Yes, Clinton foundation donors had direct access to the State Department

Jonathan Karl at ABC News has an exclusive report this weekend which should prove to be information fully as shocking and groundbreaking as a revelation that water is wet. A number of new emails from the State Department show without a doubt that generous donors to the Clinton Foundation were able to have their requests for access to the Secretary of State or high power affairs organized through that department channeled directly to the folks in charge while Hillary Clinton was in office. I know… I know… you’ll need a moment to recover from the shock. (ABC News)

A series of newly released State Department emails obtained by ABC News offers fresh insight on direct contact between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s inner circle while she was Secretary of State.

The emails -– released as part of a public records lawsuit by conservative group Citizens United and shared exclusively with ABC — reveal what the group claims is new evidence Foundation allies received special treatment. [Read the emails here.]

In one December 2010 email chain with Clinton’s closest aide Huma Abedin, then-top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band offers names for a State Department lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao scheduled for January 2011.

On the list were three executives from organizations that have donated millions to the Clinton Foundation: Bob McCann, the then-president of wealth management at UBS; Dr. Judith Rodin, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Hikmet Ersek, the CEO of Western Union.

In the end, whether these people received any direct favors may prove nearly impossible to establish, but that’s not really the question. It would be a foolish politician indeed who would ever draw up a document saying that if you give millions to their family’s foundation they’ll do you this or that favor using the power of their office. The Clintons may be many things, but they’re not that stupid or they’d never have risen as high as they have. There’s also a standing defense available to them by simply saying that the favorable action was one which they were already considering anyway and they’d have done it with or without some particular meeting or donation.

But when it comes to earning the trust of the American voters, such verbal gymnastics aren’t really where we draw the line. Don’t come around peeing on our legs and then tell us it’s raining. Influence peddling is much like the old Supreme Court definition of pornography when it comes to this discussion. We know it when we see it.

By way of defense, Team Clinton is rolling out the same few lines they have available to them. One is the argument that the number of private donors who received such preferential treatment is only a tiny portion of the total number of people who had business with the State Department. That’s very true, but the vast bulk of the rest of them were all ambassadors and diplomats at various levels from around the world. Nobody is asking questions about those meetings because when you’re in charge of the State Department that’s your job. It would be more alarming if officials from France, China, South Africa or wherever couldn’t get a meeting.

This investigation deals with the far smaller number of people who come from the private sector, both in the United States and abroad, who sought face time with influencers via the State Department. And a significant portion of those just happened to be Clinton Foundation donors. This leads to the second line of defense offered up by Clinton’s people.

When asked about the apparent involvement of a top Clinton Foundation official in requesting invitations for guests for State Department functions, spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told ABC News: “The State Department does not believe it is inappropriate for the administration to consider individuals suggested by outside organizations when deciding who to invite to an official function.”

Well, it’s certainly not illegal. I suppose “inappropriate” will remain in the eye of the beholder, or at least the ones who vote. But it’s worth noting that nobody is asking about “individuals suggest by outside organizations” unless the the outside organization in question just happens to be run by the Secretary of State and her husband.

I continue to find it amazing that we’re even having this conversation. These people really have no sense of shame.