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A new batch of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails released Friday presented a glimpse into the breadth of her personal network — a Rolodex of powerful celebrities, CEOs, political advisers and politicians that she’s now tapping for her presidential campaign.
A political celebrity long before she became secretary of state in 2009, Clinton and her team balanced requests from a long list of boldface names. Lady Gaga complimented her, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised her for doing the “Lord’s work,” Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi asked for technology help, and former President Jimmy Carter pitched in on negotiations with North Korea.
While Clinton’s private email address was unknown to much of official Washington, at least one Hollywood celebrity wrote to her there. Actor Ben Affleck, a longtime Clinton supporter, urged her in April 2012 to review a draft of a report about security problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Hours later, Clinton emailed an aide: “I’d like to respond to Ben Affleck.” A day later, she reminded an aide that she still was waiting for the aide to draft a reply: “I haven’t yet received a draft and would like to respond today.”
The response to Affleck was censored in the email released Friday by the State Department because it was a draft version.
In a December 2011 note, civil-rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson reached out to Clinton’s staff with a request to talk to her before his visit to South Africa, asking how best to “represent her/Admin thinking on any issues/opportunities that might arise.” He was quickly added to her call list.
On Friday, hours before the email release, Jackson touted Clinton’s candidacy before a meeting of black pastors in Atlanta, saying: “It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary Clinton time.”
Clinton has faced questions about whether her unusual email setup, which involved a private server located at her New York home, was sufficient to ensure the security of government information and retention of records.
At least two Senate committees still are investigating Clinton’s email arrangement and are seeking the release of correspondence from her top aides. The FBI also is investigating the security of Clinton’s private email setup.
Yet Clinton’s place in preference polls has improved since the first Democratic primary debate, in which her chief primary rival, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, defused the issue, saying, “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
Roughly half of Clinton’s 30,000 work-related emails are now public, and the State Department’s effort to release the rest will linger into next year. Most of the correspondence made public to date involves the mundane workings of government — scheduling meetings, organizing secure phone lines and booking flights.
A few of the emails hint at the ways Clinton maintained her network of campaign donors, even while serving in a position at a distance from electoral politics. In a June 2011 message, an aide informed Clinton that longtime donor Susie Buell contributed $200,000 toward a summit at which Clinton was scheduled to speak.
“She wants it to be wonderful for you,” wrote Clinton aide Melanne Verveer.
In April 2011, Clinton’s aides received a request from Jose Villarreal, a former Clinton campaign adviser from Texas, to speak at the launch of a project she asked him to start involving U.S. engagement with Mexico. Clinton told her aides to develop a press and social media outreach “to every possible group.” Villarreal now serves as her campaign’s treasurer.
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