State Department spokesman John Kirby admitted Tuesday that the department had a list of former President Bill Clinton’s friends and associates from the Clinton Foundation, but denied that they received preferential treatment in obtaining contracts from the U.S. government in Haiti.
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked Kirby about an ABC News story from earlier Tuesday that detailed how the State Department gave special attention to emails identified with the "FOB"—friends of Bill Clinton—abbreviation following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He asked if the State Department issued beneficial contracts to "FOBs" while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
"In the wake of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, did the department give preference to people or companies that had donated to the Clinton Foundation in terms of contracts to help Haiti recover from the earthquake?" Lee asked.
"No, we looked into this when ABC was working this story," Kirby said. "We found no evidence that preferential treatment was given to any particular entity or organization with respect to contracts."
Kirby admitted that the emails flagged friends of the Clintons but said there was no evidence they received preferential treatment. He later defended Bill Clinton as being a special envoy for Haitian relief efforts for the United Nations during that time period.
After Lee questioned Kirby further on the emails, the spokesman denied that he could speak as to what may have been written in the emails by State Department employees at the time.
"I mean these people were identified as friends of the former president or not," Lee said.
"Yeah, yeah," Kirby replied.
"And so you’re saying there’s no issue here with the people who were identified as friends being, the people who weren’t identified as friends being sent to other places," Lee said.
"Well, I can’t speak to staff emails at the time," Kirby answered before stating that the department found no evidence in its review showing individuals receiving beneficial contracts.