US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Power struggles at Clinton Foundation

NEW YORK • In the years before Mrs Hillary Clinton announced she would run again for president, her top aides expressed profound concerns in internal e-mails about how foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and former president Bill Clinton's own moneymaking ventures would affect her political future.

The e-mails, obtained by hackers and being gradually released by WikiLeaks, reveal how efforts to minimise potential conflicts at the foundation led to power struggles and infighting among aides and the Clinton family.

One top aide to Mr Clinton, Mr Douglas Band, noted in an e-mail that the former president had received personal income from some foundation donors and "gets many expensive gifts from them".

Ms Chelsea Clinton accused her father's aides of taking "significant sums of money from my parents personally", of "hustling" during foundation events to win clients for their own business, and of even installing spyware on her chief of staff's computer.

Mrs Clinton, another e-mail showed, had promised to attend a Clinton Foundation gathering in Morocco at the behest of its king, who had pledged US$12 million (S$16.7 million) to the charity. Her advisers worried that would look unseemly just as she was beginning her presidential campaign in earnest.

"She created this mess and she knows it," a close aide, Ms Huma Abedin, wrote of Mrs Clinton in a January 2015 e-mail.

For months, the Clintons have defended their family foundation, making public proclamations that it went above and beyond what the law required in terms of transparency while Mrs Clinton was at the State Department.

The e-mails, which came from the account of Mr John Podesta, who had a leadership role at the foundation and is now Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman, have not contained evidence to support Republican contentions that she performed any favours for foundation donors.

But they do show pronounced worries among the Clintons' closest advisers about the millions of dollars coming into the foundation, and to Mr Clinton personally, and how they could inoculate Mrs Clinton from criticism over it.

She did not attend the event in Morocco that Ms Abedin had complained about; her husband and daughter did go. It is unclear if the king had given the US$12 million he was said to have pledged.

Mrs Clinton has dismissed criticism of the charity as politically motivated. A spokesman for the Clinton campaign declined to verify the authenticity of the e-mails, but said the hack was part of the Russian government's efforts to use cyber attacks to influence the election in favour of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline 'Power struggles at Clinton Foundation'. Print Edition | Subscribe