New emails show Clinton Foundation staff pushed Hillary Clinton's State Department to approve a meeting between Bill Clinton and a powerful Russian oligarch as her agency lined up investors for a project under his purview.
The Clintons' relationship with Viktor Vekselberg, the billionaire whose name appears in the documents, has taken on new significance amid an expanding criminal investigation into his company. Last week, authorities raided the offices of Vekselberg's firm, Renova Group, following allegations of bribery from several of Renova's subsidiaries.
Vekselberg's Renova Group has donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, donor records show. Another firm associated with Vekselberg, OC Oerlikon, donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Renova's interests in mining, oil and telecommunications have helped Vekselberg become one of Russia's wealthiest individuals and an influential figure within the Kremlin.
In April of that year, Bill Clinton's staff had submitted to the State Department ethics office a request for the former president to deliver a paid speech in Moscow on June 28, 2010, an engagement that necessitated the trip to Russia that Desai described.
Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank, paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for that speech, according to his wife's financial disclosures from 2010. The State Department had given its approval for the trip just two days after Bill Clinton's office filed its request.
The former president's travel to Russia for the speech and potential meetings with Vekselberg and others came as Hillary Clinton's State Department labored to drum up interest in a technology-sharing project, led by Vekselberg, called Skolkovo.
The new emails come as Hillary Clinton struggles to reconcile her claim that the Clinton Foundation posed no conflicts of interest for her family while she served as secretary of state with her pledge to eliminate foreign and corporate donations to the charity if she wins the presidency.
The Democratic nominee has ratcheted up her rhetoric against Russia in recent weeks, accusing her opponent of displaying dangerous affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin.