Politics August 12, 2016: Senate Republicans take on possible corruption over State Dept and Clinton Foundation

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Senate Republicans take on possible corruption over State Dept and Clinton Foundation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 06:  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) speaks during a news briefing July 6, 2016 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Senate GOPs held a weekly policy luncheon to discuss Republican agenda.Ê  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 06: U.S. Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) speaks during a news briefing July 6, 2016 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Senate GOPs held a weekly policy luncheon to discuss Republican agenda.Ê (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Republican are taking the news that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might have abused her power as Secretary of State seriously. Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, questioning why the State Department and Department of Justice refused to investigate a potential conflict of interest between Clinton’s high-ranking aides working at the department and her husband former President Bill Clinton’s foundation.

In the past couple of days, two troubling incidents have shown a possible conflict of interest or at worst abuse of power during Clinton’s tenure. First, was when Conservative Watchdog group Judicial Watch published previously unreleased emails from Clinton’s aide with emails to and from Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, two trusted aides to Clinton.

The emails consisted of a request from to find a position for someone close to the foundation by a close aide to Bill Clinton, and to help a donor meet the Lebanese ambassador. Next came the CNN investigation report which uncovered that Mills interviewed candidates to head the Clinton Foundation, while she was Chief of Staff at the State Department.

Although Clinton’s campaign and the State Department defended Mill’s actions, Republicans are not accepting those responses. Cornyn in his letter said the State Dept and DOJ “favors Secretary Clinton.” The Majority Whip wrote, “This contrast does little to instill faith in the Department, part of why I called for an appointment of the Special Counsel in the email matter. But greater clarity for the public on the basis for your decision may.”

The Texas Senator called the recent discoveries “unacceptable” behavior. Sen. Cronyn continued, “It violates the commitment Secretary Clinton made to Congress and the Executive Branch following her nomination to be Secretary of State. That and her proven record of extreme carelessness with national security warrant a careful examination of Secretary Clinton’s other conduct and that of her staff.”

Additionally, Cronyn asked about CNN’s report, and why the FBI asked the DOJ to “open a case and pursue criminal charges,” however, the DOJ decided against an investigation. The DOJ claims they did not investigate because of lack of “evidence.” Cronyn wanted to know if DOJ employee, who decided against pursuing the case were questioned. The Majority Whip was concerned that at Lynch’s meeting with former President Clinton at a tarmac in Phoenix earlier this summer they discussed the conflict of interest.

Politics August 11, 2016: Investigation State Dept aide interviewed job candidates for Clinton Foundation

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Investigation State Dept aide interviewed job candidates for Clinton Foundation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Attorney Cheryl Mills (L) listens as former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. Clinton took the stand Thursday to defend her role in responding to deadly attacks on the US mission in Libya, as Republicans forged ahead with an inquiry criticized as partisan anti-Clinton propaganda. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Attorney Cheryl Mills (L) listens as former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. Clinton took the stand Thursday to defend her role in responding to deadly attacks on the US mission in Libya, as Republicans forged ahead with an inquiry criticized as partisan anti-Clinton propaganda. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

It is possible the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton blurred the lines with her husband’s Bill Clinton’s foundation while she was serving as Secretary of State. According to a CNN investigation report released on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Clinton’s Chief of Staff and longtime aide Cheryl Mills interviewed two candidates in 2012 for a high position at the Clinton Foundation.

In 2009, as Clinton was set to become Secretary of State to she created guidelines about the Clinton Foundation to ensure that it does not “create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.”

Recent emails, however, released by Conservative Watchdog Group Judicial Watch and CNN investigation prove otherwise. The emails indicate that Clinton’s top aides at the State Department Mills and Huma Abedin, another longtime aide who served as Deputy Chief of Staff may have blurred the lines between their positions at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation showing possible “corruption.”

According to the report, on June 19, 2012, Mills, still serving as Clinton’s Secretary of State Chief of Staff at the State Department took an Amtrak train from Washington to New York. There at executive search firm Mills interviewed two business executives “one from Pfizer and another from Wal-Mart” for the position leading the Clinton Foundation. Both companies are donors to the foundation and “partner” with the Clinton Global Initiative.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon downplayed any connection, saying in a statement on Thursday, “Cheryl volunteered her personal time to a charitable organization, as she has to other charities. Cheryl paid for her travel to New York City personally, and it was crystal clear to all involved that this had nothing to do with her official duties. The idea that this poses a conflict of interest is absurd.” Mill’s lawyer also claims that she did the work voluntarily, was not paid and did not use government funds for the trip.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa also wants real answers about Mills trip and her involvement in the job search. In January, Grassley sent current Secretary of State John Kerry a letter requesting further explanations about Mill’s actions but never received a response.

Scott Amey, “an attorney for the Project on Government Oversight,” believes the State Departments needs to provide answers and be accountable to Congress on this potential corruption and abuse of power. Amey stated, “Congress has a rightful right to ask for any information that it wants to from the executive branch of government to keep track of them. And the government should be turning that information over, when you have a breakdown in that system, we have a breakdown in our democracy.”

CNN asked the State Department if Mills had permission or needed it to do what she did with the Clinton Foundation job search. The department responded, “Federal employees are permitted to engage in outside personal activities, within the scope of the federal ethics rules. All federal employees are subject to federal ethics laws and regulations, including rules pertaining to conflicts of interest.”

Mills’ actions are not so innocent. Mills has a long history with both Clintons, and her loyalties have been with them. According to CNN during the first Clinton Administration, Mills served as Deputy White House counsel and defended Bill during his Congressional impeachment hearings. During Hillary’s first run for president in 2008 Mills was her senior legal campaign adviser. Mills also served on the board of the Clinton Foundation before leaving her post at the State Department, after the brief interlude, she is again serving on the board.

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