Politics

State Department Tries to Defend Appointment of Unqualified Clinton Donor

Deputy Spokesman for the Department of State, Mark Toner, tried on Friday to defend the department and Hillary Clinton after it came to light that Clinton and her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, appointed Rajiv Fernando, a major donor to the Clintons, to a sensitive government intelligence advisory board, although he had no experience or qualifications for it.

Fernando was appointed to the International Security Advisory Board by Clinton and Mills, although by profession, Fernando was a stock trader. Fernando left the Board in 2011, shortly after ABC News asked for a copy of his resume.

During the daily press briefing at the Department of State, a reporter asked Toner about Fernando's appointment as it had raised concern among some State Department employees.

"So, Mr. Fernando, he was appointed to the board, this seems to have puzzled even some State Department employees," a reporter said. "If he was at all qualified, why did he resign so suddenly after ABC News started asking questions?"

"I mean, you'd have to ask him. I mean, look, all I know and can say about this story, and I've read the story obviously, is you know, in looking at, he served on the International Security Advisory Board. And that was established to provide State Department with independent insight and advice on different international security matters. The Board should reflect, according to its charter, a balance of background, points of view, so he was chosen as part of that process of trying to choose members that represent a broad range of views, I assume. I don't have any more details into his selection process and I certainly don't have any details into why he resigned so briefly, or so quickly after he was appointed."

"Does State have any concerns that the decision to appoint him was purely political, was without any national security considerations?" the reporter asked.

"Do we have concerns that it was purely politically motivated? No, I don't think so. It's not unusual for, as I said, a broad range of individuals to be vetted and chosen for these kinds of positions," Toner said.

"Are there any other appointments made by Secretary Clinton's chief of staff or Secretary Clinton herself that the State Department had any concerns about?" the reporter asked.

"No, not that I'm aware of, no," Toner said.