WASHINGTON — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul plans to attack Hillary Clinton in a speech Friday night for the donations that Saudi Arabia has given to the Clinton Foundation. But Paul has a factor on his side that could complicate that line of attack: former Senator Norm Coleman, who lobbies for the Saudis, sits on his Senate re-election leadership team.
In an interview, Coleman said he advises Paul from time to time on Middle East issues. Paul "comes to me for advice, for counsel," Coleman said. "I appreciate a lot of the positions that he stands for," he said, citing Paul's outreach to young people and the African-American community, as well as on privacy issues.
Coleman did not say he's supporting Paul's presidential run, however.
"I don't talk to him that often but on Middle East issues he may call or Doug [Stafford, Paul's key political advisor] may call," Coleman said. "I'm sure I'm not the only one he reaches out to."
Rand Paul was reported to have been "courting" Coleman last summer, as part of an outreach push to Jewish Republicans.
Coleman confirmed that his work for the Saudis as a member of the firm Hogan Lovells, which was made public last September, is ongoing.
Stafford said that Coleman is a "friend and supporter" and that he sits on Paul's Senate re-election campaign leadership team.
"Speaking of thinly veiled, it is hard to see this as anything other than a futile attempt by her friends in the media to distract from Hillary Clinton's problems," Stafford said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "It won't work. These two items aren't even remotely analogous."
Paul plans to attack Hillary Clinton for the donations the Saudi government has given to the Clinton Foundation during a speech in New Hampshire on Friday. He told Politico on Friday that the donations from foreign governments are "thinly veiled bribes."
"In countries that stone people to death for adultery and imprison people for adultery, this is the kind of thing you would think someone for women's rights would be standing up against, instead of accepting thinly veiled bribes," he said.
Paul also called for the Foundation to return the donations, as well as returning those of the United Arab Emirates and Brunei.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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