Ah, an influence peddling story from Hillary's term as SecState. That's something we'll see a lot more of as Election Year 2016 rolls on and the news media absorbs all those Clinton private server e-mails and correlates Hillary's official actions with those of the Clinton Foundation and its
The Wall Street Journal described how Speaking Fees Meet Politics For Clintons, noting that after HRC's confirmation as Secretary of State "more than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis ... Fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity, according to foundation disclosures."
Despite all that, "The Journal found no evidence that speaking fees were paid to the former president in exchange for any action by Mrs. Clinton, now the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination."
No evidence? That's a very odd statement, since the rest of the article is filled with detailed circumstantial evidence of exactly that kind of quid pro quo. The WSJ is confusing direct evidence with circumstantial evidence, which argues that a series of facts, by reason and experience, is so persuasive that accusations may be proved by inference alone. Courts convict defendants based on circumstantial evidence alone every day. What other kind of evidence would you expect to find of influence peddling, anyway?
Look at one particular pattern of facts the WSJ presented concerning the approval of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) passenger preclearance operation in Abu Dhabi. Preclearance in Abu Dhabi benefits the UAE's Etihad national airline because it will attract U.S.-bound customers who would otherwise have transited through a regional hub such as Dubai. It cannot benefit any U.S. airline because none operate out of Abu Dhabi. On the contrary, it takes customers away from U.S, airlines, which is why U.S. airline trade groups and unions opposed the operation and lobbied against it in Congress.
A Congressional Research Service report on international air service controversies has this summary of the opposition:
On a separate but related note, there has been debate over a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) preclearance facility that began operation in January 2014 at Abu Dhabi International Airport in the UAE. The presence of a preclearance facility makes an airport more attractive to U.S.-bound travelers, as they are not delayed by the need to pass through immigration and customs controls upon arrival in the United States. The Abu Dhabi facility was strongly opposed by some U.S. air carriers, labor unions, and Members of Congress because Etihad Airways, owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, is the only airline that operates nonstop flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States. Opponents were concerned that U.S. carriers, which rely on code-sharing partners to serve Abu Dhabi via connections in Europe, would be competitively disadvantaged because their passengers are not eligible for preclearance.
With all those reasons to oppose the preclearance operation, why was it nevertheless approved? Consider this pattern of facts the WSJ documented:
The State Department got involved in the Abu Dhabi matter after the capital of the United Arab Emirates asked for a facility to clear travelers for U.S. entry before they boarded planes so they could avoid delays when arriving in the U.S. Only five countries in the world at the time had such an arrangement: Canada, Ireland and three Caribbean countries.
-- snip --
While Mrs. Clinton’s State Department and the Department of Homeland Security were working out a “letter of intent” with Abu Dhabi for the facility, Mr. Clinton sought permission to give a paid speech in Abu Dhabi. The invitation came from the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative, a group created by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi, according to Mr. Clinton’s request to the State Department.
-- snip --
On Dec. 6, 2011, U.S. officials signed the letter of intent. One week later, Mr. Clinton gave a 20-minute talk on climate change to the Abu Dhabi government environmental gathering. He collected $500,000, his wife’s disclosure report shows.
In December 2012, Mr. Clinton sought approval for another speech in Abu Dhabi before the World Travel and Tourism Council, State Department emails show. The request said the speech was sponsored by three Abu Dhabi tourism agencies, all owned by the government. A conference sponsor was Etihad Airways, the chief beneficiary of the inspection facility, the group’s promotional materials said. An Etihad spokeswoman referred questions about the facility to the government of Abu Dhabi.
Mr. Clinton gave a keynote address on the value of tourism. He was paid $500,000, his wife’s disclosure filings say.
One week later, the U.S. and Abu Dhabi signed the final agreement for the facility. Etihad Airways operated its first flight from it last year.
Consider as well that the U.S. Federal government is sending a former Governor of Virginia to prison for accepting $15,000 and some gifts "with corrupt intent" even though it did not even allege he performed any official act in exchange, and even though the gifts were legal under Virginia state law.
Are the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys investigating the apparent corrupt intentions of Bill and Hillary Clinton, as they did those of the Republican former Governor of Virginia? That's just a rhetorical question, of course. But if they did, or if a future DOJ should do so, circumstantial evidence alone would be quite enough to convict them.