A prominent Qatari official who wanted to get closer to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as an emissary, according to an e-mail released by the State Department Tuesday.
Qatar's donations to the Clinton Foundation are among those that have raised questions about the propriety of President Bill Clinton's non-profit accepting money from foreign entities while his wife remains active in politics and government.
The email, released Tuesday as part of a batch of Clinton's previously undisclosed messages, shows Qatar was trying every route possible to improve its relationship with the US. In it, Blair tells Clinton that Sheikha Moza, a member of the Qatari royalty — and one of the nation's most recognizable figures — wanted to get together with Clinton "women to women" and that their conversation would be "about the US/Qatar relationship generally." The subject line of the email: "Confidential."
Tony Blair's served as a "middleman for Qatar" in business negotiations, and Cherie Blair has been active in philanthropic work in the Middle Eastern nation.
Who cares if Qatari royalty wanted a meeting with Hillary Clinton?
The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the Clinton Foundation had dropped a self-imposed moratorium on taking contributions from foreign governments. Critics of the Clintons and their foundation have argued that accepting foreign contributions to the non-profit while Hillary Clinton seeks the presidency raises the possibility of conflicts of interest. That was enough of a concern that President Barack Obama's team made the Clinton Foundation agree to stop taking foreign money before Hillary Clinton became secretary of State in 2009.
The Clinton Foundation has taken between $1 million and $5 million directly from the Qatari government, and it accepted between $250,000 and $500,000 from a government-backed entity trying to secure the 2022 World Cup for Qatar.
Here's how the Washington Post reported on that last month.
The soccer-related donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation came into focus Wednesday as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch alleged deep rooted corruption at FIFA, the world's soccer governing organization. Also Wednesday, the Swiss announced a criminal investigation into Qatar's 2022 bid. The Clinton Foundation has no involvement with the investigations.
The Blair email demonstrates that Qatar took a more direct approach to trying to establish stronger ties with Hillary Clinton. It was part of the second tranche of Clinton's emails released by the State Department this year. A judge has ordered the release of 55,000 pages of emails to the public in monthly installments.