Clinton Foundation officials sought the approval of Hillary Clinton's State Department in July 2011 as they considered involving three Russian government officials in a foundation project.
The email emerged in a batch of Clinton-related documents provided to conservative-leaning Citizens United through the Freedom of Information Act and made public Saturday.
Amitabh Desai, a senior Clinton Foundation official, wrote to Clinton's State Department aides in July 2011 and forwarded them a Clinton Global Initiative employee's description of an upcoming project that "would involve members of the Russian government."
The proposed project included drafting a U.S. medical devices company, Becton Dickinson Co., to help the Russian Ministry of Health adhere to "best practices" in health worker safety.
Desai's request prompted Clinton aides to move their discussion of the Russian officials to the "high side," or the State Department system set up for the discussion of classified information.
Laura Hochla, a State Department foreign service officer, told other State Department aides she did not have any concerns about the potential partnership.
Gary Cohen — the Becton Dickinson executive who, in an earlier message on the chain, described his company's work with Russian officials — went on to be a speaker at a 2013 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Cohen appears to have to donated up to $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to the charity's donor records.
Desai frequently contacted Clinton's State Department staff throughout her tenure, emails made public by the State Department over the past year have shown.
While the exchange made public Saturday is routine on its face, its implications for Clinton's political campaign are two-fold.
First, Clinton has denied repeatedly that her State Department duties ever overlapped with the work of her family's foundation. The latest set of emails provides further evidence that State Department officials were often asked to set aside time for research and discussions related to the Clinton Foundation.
Second, the exchange indicates that, at least in 2011, Clinton's aides appeared willing to facilitate work with the Russian government. On the campaign trail, Clinton has upbraided Donald Trump for his perceived friendliess toward Russia and his associates' alleged ties to the Kremlin.