In today’s installment we learn that (1) Hillary Clinton, during an official visit to Bangladesh as Secretary of State, publicly defended the bank of a crooked long-time friend of her husband and major Clinton Foundation donor, (2) in response, the Clinton Foundation emailed top Hillary aide Cheryl Mills about accepting a donation from the bank and a giant Abu Dhabi oil company, (3) the Clinton Foundation accepted the donation, and (4) Bill Clinton ended up with a big speaking fee.
This information comes from a May 7, 2012, email chain between Mills and the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director, obtained through the legal efforts of Citizens United, and from the reporting of Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller.
As always with Clinton cash corruption, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. The players here, in addition to the Clintons and Cheryl Mills, are:
Muhammad Yunnus — a longtime friend of Bill Clinton. He has often been a featured speaker at the annual Clinton Global Initiative celebrity galas in New York. His Grameen America foundation donated between $100,000 to $250,000, according to the Clinton Foundation website. During Hillary’s tenure at State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, a State Department division, awarded millions of grant dollars to Yunus and to his allies
The Grameen Bank — a Bangladesh bank run by Yunnus that was supposed to give out “micro-loans” to poor women in the country.
TAQA — a giant oil and gas company in Abu Dhabi, formally known as the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company. Owned mostly by the Abu Dhabi government, it operates in 11 countries, including Canada and the United States. In 2010, it won the first of three “blanket agreements” with the Obama administration to import billions of cubic feet of natural gas from Canada into the United States.
Lidia Andich — the Clinton Foundation’s development director.
Amitabh Desai — the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director.
The story begins when Yunus was charged by an official Bangladeshi commission with financial mismanagement of Grameen Bank. Eventually, he was forced to leave the bank. Hillary responded to the charges against Yunus by publicly urging the government of Bangladesh not to do anything to undermine his bank. She said this during an official visit to Bangladesh.
Then came the May 7, 2012 email chain that Citizens United recently pried loose. The chain kicks off when Andich of the Clinton Foundation saw an Associated Press article about Clinton’s intervention on behalf of Yunus. Andich attached the AP article to an email to Desai (the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director) and wrote:
Just reading about HRC’s support of the Grameen Bank, which prompted me to check in for any updates for the State Department, re: the Donation from TAQA.
To refresh, they bought the ‘spend a day with President Clinton’ auction experience — donation to be split 50/50 with Grameen. The winners are top execs from their Scottish office, not Abu Dhabi.
Three hours later, Desai forwarded Andich’s email to Mills and wrote, “we’d welcome your guidance on accepting funds from TAQA.” Mills replied, “Will call to discuss.”
The donation of TAQA funds was being offered by TAQA’s managing director in Scotland. He had agreed to give $60,000 to the Foundation for Bill to speak at a Scotland charity and auction.
Ultimately, the Foundation accepted the donation of $60,000. Bill went to Scotland where, in addition to collecting the donation to his Foundation, he received at least $250,000 for a speech before a group called “Business For Change,” according to the Foundation’s website. The black tie dinner raised funds for Yunus and his bank.
And a good time was had by all.
This scenario repeats a familiar pattern documented by Peter Schweitzer in Clinton Cash. Hillary Clinton, in her capacity as Secretary of State, does a favor for a big donor. The donor contributes more money. Bill Clinton gets a lucrative speaking opportunity.
As usual, too, there is a very deep pocket in the picture. Here, it is TAQA/Abu Dhabi. As Pollack shows, the Clintons’ connections with Abu Dhabi run deep, as do Cheryl Mills’.
But here we also have evidence of involvement by Hillary Clinton’s top State Department aide in the transfer of money from a Clinton Foundation donor to the Clinton Foundation. Foundation staff sought “guidance” on accepting the dough.
We don’t know what guidance Mills gave. However, the donation went through, which suggests that Mills, in the phone call she promised, authorized it.
Why did the Foundation seek Mills’ (and therefore Hillary’s) guidance. Presumably, to make sure the donation wouldn’t embarrass Hillary. Note how Andich pointed out that the winners of “the Bill Clinton experience” would be executives from TAQ’s Scottish office, not from Abu Dhabi.
As I discussed in connection with yesterday’s Hillary/Clinton Foundation scandal, Hillary Clinton agreed to the following before she became Secretary of State:
For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will 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.
Signing off on contributions to the Clinton Foundation strikes me as inconsistent with that pledge. And the whole deal stinks.