Cheryl Mills assisted Clinton Foundation while serving as Clinton's chief of staff

Cheryl Mills helped the Clinton Foundation hire its next leader in 2012 while serving as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has been trying to get information on a trip Mills took to New York in June 2012 for seven months. The State Department has refused to give the GOP-led committee any information, but today CNN reports on the purpose of Mills’ trip:

On June 19, 2012, Mills, then the chief of staff for Clinton at the State Department, boarded a New York City-bound Amtrak train in Washington’s Union station.

The next morning, at the offices of a New York based executive search firm, Mills would interview two high-level business executives. Her mission was to help the Clinton Foundation find a new leader, a source told CNN.

June 19th was a Tuesday which, based on CNN’s timeline, means Mills was absent from work on a Wednesday to help out the Clinton Foundation. How was Mills able to work on behalf of the Clinton Foundation while serving as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department? According to the Mills’ attorney, she paid for the trip herself. “Cheryl volunteered her personal time to a charitable organization, as she has to other charities,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tells CNN.

Mills was on the board of the Clinton Foundation but stepped down in order to take the job with Clinton at the State Department. CNN asked the Department if Mills’ trip was approved (or if the Department was even aware of it) and got a vague ethics statement in response, “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.”

All that answer tells us is that some ethics lines exist, which was clearly not the point of CNN’s question. The question is whether Mills’ specific behavior in this case may have crossed any of those lines.

When Clinton took the job as Secretary of State, she made an ethics pledge to avoid conflicts of interest involving the Clinton Foundation. As Politico reported earlier today, ethicists believe she, and her aides, violated the spirit of that pledge, if not the letter.