On February 19, the State Department released another batch of emails from Hillary Clinton’s years as Secretary of State.
Among the documents released are emails showing that Clinton lobbied Congress in support of three U.S. trade agreements in October of 2011.
The emails show that Clinton personally contacted members of Congress, urging them to vote in favor of the Columbia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA), which was bitterly opposed by organized labor, in both the United States and Colombia, as well as human rights organizations around the world.
At the same time, Clinton also lobbied Congress in support of free trade agreements with Korea and Panama.
During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton publicly decried the trade agreements, calling the agreement with Korea “inherently unfair,” and saying “I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.”
But the newly published emails show that, as Secretary of State, Clinton phoned members of Congress, specifically asking them to vote in favor of the agreements.
On October 8, 2011, Clinton received the following email from her aide, Huma Abedin.
In response, Clinton stated that she had contacted members of Congress to urge them to support the trade agreements.
As Secretary of State, Clinton would have been bound to follow the directives of the president and support the policies of the Obama administration, regardless of personal beliefs regarding those policies.
However, as Secretary of State, she also played a very important role in developing and informing the White House on foreign policy issues, including trade agreements.
In order to better understand the role of the U.S. Secretary of State, according to state.gov, among other things, the person appointed to this position:
- Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
- Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
- Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
- Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
- Provides information to American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries;
- Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
- Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
While there could be a number of reasonable explanations as to why Secretary Clinton changed her positions regarding the trade agreements with Korea and Colombia, the newly released emails are likely to work against her, when it comes to garnering support from organized labor.
As reported by International Business Times here, Bill Clinton’s partnership with Canadian financier Frank Giustra, and a subsequent joint venture launched by Giustra and former President Clinton in Colombia, are likely to become major issues for the Clinton campaign in the coming months.
Clinton’s rival for the democratic party’s nomination, Bernie Sanders, voted against both the Columbia and Panama free trade agreements. The record shows that Senator Sanders did not vote on the trade agreement with Korea.
As voters weigh their options ahead of the 2016 election, Secretary Clinton is likely to face tough questions regarding her support for the Korean and Colombian trade agreements.
How she answers those questions will play a major role in whether or not she can win the support of organized labor.
Featured image credit from US Embassy Canada via Flickr