Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton gave her advice on issues ranging from British politics to Afghanistan and Iran while she was secretary of state even though he was not employed by the US government, according to emails released on Tuesday.

    The emails from 2009 show informal adviser Blumenthal, whose ties to the Clinton family date back to former President Bill Clinton's White House years, actively trying to shape the early months of Hillary Clinton's time as America's top diplomat.

    Clinton's close links to Blumenthal could rebound on her as she runs for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

    Republicans in Congress have sought to put a spotlight on his influence over Clinton on Libya as it descended into chaos in 2011. A former journalist, Blumenthal sent her lengthy memos about the north African country, many of them containing intelligence reports from a former Central Intelligence Agency officer.

    The emails released by the state department showed that the issues on which Blumenthal gave advice went far beyond Libya. He gave Clinton information on other sensitive issues as early as 2009.

    He seemed to be a middle-man between Clinton and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Northern Ireland peace process, according to an email he sent on June 14 that year.

    "Gordon Brown called me today to convey his very best to you," Blumenthal wrote to Clinton. He mentioned her possible involvement in a meeting between Brown, Irish Republican leader Martin McGuinness and a man named Shaun, who appears to be Britain's former Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward.

    "I said that he and Gordon should let me know before Wednesday whether your involvement is essential and what they request. That is fine with them and Shaun will get back to me," Blumenthal wrote.

    Controversy over Clinton's emails has dogged the start of her campaign for the White House in November, 2016 after she acknowledged using a personal email account rather than a government one for State Department business.

    The emails released on Tuesday are among some 30,000 work emails that she handed over to the State Department in December that a judge has ordered to be released in batches.

    Blumenthal was barred from a job at the state department by aides to President Barack Obama because of lingering distrust over his role advising Clinton's run against Obama in the acrimonious 2008 Democratic primary, according to The New York Times.

    Blunt advice

    But in July 2009, he gave the former first lady blunt instructions ahead of a speech she gave at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in Washington.

    "For most policy speeches a generic tone and workmanlike prose are acceptable. But for this one it's not. This speech can't afford to be lackluster," he said in an email, offering her a possible draft copy of the speech.

    On June 23, Blumenthal emailed Clinton around 10pm with the subject line, "Hillary: if you're up, give me a call. Sid." In the preceding days, he had sent her detailed memos on Iran's 2009 election crisis with media clips.

    Later that year, Blumenthal wrote to Clinton that delay in announcing a strategy for US forces in Afghanistan was putting serious strains on Washington's relations with close ally Britain.

    "Consensus across the board in Britain - center, right, left- is that the Atlantic alliance - the special relationship -the historic bond since World War II - is shattered," he wrote.

Goldman stands by Modi report as minister fumes

  • Agencies, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Nov 09, 2013 02:20 IST

Commerce minister Anand Sharma accused global investment bank Goldman Sachs of interfering in the country's domestic politics after it raised market ratings citing "optimism over political change".

In an interview to The Economic Times, Sharma accused Goldman Sachs of "messing around with India's domestic politics." Sharma said that banks like Goldman Sachs should remain focused only on doing what they claim to specialise in.

Sharma said Goldman's latest report where it suggested the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could topple his ruling Congress party in 2014 polls "made Goldman's credibility and motives highly suspect".

Sharma said Indians alone would "decide the future of Indian politics" and "will not be influenced by the motivated campaign by agencies like Goldman, which have, in any case, left behind a graveyard of their failed predictions".

Reacting to the criticism over upgrading the Indian equities, Goldman said it stood by its report based on investor sentiments and that it did not have any political bias.

Earlier in the week, the global bank in a report titled "Modi-flying our view", hiked its rating for Indian markets to "market weight" from "underweight".

The Goldman Sachs' note did not endorse the BJP but cited "optimism over political change, led by the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Mr Modi."

Stressing that the report would have no impact on the general elections due early next year, Sharma said, "People have wisdom and maturity. These reports could also be coloured, influenced and these are most inappropriate and objectionable."

"We don't need these kinds of daily certification or assurances. We are a self confident nation... what I feel is that any agency (or) organisation should be focused on their job particularly when it comes to functional democracies...we surely would not be entertaining prescriptive approaches or prescriptions from those who are totally disconnected," the minister added.

In a statement issued after uproar over its report, the bank said, "Our Asia Pacific Portfolio Strategy report... contains no political bias or any political opinion by Goldman Sachs or its analysts. It simply notes that investor sentiment is being influenced by party politics. We stand by that assertion and by our research."

More on LiveMint: Goldman Sachs analyst: Not expressing any preference for India elections


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