Back in 2009, Hillary Clinton and one of her aides had a snarky email exchange mocking a U.S. senator.
Now that the exchange is public, the target of their vitriol isn’t amused—and feels deeply betrayed.
The exchange between Clinton and Richard Verma—then Clinton’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs—came late in the evening on Dec. 16, 2009 when Verma forwarded Clinton an email from a staffer for then-Senator George LeMieux.
In the email, the staffer informed Verma that LeMieux would no longer block the Senate from confirming an ambassador nominee.
“What took them so long? Did you promise your first born?” Clinton wrote.
“Yes, I sold my soul to George Lemieux today,” Verma replied. “I am not proud of it.”
“Does this mean you have to go to Cuba and arrest Castro or just shovel more $ into Little Havana?” Clinton wrote.
“I suspect they would prefer more $ for Little Havana,” he replied.
LeMieux, a Republican, told The Daily Beast that he was astonished by what Clinton said about him behind his back.
“It’s unprofessional, and it’s amazing to me that the Secretary of State of the United States of America would put that kind of comment in writing in an official document,” he said.
He found her joke about removing the Castros from power particularly crass.
“You expect more from someone in a position as important as Secretary of State,” he said.
Adding more insult to injury, LeMieux said neither Clinton nor her staff ever delivered on the promises they made to secure LeMieux’s support.
Here’s the backstory:
In November of 2009, the White House was working overtime to get the Senate to confirm Tom Shannon—then the assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere—as ambassador to Brazil. It just takes one senator to block these confirmations, and LeMieux, of Florida, decided to do so.
He told The Daily Beast that he held up Shannon’s confirmation for two main reasons: first, because he felt the Obama administration and the State Department hadn’t come down on the right side of a military coup in Honduras, and second, because the Obama administration wasn’t doing enough to support human-rights activists in Cuba.
“The Obama Administration and the Clinton State Department were basically on the wrong side,” he said, referring to the military coup that resulted in the removal of the Honduran president.
“The American government was not standing on the side of the Democratic leader, and was silent at best, and was supportive of the military regime at worst, and was completely opposite pro-Democracy countries in the hemisphere,” he said. “Shannon was basically the person on point for that. That gave me a lot of concern.”
“It had nothing to do with money for Little Havana, as the Secretary joked,” he added.
The State Department wanted to get Shannon confirmed, and that meant they had to get the Florida senator to change his heart. No simple task. LeMieux said he and his aides spoke with State Department staff about their concerns regarding Shannon’s confirmation, and that he also discussed the issue with Clinton over the phone.
“I explained to her what my concerns were, and she was responsive to me and very professional in our conversation,” he said. “It gave me some satisfaction.”
He said he told Clinton and her staff that he would let Shannon get confirmed if the State Department committed to championing democratic values in Latin America.
“She made a commitment to me that she would do that, and that Latin America was going to be a focus of her time as Secretary of State,” he said.
Did she fulfill that commitment?
“I don’t think so,” LeMieux said. “I don’t think that this administration has done near enough. Their big Latin American policy is to open up an embassy in Cuba, and recognize the Cuban regime, which to me is not an accomplishment. It’s a step backwards.”
He added that Shannon’s recent meeting in Haiti with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is also a violation of that commitment.
“Look at the problems in Argentina, look at the problems in Venezuela,” he said. “Democracy is not on the rise in Latin America. Democracy is threatened and challenged, and the United States—like it’s done throughout the rest of the world under this administration—has a live-and-let-live attitude instead of being a leader for democracy and democratic values.”
Clinton’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on LeMieux’s assessment of her emails and on whether she feels she kept her promise to him regarding support for democracy in Latin America.