The latest release of Hillary Clinton’s emails raises new questions about her friend Sidney Blumenthal’s “role” in the Clinton orbit, including whether he planned to work simultaneously at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
The latest release of Clinton’s State Department emails includes a June 28, 2009 memo from Blumenthal to Clinton entitled “My role, Germany, Iran, etc.” In it, Blumenthal revealed to Clinton that he had talked to Doug Band, a top aide to former President Bill Clinton and, at the time, an adviser at the Clinton Foundation.
“I spoke with Doug Band yesterday, discussed things with him, and we will go from there,” Blumenthal wrote in his June memo. “It would be helpful if you and I speak soon to define parameters of what projects I should pursue.”
What Blumenthal meant by “projects” is not made clear in the memo or any other correspondence between the longtime friends.
Clinton had sought to bring Blumenthal to the State Department. The journalist-turned-political operative had worked in the Bill Clinton White House and on then-Sen. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. But Blumenthal’s work on that campaign — which involved him circulating discredited stories about Obama to his journalist contacts — had made many enemies in the Obama White House. And so, according an Aug. 2009 New York Times report, Obama’s chief of staff at the time, Rahm Emanuel, informed Clinton in July that Blumenthal could not work at the State Department.
The timeline of events — if accurately reported — suggests two possibilities for Blumenthal’s job prospects at the time: that Clinton and company were considering him for two jobs, one at State and one at the Clinton Foundation, or that the Clintons were developing a back-up plan for Blumenthal in case the State Department gig fell through.
The latter scenario — that the Clintons scrambled to place Blumenthal at the Foundation as a backup to the State Department job — has one interesting implication. It grossly undermines Hillary Clinton’s claims last year that Blumenthal was merely a friend who often sent her “unsolicited” emails.
Email traffic in June 2009 makes it clear that the Clintons desperately sought to include Blumenthal in their orbit, and circling as close as possible.
Blumenthal started working at the Clinton Foundation sometime in 2009, according to a Politico article published last year. He was reportedly paid $10,000 a month to help promote the Clinton nonprofit. But as Politico reported, Blumemthal’s vague role angered some employees as his hire was seen as a favor from the Clintons.
At the same time he worked for the Clinton Foundation, Blumenthal frequently sent Clinton intelligence reports about geopolitical developments which he gleaned from sensitive sources. His most prolific work was done on Libya. Blumenthal frequently emailed Clinton reports about the 2011 civil war there. In the missives, the correspondent pushed for the ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It was later revealed that Blumenthal was working with Tyler Drumheller, an ex-CIA agent who consulted for Osprey Global Solutions, a defense contractor that was invested in Libyan regime change.
Whether Blumenthal’s intel memos to Clinton were the “projects” he referenced in the conversation about Band is unclear. But the questions about Blumenthal’s “role” comes as Fox News has reported that the FBI has been investigating whether the “intersection” of State Department business and Clinton Foundation work violated any public corruption laws. Many Clinton Foundation donors were granted direct access to Sec. Clinton. Other Foundation-linked organizations and allies of the Clintons received her help on various projects.
The Clintons’ possible plans for a two-job role for Blumenthal would not much of a surprise. Several Clinton aides, including her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, were granted special government employee (SGE) status, allowing them to hold paying jobs with other organizations while working at the State Department. Abedin was granted SGE status in March 2012, allowing her to work for the Clinton Foundation and Teneo Holdings, a consulting firm which employed Doug Band and counted President Clinton as an adviser. Mills was granted SGE status in early 2009, allowing her to work for the Clinton Foundation, New York University, and a school funded by the United Arab Emirates.
Nobody with knowledge of the timeline of Blumenthal’s job application — the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, or Blumenthal’s attorney — responded to The Daily Caller’s requests for comment.
Days before Blumenthal emailed Clinton about his conversation with Band, Clinton had contacted Mills to inquire about her friend’s potential job.
“What is the latest re Sid Blumenthal?” she asked on June 22.
“Will see – he is doing the paperwork,” Mills responded.
In one June 16, 2009 email, Mills wrote to Clinton about “Sid B” that she had “reached out to him; he indicated there is a complication he wants to discuss.”
“I don’t know what it might be,” Clinton replied.
Earlier that same month Blumenthal had outed himself as a potential State Department hire.
“FYI, we have heard from an AP reporter that Sydney outed himself about coming to the Department, mentioning it without realizing he was talking to someone who actually covers our building,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley wrote to Mills on June 5.
In its June 23 scoop, the AP reported that Blumenthal was filling out paperwork and “disentangling himself from other obligations” to take the role of “special advisor without portfolio to Secretary.”
The term “without portfolio” indicates that Blumenthal was set to work as a general adviser and would not head a specific sub-agency. The AP reported that Blumenthal would not have to gain Senate approval for the position.