Newly released emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state have revealed that Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Mr. Gilbert Chagoury used his relationship with the Clinton Foundation set up by her husband former President Bill Clinton to seek for favours from the US State Department.
Chagoury is a close friend of the former US president and a top donor to the Clinton Foundation. He has appeared near the top of the Foundation’s donor list as a $1 million to $5 million contributor, according to foundation documents. He also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative.
The revelation has raised questions about the nature of the State Department’s relationship with the Clinton Foundation, when she was secretary of state.
CNN reported yesterday that Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, released 296 pages of emails from the Democratic presidential nominee, including 44 that Judicial Watch says were not previously handed over to the State Department by Clinton.
The emails, many of which are heavily redacted, raise questions about the Clinton Foundation’s influence on the State Department and its relations during her tenure.
In one instance, top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band lobbied Clinton aides for a job for someone else in the State Department. In the email, Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former aides at the department — Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — that it is “important to take care of (redacted).” Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.”
The emails were obtained by the group through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the State Department in 2015.
The Trump campaign seized at the new batch of emails, citing them as evidence of Clinton being corrupt.
The prolonged investigations into her use of a private email server while at the State Department has fuelled public distrust of her and plagued her presidential bid.
But the Justice Department declined to press charges against Clinton for her handling of classified information related to the server earlier this year, with FBI Director James Comey saying while she was “extremely careless,” it was his judgment that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
In a 2009 email, Band directs Abedin and Mills to put Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and Clinton Foundation donor, in contact with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon.
“We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance person re Lebanon,” Band wrote. “As you know, he’s a key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.”
“It’s jeff feltman,” Abedin responded, referring to Jeffrey Feltman, who was the US ambassador to Lebanon at the time. “I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to jeff.”
Feltman told CNN yesterday that he never met with Chagoury.
“I have never met nor spoken with Mr Chagoury. I was not aware of the proposal that he speak to me until this email exchange was released, but in any case we never spoke,” he said.
Judicial Watch President Tom Filton said in a press release that Clinton “hid” the 44 emails on purpose.
“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” he said in a press release. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”
Clinton’s campaign said the emails didn’t relate to her work at the Clinton Foundation.
“Neither of these emails involve the secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work,” said an emailed statement from Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin. “They are communications between her aides and the President’s personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was for one of the Secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the Foundation.”
The Clinton campaign said yesterday that Chagoury only wanted to offer insights on the then-upcoming Lebanese election and was not looking for any specific action from the State Department.
“The right-wing organization behind this lawsuit has been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s and no matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as secretary of state because of donations to the Clinton Foundation,” Schwerin said in a statement.
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump sought to use the emails to paint Clinton as corrupt.
The Clinton Foundation was not part of the recent investigation into her private server; it was separate. The FBI went to Justice Department earlier this year asking for it to open a case into the foundation, but the public integrity unit declined.
The Justice Department had looked into whether it should open a case on the foundation a year prior and found it didn’t have sufficient evidence to do so.
Yesterday, Judicial Watch released written testimony from Mills, in which she provides further detail on how Clinton’s private email server was set up to address potentially security concerns.
Mills told the attorneys she spoke with a Clinton IT staffer in 2013, after learning the email account of a close Clinton confidante, Sidney Blumenthal, had been compromised by a hacker.
“As I recall, these discussions involved whether this event might affect Secretary Clinton’s email,” Mills said in follow-up answers to an earlier deposition given to Judicial Watch.
Mills also said she recalls speaking to the same staffer — Bryan Pagliano — about the company overseeing the server set up.
“As I recall, these discussions involved whether Platte River Networks would have the technical capacity and be the appropriate source from which to gather Secretary Clinton’s email from the clintonemail.com system,” Mills said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics
She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.
Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.
She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.
“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.
In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.
Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”
According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.
“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.
“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.
She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.
“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.
“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.
“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”
To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”
She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”
Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.
“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.
Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”
According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.
In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”
While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.
Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”
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