While serving as Hillary Clinton's chief of staff in the State Department, Cheryl Mills reportedly traveled secretly to New York to interview two candidates for the leadership role at the Clinton Foundation.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been trying to get information about Mills' June 2012 trip, but were stonewalled for seven months. The State Department had reportedly refused to divulge the purpose of the former staffer's trip. On Thursday, a CNN report shed some light on the clandestine trip.
From network reporter Drew Griffin:
On June 19, 2012, Cheryl Mills, then the chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, boarded an Amtrak Acela train in Washington’s Union Station bound for New York. What she did, who she met with — and why — has remained a mystery, even to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, until now. For the last seven months, Senate investigators have been trying to find out what Mills was up to and for seven months the U.S. Department of State has refused to answer.
According to the report, Mills, who at the time was an employee of the U.S. government, was in New York doing work for the Clinton Foundation. An unnamed source told CNN that Mills went on the trip to hold interviews with "top level executives" at Walmart and Pfizer, companies that have donated millions to the Clinton Foundation and are partners with the Clinton Global Initiative.
The revelation about Mills' trip raises questions about a potential conflict of interest. How was she able to conduct work for the Clinton Foundation while being a federal government employee working for Clinton? According to Mills' attorney, the former chief of staff paid her own way.
"Cheryl volunteered her personal time to a charitable organization, as she has to other charities," Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN.
The State Department gave this vague statement on agency ethics: "Federal employees are permitted to engage in outside personal activities within the scope of the federal ethics rules. All federal employees are subject to federal ethics laws and regulations including rules pertaining to conflicts of interest."
Scott Amey, who works for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, insisted Congress and and the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee have a right to know what Mills was doing when she was in New York in 2012.
"Congress has a right to ask for any information that it wants to from the executive branch of government to keep track of them, and the government should be turning that information over," he said, "and when you have a break down in that system, we have a break down in our democracy."
Mills was previously on the Clinton Foundation board, but stepped down in order to take the job in Clinton's State Department. She has since rejoined the board of the organization. She has known the Clintons for years. In fact, her relationship with the political family goes back to the 1990s.
She defended former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings and later served as a top legal advisor to Hillary Clinton when she ran for president in 2008.
Fallon ultimately called the assertion that this latest development proves a conflict of interest on the part of Clinton "absurd."
The new information about Mills' involvement with the Clinton Foundation while working for the government comes on the heels of a new set of Clinton emails seemingly showing a tangled relationship between the charitable organization and the State Department.
Watch the report below:
Follow the author of this story on Twitter: