Is the Clinton Foundation Hillary’s Achilles’ Heel?
Policy + Politics

Is the Clinton Foundation Hillary’s Achilles’ Heel?

Lucy Nicholson

As Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the presidential election creates fresh new problems for himself virtually every day, Clinton herself is dogged by old problems that keep getting dragged back into the light. The long-running piecemeal release of her State Department emails to the watchdog group Judicial Watch is a case in point.

The group released another batch of Clinton’s emails yesterday, some of which suggested that there was more coordination between the Clinton family’s charitable foundation and the State Department than was necessarily known at the time Clinton was serving as the nation’s chief diplomat.

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Judicial Watch gamely tried to spin the contents of the new emails into something perhaps a bit bigger than the emails warranted.

“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”

But in truth, the revelations are more mundane than explosive. One involves an email from Clinton Foundation official Doug Band seeking a State Department job for someone, stressing to two of Clinton’s top aides that it is important to “take care” of the unnamed person. Clinton aide Huma Abedin responded that the department’s personnel department was already on the case and was sending him “options.”

Another presses the State Department to put wealthy Lebanese-Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury in touch with the U.S. ambassador in Nigeria. Chagoury is a major Clinton Foundation donor and a friend to former president Bill Clinton.

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None of the activity described in the emails appears to cross any serious moral or ethical line. That past associates become job seekers in a new presidential administration, or that friendships and charitable donations are used to get the ear of people in influential positions is neither surprising nor illegal.

The real problem for Clinton is that the 296 pages of emails released Tuesday include dozens of messages that were not among those Clinton handed over to the State Department from the private emails server that she controversially maintained during her time as secretary of state and used for most of her official correspondence.

Clinton’s decision to use the private server in the first place, and her further decision to allow her own advisers to permanently erase tens of thousands of documents that they determined were “private” and had no bearing on her duties as secretary of state, are for many an enormous black mark on her record of public service.

In an op-ed published in The New York Times, former Central Intelligence Agency director Michael V. Hayden wrote, “To anyone who has actually had to protect the nation’s secrets, Hillary Clinton’s email setup as secretary of state was inconceivable and her later explanations of it were incomprehensible. The judgment by the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, that her handling of the emails was ‘extremely careless’ was, to the intelligence tribe, a huge understatement.”

Each time Judicial Watch releases a new batch of emails, it serves a regular reminder of a decision that numerous former intelligence professionals have described as disqualifying Clinton from the presidency.

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The fact that each of the releases seems to contain more official correspondence that Clinton never turned over to the State Department reinforces the widely held belief that Clinton is not trustworthy.

If the Judicial Watch release on Tuesday hadn’t been overshadowed by Clinton’s opponent, GOP nominee Donald Trump, appearing to suggest armed resistance to her judicial nominations if she is elected, it might have received a little more play in the media.

But the real harm to Clinton from this isn’t likely to come from one or two explosive headlines, but from the regular reminder of this festering self-inflicted wound that show no sign of healing.