While she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton sought to arrange Pentagon and State Department consulting contracts for a friend of her daughter Chelsea, according to documents found in Clinton emails made public by the State Department.
In 2009, she arranged meetings between Jacqueline Newmyer Deal, head of defense consultants Long Term Strategy Group, and Pentagon officials. The former secretary of state also tried to help Deal gain a consulting contract with the State Department's director of policy planning, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Chelsea Clinton, the vice chair of The Clinton Foundation, has called Deal her best friend. Cronyism, using senior positions to help family or friends, is not illegal, but in this case, it appears federal ethics rules could have been violated, creating apparent conflicts of interest, the Free Beacon reported.
The Code of Federal Ethics says government employees "shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual." Pentagon ethics guidelines call for avoiding actions that might seem like conflicts of interest.
The email exchanges with Deal between 2009 and 2011 were among thousands of private emails made public by the State Department under pressure from Congress and the public interest law firm Judicial Watch.
Hillary Clinton and her aides discussed classified information on an unsecure private email server while she was secretary of state, an FBI investigation concluded in July. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in July that Mrs. Clinton would not be charged.
According to one 2009 email, Clinton said she recommended Deal to Michele Flournoy, the then-new undersecretary of defense for policy, who was seeking young women to mentor. Deal, a specialist in China affairs who was a press aide for Clinton when she was first lady, wrote back to confirm a meeting and told Clinton, "Thank you very much for making this happen."
Later that month, Deal thanked Clinton for "all your encouragement and help with DoD," an abbreviation for the Department of Defense.
The Long Term Strategy Group, set up in 2007 and now based in Washington, D.C., produces reports and holds workshops for the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment from the early 2000s to as recently as July 2016. The small think tank reports to director Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Estimates of the total value of the group's contracts since 2009 are around $6 million.
Emails showed the State Department's director of policy planning, Anne-Marie Slaughter, turned down a proposal by Deal. Through a spokesman, Slaughter told the Free Beacon she had no recollection of discussions with Deal, but said she has met with hundreds of young women regarding careers in the national security field.
"I have and will continue to work with young men and women, including those recommended to me by people whose opinion and judgment I respect, such as Secretary Clinton," Slaughter said.
She said whether anyone went on to get contracts with other government entities was "outside my purview."
The Office of Net Assessment called the Long Term Strategy Group a "responsive vendor" and said the group "competes for proposed work in the same fashion as any potential contractor, which requires a rigorous, formalized process, including built-in external review by acquisition professionals within the Department of Defense to ensure strict compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and ethics," the office said in a statement to the Free Beacon.
Advocates of good government said the situation appears to violate ethics rules.
Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center said, "By now there is a strong pattern of Hillary Clinton showing bias in the dispensing of government funds and favors to a long list of friends, political supporters, and Clinton Foundation donors. It looks like she was single-handedly trying to revive the corrupt spoils system. As the old saying goes, sometimes things are what they look like."
Former Pentagon inspector general Joseph E. Schmitz said he would want to investigate the issue further.
"I would definitely want to shed some light on the underlying facts" surrounding Clinton helping Deal, Schmitz said.
Pentagon-sponsored reports by the Long Term Strategy Group included, "On the Nature of Americans as a Warlike People," which argued, "the United States will continue to use war as an instrument of state policy." Another was "War and the Intellectuals," which stated educated Americans are against war compared to 'the rest of America."
Other reports and workshops by the Long Term Strategy Group concerned strategies for the Middle East, U.S. extended deterrence to American allies, Egyptian security concerns, Soviet-era radio electronic warfare doctrine, Russian nuclear developments, and Israeli relations with a nuclear-armed Iran.
The Office of Net Assessment has been criticized in Congress by officials who say the office is not doing an acceptable job of assessing important threats to the U.S., according to The Washington Times.
The Clinton emails provide a look into how Clinton sought to help her daughter's friend navigate the Pentagon. Clinton and Deal exchanged further emails for two years. Their final exchange happened in May 2011. Deal thanked the secretary of state for attending her wedding April 29, one day before the commando raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Clinton replied she stayed as long as she could, but "the Bin Laden op the next day consumed most of my mental space!"
Deal displayed her political views in one email about the role the U.S. should play in the Middle East after the Arab Spring uprisings. Deal said there was no viable U.S. strategy that was not a "clumsy neocon democracy installation effort," apparently referencing the George W. Bush administration's Middle East operations.
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