A commentator on Wednesday suggested that the real solution to the “pay for play” scandal involving Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation would have been to shut down the non-profit in 2009, when she became secretary of state.
Now, with Clinton campaign staff on the defensive, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is forecasting it will end up being one of the biggest political scandals in America.
“I am more than willing to predict, when the history of our day is written, the scandal you are watching unfold is going to be like the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s and maybe bigger. It’s going to be bigger than Watergate,” he said at a campaign rally for GOP nominee Donald Trump in Tampa, Florida.
“Nixon had to leave office, and he did a lot of bad things, but it wasn’t raking in millions and millions of dollars through a phony charity,” he said. “I’m not sure how much money was involved in the Teapot Dome, but I bet it could not have been much more than the hundreds of millions of dollars the Clintons have been getting and turning the State Department into a pay-for-play operation.”
The Daily Caller reported Giuliani was “outraged” at the “numerous, numerous serious federal felonies” Clinton committed.
It was John Cassidy in the New Yorker who suggested the closure should have happened eight years ago.
“It’s getting hard to keep track of all the developments in the story of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton emails,” he wrote.
But he cited an opinion from the Boston Globe regarding the controversy.
“Even if they’ve done nothing illegal, the foundation will always look too much like a conflict of interest for comfort,” the paper said.
And the progressive Huffington Post ran a headline on its homepage that blared “JUST SHUT IT DOWN,” as WND reported.
“At this stage, many Democrats (including, I’d guess, some members of the Clinton campaign) just want the Clinton Foundation to go away. But that won’t happen. … A strong argument can be made that the Clinton Foundation should have been closed, or at least thoroughly overhauled, before Clinton became secretary of state, at the start of 2009. But to shut down the foundation now, when it is under severe attack, would only give credence to Trump’s claims that it was never more than a corrupt scheme to enrich its founders and their cronies,” he wrote.
In a commentary at Fox News, Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the U.S. House from 1995 to 1999, suggested correcting that error now.
He pointed out that’s not just his opinion, but also that of former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who also was the Democratic National Committee chief.
“I definitely think if she wins the presidency they have to disband it,” Rendell said.
Gingrich said the same sentiment is coming from the San Diego Union-Tribune, which said, “These special interests are not giving money because the foundation is such an effective charitable organization; a 2013 New York Times investigation made it seem chaotic. They are not paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to hear shopworn speeches because they expect to obtain profound insights. They want the Clintons’ help, and they’re willing to pay for it.”
Gingrich cited the “appearance of corruption, the obvious and inevitable conflicts of interests, and the unseemly arrangements” that have surrounded the foundation.
“The Clintons didn’t care. They repeatedly violated their ethics agreement with the Obama administration to disclose and seek approval for foreign donors and speech clients,” he said. “Now they are making similar promise to the American people in order to ease Hillary’s path to the presidency. But just as the Obama administration was foolish to take them at their word, so would be the American people today.”
The “only acceptable action,” he concluded, is for the foundation to be shut down “right now.”
Clinton late Wednesday called in to Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN, Real Clear Politics reported, to admit there was a controversy about the foundation.
This is how she put it:
“Look, Anderson, I know there is a lot of smoke and there is no fire. This AP report put in it context. This excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders. And countless other meetings with U.S. government officials when I was secretary of state. It looks at a small portion of my time.”
She cited meetings such as those with the late Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, Melinda Gates and Muhammad Yunus. The AP report said more than half of the non-governmental meetings she had during a time period in office were with those individuals who also had donated to the foundation.
She downplayed the idea that those meetings “were somehow due to connections with the foundation instead of their status as highly respected global leaders.”
“That is absurd,” she said. “These are people I would be proud to meet with, who any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights.”
And Clinton’s defenders were losing their cool.
On CNN, Paul Begala, a Democrat activist and senior adviser for Priorities USA Action, “flipped out,” according to the Free Beacon.
“This is the Associated Press report that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have now responded to that 85, Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, met with 85 major donors to the Clinton Foundation. They gave something like in total $156 million to the foundation. How is that not paying for access?” host Alisyn Camerota asked Begala.
“How is it?” Begala said.
“They paid money and they got to meet with the secretary of state,” Camerota said.
“And who were they and what did they get? This really infuriates me,” Begala said.
Begala repeatedly talked over Camerota in the interview.
He even made the claim that the Clinton Foundation “keeps millions of people alive.”
The London Daily Mail said Clinton’s campaign “went into spin mode Wednesday, calling the AP’s report an exercise in ‘cherry-picking.'”
“Chief strategist Joel Benenson said the Associated Press report was ‘cherry-picking’ Clinton’s long-hidden schedules from her time as secretary of state,” the report said. “Campaign manager Robby Mook used the exact same word to describe the blockbuster article that dominated Tuesday afternoon’s news cycle.”
Trump campaign policy director Stephen said in an email: “Secretary Clinton, you claim the AP report is an incomplete accounting of your meetings. Why don’t you clear up any problems with the AP report by releasing all of your schedules from while you were in charge of the State Department?”
“It is a total embarrassment if our secretary of state can be bought or bribed or sold.”
The International Business Times also presented some interesting points.
“In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Clinton Foundation ‘set up a financial commitment that benefited a for-profit company part-owned by people with ties to the Clintons.'”
The benefit was $812,000, but the Journal noted, “Under federal law, tax-exempt charitable organizations aren’t supposed to act in anyone’s private interest but instead in the public interest.”
And it reported in 2010, Clinton “pushed Russia to approve a $3.7 billion purchase from Boeing.”
“Two months after the deal was solidified, reported the [Washington Post], Boeing announced a $900,000 contribution to the Clinton Foundation.
“A 2015 analysis by Vox found that ‘at least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department when Hillary Clinton ran the place.’ IBT reported that Bill Clinton was paid more than $2.5 million by firms that were lobbying Hillary Clinton’s department.”
The report also has details on a coal deal involving Morocco, Algeria and Colombia.
The result, the IBT said, was a “new political firestorm.”
David Horsey at the Los Angeles Times wrote of the foundation and its donors, “No doubt good intentions were involved, but, at least for some donors, there was also an interest in getting access to a former president of the Untied States and a possible future president – and at least a secretary of state.”
He continued: “In politics donations buy access. Senators and members of Congress spend an obscene share of their days in office begging for campaign contributions and then many more hours hosting those contributors in private meetings. A secretary of state should be above that. Even though Clinton, herself, did not solicit donations, her husband did and, especially when the money came from foreign powers, that raises concerns both about ethics and foreign policy.
“Appearances are important, even if intentions are pure.”