Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Republican National Committee reveal how senior Clinton Foundation staffers coordinated with top Hillary Clinton State Department officials to give special treatment to people identified as “FOB” (friends of Bill Clinton) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs) in the wake of the deadly 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
“Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC,” wrote then-senior State Department official Caitlin Klevorick. Concerned about the difficulties of coordinating incoming requests from people attempting to assist with relief efforts that were being given to the State Department by the Clinton Foundation, Klevorick said, “Most I can probably ID but not all.”
In many of the newly-released exchanges, obtained by ABC News, Klevorick often wrote to Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s director of foreign policy.
Further filtering offers from Clinton friends, Klevorick wrote, “Is this a FOB!” in response to a Clinton Foundation aide who had forwarded a woman’s request to send medical supplies. “If not, she should go to cidi.org,” Klevorick wrote, advising that the woman, presumed not a Clinton friend, to go through a government website.
Indeed, nearly a month after the relief efforts in Haiti were underway, they had been described in one diplomatic cable as a “gold rush” and a big opportunity for government contractors and aid groups.
Hillary Clinton has spent the last 17 months dismissing allegations of pay to play corruption while she was Secretary of State, allegations first reported by Clinton Cash author and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer, calling them “distractions and attacks.”
However, the new emails provide further contradictions to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s repeated claims that the Democratic nominee did not give special access and grant favors for Clinton allies and Clinton Foundation donors.
“I think when you look at both the State Department and the Clinton Foundation in Haiti, that line was pretty faint between the two,” Jake Johnston, a Haiti research analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research told ABC News. “You had a lot of coordination and connection between the two, obviously. And I think that raises significant questions about how they were both operating.”
Klevorick denies showing favoritism to friends of the Clintons during the Haiti recovery efforts.
“Everyone’s priority was to get the necessary resources to the right places as soon as possible to save lives,” she said, according to ABC.
“No special treatment was expected or given,” Bruce Lindsey, the chairman of the board of the Clinton Foundation told ABC News.
Still, the newly-released email exchanges paint a very different picture.
In the frantic first few days of the calamitous earthquake, Desai wrote an email with the subject line “Close friend of Clintons,” saying “This WJC VIP just called again from Jamaica to say Digicel is being pushed by US Army to get comms back up but is not being cleared by [the U.S. government] to deploy into Haiti to do so.”
The correspondence was in reference to billionaire Denis O’Brien, a major Clinton Foundation donor and the CEO of the Haitian telecom firm Digital, and his efforts to fly employees of his company out of the devastated Caribbean island.
In an attempt to push his request through faster, a frustrated O’Brien wrote an email to former top aide to Bill Clinton, Doug Band. “We’re finding it impossible to get landing slots,” he says. “I’m sorry to bother you but I am not making any progress through conventional channels.”
Band, who helped create the Clinton Global Initiative, then writes to Desai asking him to “pls get on this.”
Band also reassures O’Brien, “Never a bother.”
Desai then reached out to Klevorick in assisting with helping “a friend of President Clinton,” and O’Brien’s request is eventually brought before top USAID officials who were organizing the relief effort.
Unapologetic, O’Brian told ABC News that he doesn’t “see any problem contacting anybody in the United States if I’m bringing in emergency aid where people are dying on the street because of lack of medical attention.”
“I make no apologies for that,” he added.
ABC News also reports on another request for a Haiti relief contract made by a longtime Clinton ally:
Desai forwarded a note to Klevorick from Garry Mauro, who served twice as the Texas state chairman for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and has donated $25,000 to $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation. The offer was for “major assets in Haiti” from a company called DRC Emergency Services. On its website, the company boasts of having performed emergency response work at disasters around the globe, with over $2 billion in disaster response contracts. Desai noted that Mauro was “a friend of WJC.”
Klevorick replied, “also note hrc friend,” using initials for Hillary Rodham Clinton. The email chain does not indicate if Mauro’s recommendation led to a contract for DRC, though the company’s website states, “Within 24 hours of the earthquake’s occurrence, DRC assembled and mobilized a team of highly experienced and dedicated personnel to Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas.”
Mauro told ABC News he approached the Clinton Foundation on behalf of DRC after seeing on television that former Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush were raising money for the disaster. DRC had already been doing temporary housing work in Haiti, and company officials thought the earthquake would open the door to a major business expansion.
“They wanted to get some of the business,” he said of DRC. “The Clinton Foundation was a facilitator. They didn’t have the money.”
Mauro said he flew to New York and attended a meeting run by Bill Clinton at his Clinton Foundation offices, where contractors and aid groups with Haiti experience described their capabilities. Mauro said he was not aware that foundation officials sent emails to the State Department about his client, and he did not know if the company ultimately received a contract.
An official with DRC said the company’s Haiti relief work was overseen by supervisors who were no longer with the company, and he did not know which entity paid for the contract.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, at least one Clinton family member saw an opportunity to cash in on the multi-billion dollar recovery effort.
Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, landed a lucrative and historically rare Haitian “gold exploitation permit” allowing him to siphon massive profits from one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
“I deal through the Clinton Foundation,” Tony Rodham said according to a transcript of his testimony during court proceedings, obtained by The New York Times. “That gets me in touch with the Haitian officials. I hound my brother-in-law [Bill Clinton], because it’s his fund that we’re going to get our money from. And he can’t do it until the Haitian government does it.”
The new email exchanges come nearly a week to the day after President Bill Clinton took to Twitter and urged his six million-plus followers to go to the embattled Clinton Foundation to assist in relief efforts for Haiti in the wake of the devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew.
“Praying for everyone impacted by #HurricaneMatthew. Here’s how you can help in Haiti,” Clinton said in his tweet, which linked to a Medium article, entitled, “Members of the Clinton Foundation Community Respond to Hurricane Matthew; Ways to Support.”
Haitians have spent years protesting Bill and Hillary Clinton, with one protester saying, “The world should know about the crimes the Clinton family has committed against the country of Haiti–the money they have stolen from the earthquake victims. And we believe that were this to be anyone else, they’d be in jail right now.”