/or her husband.
Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash, argues that we can’t understand the “server” story unless we look carefully at the Clinton Foundation. In his opinion, some of Hillary’s policy decisions were linked to contributions to the Clinton Foundation. He calls our attention to the surprising fact that 20% of U.S. uranium is under the control of companies owned by Russia, and the Clinton Foundation pocketed roughly $150 million from the companies and advisers involved in the deals.
And banks. The Clinton Foundation (and the Clintons individually) has earned a lot of money from banks, which have gotten things they wanted.
Ten of the world’s biggest financial institutions––including UBS, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs––have hired Bill Clinton numerous times since 2004 to speak for fees totaling more than $6.4 million. Hillary Clinton also has accepted speaking fees from at least one bank. And along with an 11th bank, the French giant BNP Paribas, the financial goliaths also donated as much as $24.9 million to the Clinton Foundation––the family’s global charity set up to tackle causes from the AIDS epidemic in Africa to climate change.
Such practices raise suspicions that there was a complex quid pro quo: the secretary of State helps the banks, and the banks help the Foundation, which helps Bill and Hillary. The Wall Street Journal flags a suggestive case with the Swiss giant UBS:
Total donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation grew from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014, according to the foundation and the bank,” they report. “The bank also joined the Clinton Foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, through which it lent $32 million. And it paid former president Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions with UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive Bob McCann, making UBS his biggest single corporate source of speech income disclosed since he left the White House.
The UBS generosity followed Hillary’s involvement in solving a very messy problem with the Internal Revenue Service. Did any of Hillary’s vanished emails relate to her assistance to UBS, or to the Swiss’ payments and loans to her Clinton Foundation? We don’t know—these stories appeared a year go and I haven’t seen much followup—but it does support Schweizer’s insistence that we look at the email scandal and the activities of the Clinton Foundation as part of a coherent enterprise. And it might well help answer the question “why keep her emails away from the usual channels?”
Then there’s the Nigerian speaking fees. For eight years, the Nigerians weren’t interested in having Bill come and lecture, but once Hillary moved into Foggy Bottom, they were eager to invite him. They paid $700,000 each for two speeches, two of his three biggest lecture fees. Do you think the Nigerians got nothing in return?
There are many other similar stories, suggesting that Hillary was essentially selling foreign policy favors to the highest bidders to the family and the Foundation.
That she was in it, at least in part, for the money is effectively demonstrated by some of the emails we DO know about: those to and from her white knight, Sidney Blumenthal. He was working in cahoots with a couple of retired American spooks, a former Army officer, and a professional fund raiser—named in his emails—and they formed a company to do “good works” in Libya (schools, hospitals, etc.). Blumenthal’s gang claimed excellent access to various governmental sources in Libya and elsewhere, and sent on their findings to Hillary. She, in turn, asked top policy makers to pay attention to Blumenthal’s reports. At the same time, Blumenthal was employed by the Clinton Foundation, and, as the New York Times wryly commented, it was often difficult to figure out where one of his jobs ended and another began. Nor do the emails tell us if Hillary knew of Blumenthal’s Libyan business ventures (although one will get you five she knew all about them; that relationship goes back to the Clinton White House, and was so intimate that Obama’s staff vetoed Hillary’s suggestion that Blumenthal become a State Department official).
All this has been known to investigators in both the government and FBI for more than a year, yet there hasn’t been much discussion of the “business side” of Hillary’s tenure at State, not even a followup on the $165 billion in arms sales to countries that enriched the Foundation. Perhaps we will hear more about it some day, and if that happens I hope very much that it throws some light on this very dark, but very plausible scenario: that one of our presidential candidates was willing to make American foreign policy available to the highest bidders.
Or do you think Bill Clinton is worth $700 thousand for a speech?