Hillary Clinton defends Clinton Foundation, says meetings were routine

By Eric DuVall  |  Aug. 25, 2016 at 10:45 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Hillary Clinton defended her time as secretary of state, saying she was not influenced by donors to the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton, speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, her first public statements after the Associated Press published an article Tuesday that said 85 of her 154 meetings with non-governmental individuals in her first two years as secretary of state were with people who had donated money to the Clinton Foundation. Those individuals gave a total of $156 million to the foundation during the four years she was secretary of state.

The revelation prompted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to call for a special prosecutor to investigate a "pay-to-play" scenario, where Clinton's work as secretary of state was contingent on those seeking her assistance first making a donation to the Clinton Foundation.

In the CNN Interview, the Democratic nominee pushed back against the allegations and said the AP's reporting unfairly focused on one small group of meetings, ignoring the thousands of other meetings she had while on the job.

"What Trump has said is ridiculous," Clinton said. "My work as secretary of state was not influenced by any outside forces. I made policy decisions based on what I thought was right."

Clinton said the meetings she had with top non-governmental individuals were of the sort any person in her position would have had.

"It draws a conclusion and makes a suggestion that my meetings with people like the late, great Elie Wiesel or Melinda Gates or the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus were somehow due to connections with the foundation instead of their status as highly respected global leaders," Clinton continued. "That is absurd. These are people I would be proud to meet with, as would any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights."

Cooper asked Clinton whether her husband, former President Bill Clinton, should have stepped down from the Clinton Foundation when she was secretary of state, as he has promised to do if she is president.

"Obviously, there will be some unique circumstances. ... No, no, look -- I know there is a lot of smoke and there is no fire."

Speaking in Atlanta before attending a fundraiser thrown by R&B singer Usher, the former president defended his foundation's work.

"We're trying to do good things. If there's something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don't know what it is," said Bill Clinton. "The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say, except I'm really proud of the work they've done."

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