A top Hillary Clinton aide at the State Department accepted a request from a Clinton Foundation official to try to secure a special diplomatic passport reserved solely for those with diplomatic status, according to emails released Thursday that further underscored overlapping interests between the foundation and department.
Douglas Band, who headed the Clinton Global Initiative and was serving as an adviser to Bill Clinton, sent the request to Hillary Clinton’s former senior deputy Huma Abedin in July 2009, saying that his diplomatic passport had expired. Abedin replied six minutes later, "OK" and "will figure it out," the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
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The State Department never issued the passport, which is available only to department employees and officials with diplomatic status, including former presidents.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign said Band’s request was tied to an emergency trip that Bill Clinton took to North Korea in 2009 to secure the release of two American journalists. Clinton already had a diplomatic passport as a former president.
The discussion between Band and Abedin was released among more than 500 pages of emails made public by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
"The idea that the State Department would even consider a diplomatic passport for Clinton Foundation executives is beyond belief," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told the Wall Street Journal.
Emails published by the group last month showed Band pushing Abedin to set up a meeting between a billionaire Clinton Foundation donor and the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. Fitton previously accused Clinton of withholding the documents because they contradicted her 2009 vow to sever ties with the foundation during her time as secretary of state.
"Judicial Watch is now attacking State Department officials and the 42nd president of the United States for rescuing two American journalists from North Korea," Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign told the New York Times. "This is a new low even for this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s."
The State Department said in a statement that diplomatic passports are solely issued to Foreign Service Officers or those with diplomatic status, adding that "the staff of former presidents are not included among those eligible to be issued a diplomatic passport."
Bill Clinton told foundation staff last month that he planned to resign from the foundation’s board and will end the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting amid pay-to-play accusations.