The chief complaint that critics make about the Clinton Foundation is that the former and perhaps future presidents engaged in a “pay-to-play” scheme, whereby donors—many of them foreign governments—would contribute money to the charity in exchange for access to Bill or Hillary Clinton, or worse, beneficial treatment from the State Department.
On Thursday, hacked emails from WikiLeaks suggest that is precisely what happened when the king of Morocco agreed to host a Clinton Global Initiative summit and give $12 million, but only if Hillary Clinton attended the May 2015 meeting.
“No matter what happens, she will be in Morocco hosting CGI on May 5-7, 2015,” Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton aide, wrote in a November 2014 email to several other advisers, including campaign chairman John Podesta. “Her presence was a condition for the Moroccans to proceed so there is no going back on this.”
The timing of the summit was important because Hillary Clinton’s inner circle was planning for the formal launch of her presidential campaign and wanted to clear her schedule of paid speaking engagements and commitments to the foundation, particularly those that could cause political controversy. In January 2015, Abedin followed up with another email explaining in more detail why the future Democratic nominee couldn’t simply back out of the event in Morocco:
Just to give you some context, the condition upon which the Moroccans agreed to host the meeting was her participation. If hrc was not part if it, meeting was a non-starter. CGI also wasn't pushing for a meeting in Morocco and it wasn't their first choice. This was HRC's idea, our office approached the Moroccans and they 100 percent believe they are doing this at her request. The King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting. It will break a lot of china to back out now when we had so many opportunities to do it in the past few months.
And then, in what appears to be a rare venting of frustration by Abedin toward Hillary Clinton (at least in the thousands of hacked Podesta emails), she wrote this about her boss: “She created this mess and she knows it.”