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Clinton friend advised on U.S. politics, foreign policy
September 1, 2015 / 5:23 AM / 2 years ago

Clinton friend advised on U.S. politics, foreign policy

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference after talking about her strategy for rural America during a campaign stop at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - An old friend of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton played an outsized role in advising her on U.S. politics and even her dealings with President Barack Obama’s White House despite holding no formal government position.

The State Department released emails on Monday that showed adviser Sid Blumenthal sent Clinton exhaustive memos on domestic issues, taking a more active role in advising her than was previously known.

He urged her to speak out against Tea Party conservatives and encouraged her to get the White House to “rein in” a key Obama aide who had upset him,

Her close links to Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, could rebound on the former first lady as she runs for the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.

She is under pressure for using a private email account instead of a government one when she served as America’s top diplomat from 2009-2013. Political opponents accuse her of sidestepping laws on transparency and record-keeping.

Under orders from a judge, the State Department released a new batch of 7,000 pages of Clinton emails from that period, casting some light on how she handled her job.

Blumenthal wrote frequently with forthright opinions both on foreign policy issues like the Middle East but also about U.S. politics as the 2010 midterm elections approached.

Sidney Blumenthal (L), a longtime Hillary Clinton friend who was an unofficial adviser while she was secretary of state, arrives to be deposed in private session of the House Select Committee on Benghazi at the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

He asked Clinton and her husband to take a public stance against Tea Party Republicans, who were poised to make electoral gains.

“Urgently, the momentum of the far right needs to be blunted; it must be redefined; the political discussion must be shaped and shifted,” he wrote.

In an email entitled “DefCon 2,” he warned Clinton that the Democrats could lose the race for the Senate seat in Massachusetts once held by the late Ted Kennedy.

Also in 2010, Blumenthal encouraged Clinton to have the White House “rein in” Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod, for straying too much into the foreign policy area.

“Axelrod has enough to do fixing the domestic messes he’s made,” Blumenthal wrote, telling Clinton which of her aides should speak to a senior White House staffer about the issue.

Republicans in Congress have sought to put a spotlight on former journalist Blumenthal’s influence over Clinton on Libya as it descended into chaos in 2011. In May, Clinton said his advice helped her avoid being “caught in the bubble” of official information.

The State Department said on Monday that about 150 more of Clinton’s work emails have recently been designated as containing classified information.

Clinton has said she sent no information via email that was classified at the time and received none marked that way.

Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson, Erin McPike, John Whitesides, Emily Stephenson and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Nick Macfie

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