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Emails show Clinton denied, then met with Ukrainian donor

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Victor Pinchuk gave up to $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Emails made public Tuesday show a Ukrainian businessman and major Clinton Foundation donor was invited to Hillary Clinton's home during the final year of her diplomatic tenure, despite her spokesman's insistence in 2014 that the donor never crossed paths with Clinton while she served as secretary of state.

Victor Pinchuk, who has given up to $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, appeared on the guest list that was sent between Dennis Cheng, an executive at the foundation, and Huma Abedin, then Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department, ahead of a June 2012 dinner. Abedin noted in a subsequent email that the gathering would be hosted in Clinton's home.

Amid scrutiny of Clinton's ties to Pinchuk in 2014, the Democratic nominee's spokesman, Nick Merrill, said Pinchuk had never met with Clinton during that time. He told the New York Times that, "from Jan. 21, 2009, to Feb. 1, 2013," the Ukrainian businessman "was never on her schedule."

Merrill did not return a request for comment.

The dinner invitation was exposed in a batch of emails obtained by Citizens United through the Freedom of Information Act that was made public Tuesday. The conservative group is seeking communications between a handful of Clinton's closest aides and individuals associated with the Clinton Foundation.

Other emails released through the State Department from the collection provided by Clinton shed light on the friendly relationship Pinchuk enjoyed with Clinton's State Department.

For example, in one exchange from January 2012, Clinton discussed with an agency official her daughter's recent trip to Ukraine. The official noted that Chelsea Clinton and her husband had been invited to visit Kiev by Pinchuk.

Melanne Verveer, a senior Ukrainian-American official at the State Department, often acted as a go-between for Clinton and Pinchuk. Verveer conveyed Pinchuk's best wishes to the secretary of state in Feb. 2010 after meeting with him in Ukraine.

After speaking with Pinchuk in Sept. 2011, Verveer informed Clinton that the businessman had been asked by Viktor Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine, to relay to her some of his diplomatic interests in deepening ties to the rest of Europe.

The intersection of Pinchuk's advocacy for Yanukovych with Clinton's State Department is noteworthy because Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, was felled by his connections to Yanukovych. Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign last week.

Douglas Schoen, the Democratic pollster, lobbied for Pinchuk after connecting the Ukrainian mogul with the Clinton Foundation. Schoen told the Wall Street Journal last year that he connected Pinchuk with senior State Department staffers under Clinton in order to pressure Yanukovych to release his political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, from jail.

Pinchuk, like Manafort, had urged the pro-Russian Yanukovych to pursue integration with the European Union. And like Manafort, Pinchuk had objected to the imprisonment of Tymoshenko.

Manafort, however, is reportedly part of an FBI investigation over his involvement in alleged corruption within Yanukovych's regime before the Ukrainian leader fled to Russia in 2014 amid a popular uprising.

Pinchuk's company, a manufacturing firm called InterPipe, came under fire last year after it was accused of shipping oil to Iran in violation of international sanctions in 2012.

Pinchuk's access to Clinton is yet another example of a foundation donor who may have found favor with her State Department team.

Two separate batches of emails — the 378 pages made public by Citizens United Tuesday and the 725 pages released by Judicial Watch Monday — contained dozens of examples of Clinton Foundation employees or donors who enjoyed direct lines to the highest levels of the State Department.

Many of those figures maintain their close ties to Clinton today.

For instance, the Democratic nominee attended a fundraiser Monday with a wealthy foundation donor, Casey Wasserman, who sought help securing a visa for client from Clinton's staff in 2009.

Clinton has faced growing calls to end her family's association with the foundation before Election Day despite her husband's pledge to curb foreign and corporate donations to the charity should Clinton win the presidency in November.