A new batch of U.S. State Department emails from Hillary Clinton's earliest days as secretary of state in 2009 shows close connections between the country's top diplomatic agency and the charitable Clinton Foundation that she founded with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton, now the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and leading in her race against Republican Donald Trump, has long denied that donors to the charity, which funds humanitarian programs across the globe, had special access and influence at the State Department during her tenure there from 2009 to 2013.
Previously undisclosed emails released Tuesday by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group and frequent Clinton antagonist, show exchanges of emails between her aides and officials at the foundation.
In one instance, an executive at the foundation, Doug Band, emailed two Clinton aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, asking for assistance connecting Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and top donor to the foundation, with someone at the State Department to discuss his interests in Lebanon.
"We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance person re Lebanon," Band wrote. "As you know, he's a key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp."
Abedin responded, "It's jeff feltman," referring to Jeffrey Feltman, who was the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon at the time. "I'm sure he knows him. I'll talk to jeff."
Band asked Abedin to call Chagoury immediately if possible. "This is very important," Band wrote.
In another email, Band lobbied the Clinton aides for a State Department job for someone else. Abedin told him, "Personnel has been sending him options."
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said, "No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress. They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law."
The Clinton campaign said the emails did not relate to her work at the foundation before she became secretary of state.
The newly released emails are separate from the thousands of work-related emails that Clinton turned over to the State Department after she left office.
Those emails became the subject of a long-running investigation over whether she mishandled classified information on the emails that ran through an unsecured private email server she used as secretary of state rather than a more secure government email server. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation recently concluded that she was "extremely careless" with the national security material, but that no criminal charges were warranted.