- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump demanded a special prosecutor investigate Hillary Clinton’s actions at the State Department after emails made public Monday showed the former secretary’s top aides being begged to do special favors for the Clinton Foundation.

Mrs. Clinton had agreed to avoid entanglements with her family’s foundation when she took the job as the country’s chief diplomat. But the State Department says those restrictions didn’t apply to Huma Abedin, her close personal assistant and deputy chief of staff, who was asked on one occasion to speed up a visa for a member of a U.K. soccer team.

Another time, Doug Band, head of the Clinton Global Initiative, begged Ms. Abedin to arrange a meeting between Mrs. Clinton and the crown prince of Bahrain, who was a top foundation donor.

Ms. Abedin seemed reluctant to help with the visa for the Wolverhampton FC player, indicating she feared she was crossing a line.

“Makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask,” Ms. Abedin told Mr. Band in one 2009 email message.

“Then dont [sic],” Mr. Band replied to Ms. Abedin.

SEE ALSO: FBI found nearly 15,000 new Hillary Clinton emails

But when it came to Bahrain, Mr. Band’s pressure — he called the crown prince a “good friend of ours” — appeared to help overcome Mrs. Clinton’s reluctance to schedule the meeting. It went onto her schedule some two days after Mr. Band asked Ms. Abedin to intervene.

The new emails, obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm, put more pressure on Mrs. Clinton to distance herself from the foundation that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made the centerpiece of his post-administration life.

Mr. Trump seized on the latest email disclosure as evidence that Mrs. Clinton may have been involved in corrupt dealings to enrich her family foundation. He said the Obama administration has proved itself incapable of investigating her, so a special prosecutor is needed.

“The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant number of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately,” Mr. Trump said during a campaign rally in Akron, Ohio.

The Justice Department has reportedly shot down a request from some corners of the FBI to conduct an investigation.

Bowing to pressure, the Clinton Foundation last week signaled that it would stop accepting foreign and corporate contributions if Mrs. Clinton wins the White House, but Republicans say that policy should have been in place while Mrs. Clinton was at the State Department.

SEE ALSO: New emails show Clinton Foundation asked Huma Abedin for favors at State Dept.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said the foundation questioning was a sideshow and that more attention should be paid to pressuring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

“We’ve got to know who Donald Trump is beholden to because we don’t want to be tricked by Trump,” the U.S. senator from Virginia told a labor union convention in Las Vegas. “If you’ve played fast and loose with your taxes, the voters deserve to know it. If you spent years exaggerating how rich you are, the voters deserve to know.”

Mrs. Clinton took a number of her closest aides with her when she went to the State Department in 2009, and many of them left at about the time she departed in early 2013. Meanwhile, Clinton confidantes also ran the family’s eponymous foundation.

The two sides appear to have kept a cozy relationship, according to the emails released this month.

In one exchange, Mr. Band — who founded Teneo, a consulting company where Ms. Abedin would eventually work while still with the State Department — asked for insider information on who would be named ambassador of France.

Ms. Abedin demurred, saying she wasn’t sure. Days later, President Obama appointed a top Democratic donor to the post.

At one point, as Mr. Band was trying to get help with securing a visa for the soccer player, he and Ms. Abedin were having trouble connecting.

“You have 50 email accounts,” Mr. Band chided her.

President Obama had been worried about Mrs. Clinton’s mixing of family business and personal ambitions with her public role as his top diplomat, and insisted she sign an agreement limiting her dealings with the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary.

But the State Department said Monday that her top aides weren’t bound by that agreement, so the outreach by foundation bigwigs was not against their rules.

Spokesman Mark Toner said the emails showing contacts from the outside asking for special favors are “evidence of the way the process works.”

“Requests for meetings with the secretary come from a broad range of sources, and through different channels, both formal and informal,” Mr. Toner said. “There was nothing precluding State Department officials from having contact in this respect with Clinton Foundation staff.”

The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, questioned the motives of Judicial Watch, the watchdog group that forced the emails into the public through open-records requests, and said there is no evidence Mrs. Clinton was swayed by the foundation’s business.

“Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks,” said Josh Schwerin, national spokesman of Hillary for America. “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.”

⦁ Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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