First published at Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin, March 16, 2015
At Judicial Watch, we’ve had a long relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. For more than twenty years, from our founding in 1994, Judicial Watch has consistently sought to shed sunlight on the Clintons’ activities through the Freedom of Information Act, other state and federal open government laws, and litigation. Indeed, as the Associated Press recently noted, Judicial Watch is in the forefront of new players replacing the legacy media as leaders in gathering government information.
So the recent revelations from Clinton World—that Mrs. Clinton kept a secret email system while at the State Department, and that the Clinton Foundation gobbled up vast sums of foreign money—are no surprise to us. In fact, we broke open the Foundation money story with this July 2014 investigative report. And by the way, we also triggered the creation of the Benghazi Select Committee with disclosure of this White House email, also obtained under FOIA litigation, in May.
We know the Clintons well. The secret server scandal and the unmistakable odor of financial impropriety at the Clinton Foundation are just the latest in a long train of ethical abuses, from Mrs. Clinton’s marvelously profitable cattle commodity trades, to the Whitewater Development Co., Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, Arkansas corruption, the Travel Office Affair, the missing Rose Law Firm billing records, the missing Vincent Foster records, withheld White House records, witness intimidation, the 1996 campaign finance scandal, pimping out the Lincoln Bedroom, illegal money flow from China, criminal convictions of Clinton associates in Arkansas and Washington, a war on duly appointed federal prosecutors, Monica Lewinsky, lies under oath and the abuse of the presidential power of the pardon.
“I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em,” noted the Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkett, who famously defined a particularly slippery form of corruption as “honest graft.” The Clintons, too, seen their opportunities and took ‘em.
The Clinton Foundation scandal is an excellent example. Many of our friends in the media portray the foundation as a rather opaque institution devoted to furthering the political careers and network of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea. This is true. But it is also missing the key point. The foundation is primarily a vehicle for the personal enrichment of the Clintons. They seen their gigantic, global opportunities, and they took ‘em.
For Judicial Watch’s 2014 investigative report, we released over one thousand pages of documents forced from the State Department in a still ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The investigation showed that at least $48 million flowed to the Clintons personal coffers and foundation from Mr. Clinton’s speech-making and consulting, much of it from foreign entities with stakes in U.S. foreign policy decisions.
The shakedown at work here is not particularly subtle. Bill gave the speeches and collected the money. Hillary ran the State Department. Hillary was on track to become the next president of the United States. Who would not want to curry a little influence with this powerful couple? Honest graft.
Now the media, groups like Judicial Watch, bloggers, Congress and the courts are on the trail. There will be more revelations to come about the Clintons, their foundation, and Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department. Documents on Judicial Watch’s website, for example, raise questions about funds accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China, and Iran, among others.
Were any official State Department actions influenced by these payments? We don’t know—and part of the reason we don’t know is because Mrs. Clinton’s emails are missing. None of the emails produced in Judicial Watch’s State Dept. FOIA action were from Mrs. Clinton’s secret account. We have requested a prompt search of the 55,000 pages that Mrs. Clinton has acknowledged turning over. We are also asking the courts to search for, recover and secure the other 30,000 emails Mrs. Clinton said she destroyed.
So we expect we’ll be seeing the Clintons in court, as we have so many times before. At present, we have eighteen lawsuits, ten of which are active in the federal courts, as well as approximately one hundred and sixty Freedom of Information Act submissions, that could connect to the use by Secretary Clinton and her staff of secret email accounts.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch.