The media mogul and self-described "cartoon schlepper" -- he franchised the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series, merged it with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., and sold the whole thing to Walt Disney for $5.3 billion -- is a staunch supporter of Israel and one of the most prodigious fundraisers for the Democratic Party. Born in Egypt but raised in Israel, Saban has changed his views on the Jewish state over the years. Once farther to the political left, he told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000 proved that conservative politician Ariel Sharon, then the leader of the Israeli opposition, "was right and I was wrong." He said that he has since moved "very far to the right." Nonetheless, Saban, who donated $13 million to the Brookings Institution to found the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in 2002, has remained a steadfast supporter of the Democratic Party, personally donating thousands of dollars for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid and recently shelling out $1 million to super PACs supporting Obama.
When Leon Panetta became CIA director in 2009, he brought one person with him -- Jeremy Bash, as his chief of staff -- and Bash followed his boss when Panetta made the switch to the Pentagon in 2011. A lawyer by training, Bash was Al Gore's legal advisor during his 2000 presidential bid (a role immortalized by the made-for-TV movie Recount), where he became close friends with fellow Gore campaigners Philippe Reines and Andrew Shapiro, now both in top roles at the State Department, as well as Rajiv Shah, the current USAID administrator. Bash went on to be minority general counsel to the House intelligence committee and a close aide to its ranking Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman. He stays mostly out of the public discourse, but his access to the highest levels of intelligence and decision-making is undeniable (even if, according to critics, it has been problematic in at least one instance: Bash was named among the CIA officials who were said to have given special access, potentially to classified information, to Hollywood filmmakers producing a movie about the bin Laden raid).
As chair of the Appropriations subcommittee for State, foreign operations, and related programs, 37-year Senate veteran Patrick Leahy essentially controls the U.S. foreign aid budget. An outspoken congressional leader on human rights issues, he's the author of the 1997 "Leahy Law," which prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign militaries deemed responsible for human rights violations. Leahy has advocated suspending Egypt's military aid until the country fully commits to democracy and the rule of law, as well as cutting aid to Pakistan for its "Alice in Wonderland," hot-and-cold dealings with the United States. Clinton's State Department might have hoped that having Leahy chair the powerful subcommittee would keep the funds flowing, but the senator earlier this year told Clinton to expect "an allocation that is below the amount requested by the president." He argued in particular that fewer resources should be funneled to struggling U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, calling the State Departments $4.8 billion request for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad a "symbol of grandiose and unrealistic ambitions in that country."
Cheryl Mills is as close as it gets to the Clintons, known for "fiercely protecting their interests and keeping their secrets." After serving as Bill Clinton's deputy White House counsel during his 1999 impeachment trial, Mills was a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign. The former private-practice lawyer now serves as Secretary Clinton's right-hand woman in Foggy Bottom, where she oversees operations for the State Department's nearly 60,000 staff, in addition to leading State's outreach to earthquake-stricken Haiti and its "Feed the Future" initiative. Mills is so close to her boss, she's been known to clash with the White House to defend her -- not to mention that she was one of only a handful of State staffers invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding.