More Clinton emails tickle funny bone and delight Republican rivals
America Letter: Latest crop of 3,800 emails released under court order
Hillary Clinton: One of the funnier emails shows her struggling to place a call to the White House, ranting to an aide about a telephone operator. Photograph: Charlie Mahoney/New York Times.
Another month, another release of Hillary Clinton emails. The latest batch of private emails sent to and from the Democratic presidential frontrunner during her time as Barack Obama’s first secretary of state reveal more entertaining day-in-the-life nuggets on Planet Hillary.
The most recent crop of more than 3,800 emails comes again under the direction of a court order in response to the controversy around Clinton’s use of a private email for official government business.
One of the funnier emails showed Clinton struggling to place a call to the White House, ranting to an aide about a telephone operator.
“I’m fighting w the WH operator who doesn’t believe I am who I say and wants my direct office line even tho I’m not there and I just have [sic] him my home # and the State Dept # and I told him I had no idea what my direct office # was since I didn’t call myself and I just hung up and am calling thru Ops like a proper and properly dependent Secretary of State – no independent dialling allowed,” she wrote.
In another email, she asks an aide: “What does ‘fubar’ mean?” (It means variously: “F**ked Up Beyond All Repair/Recognition.“)
The emails also reveal backroom manoeuvres behind a dispute concerning the International Fund for Ireland, set up under the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. It has supported projects in Ireland aimed at supporting peace with more than $500 million in US taxpayer funds.
Trina Vargo, whose US-Ireland Alliance has been sending American students to study at Irish universities since 2000 under the George J Mitchell Scholar programme, argued in 2010 that the IFI had “served its purpose” because violence had reduced in Northern Ireland and unemployment was lower there than in parts of the US.
As Republicans in Congress prepared to end contributions to the fund, Ms Vargo – a former member of senator Edward Kennedy’s staff – stepped in to seek $5 million annually over four years for her Mitchell endowment and lobbied Capitol Hill politicians accordingly.
Vargo, a long-time critic of Ireland’s cap-in-hand approach to America, maintained that it made sense to seek money for the Mitchell scholarship given that in 2008 and 2009 the chairman of the IFI Denis Rooney had indicated that the fund would not seek further US money.
The IFI reversed position in 2010 and has continued to receive US funds since then. Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan attended an event on Capitol Hill on Wednesday at which the fund and some of its beneficiaries spoke about the merits of IFI-backed projects.
In a Clinton email released this week, Irish American Democrats president Stella O’Leary, a US-appointed observer to the IFI and ally of Clinton’s, wrote to Hillary staffer Cheryl Mills in March 2011, raising concerns about the loss of public funding.
She emailed Mills again on April 1st, 2011 saying that the Republicans had “zeroed” funding for the IFI. “This was done at the prompting of [conservative radio talk-show host] Glenn Beck, Rep [Jason] Chaffetz [a Republican from Utah] and Trina Vargo,” she wrote.
She asked Mills to see if Hillary Clinton would call Republican congressman Pete King to urge him to restore funding to the IFI.
The Clinton camp appears to have previously taken a negative view of Vargo’s position. In an email released in the August 2015 batch of Hillary emails, Kris Balderston, another Clinton aide, told the secretary of state in an email in March 2010 of his concern about Vargo trying to redirect money from the IFI to the Mitchell programme. “She will not succeed,” he wrote.
The State Department decided in 2012, while Clinton was secretary, to cut its $485,000-a-year funding to the Mitchell programme.
Asked about the emails this week, O’Leary said it was “well known” that Vargo disagreed with funding for the IFI. “I saw it as my role to point out the importance of the IFI in sustaining peace in Northern Ireland, and that the vast majority of Irish-American political and community leaders supported the fund.”
Vargo said suggestions in 2010 and 2011 that she was trying to divert money from the IFI to the Mitchell programme were “false” since funding to the IFI was being eliminated at that time.
“The real question is why were a small group of people so adamant about pushing funds that weren’t requested on an organisation that said it was closing down, and why were these people so vehemently opposed to funding the George J Mitchell Scholarship programme.” she told The Irish Times.
Perhaps more Clinton emails released in future months will shed further light on the issue.