Politics August 24, 2016: Did Hillary abuse her power by meeting with Clinton Foundation donors?

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POLITICS

Did Hillary abuse her power by meeting with Clinton Foundation donors?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton scandals at the State Department keep growing, but will voters take the warning? A new report by the Associated Press published on Monday, Aug. 23, 2016, shows that outside of government people over half the people former Secretary of State Clinton met with during her tenure were donors or associated with donors to her husband former President Bill Clinton’s foundation.

According to the AP, Clinton tittered on the boundary, ethically violating her role at the State Department but not the legal agreement she made before commencing her post. Donations to the foundation were the ticket to a meeting with Clinton or possible favors from the State Departments. Donors received unprecedented access to the Secretary of State.

The AP discovered that based on the State Department released calendars that of the 154 private people Clinton met with during her tenure, 85 donated to the foundation or pledged donations for “international programs.” The 85 donors contributed a total of $156 million, of those donors 40 donated $100,000 each while 20 each gave over a million dollars each. The donors who met with Clinton each had a request for help from the State Department.

The AP notes, “The frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.”

The AP’s report was hardly complete; it only covered Clinton’s first two years as Secretary of State did not cover government officials and foreign governments. They based their findings on calendars and contacts that the State Department was forced to hand over to the AP. Although the AP added that 16 foreign governments met with Clinton that also donated a total of $170 million to the foundation. Completeness was not the aim; the point was to indicate the unprecedented access private citizens had to Secretary Clinton, as long they paid admission for the golden ticket a donation to the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton’s campaign used the report incompleteness as a means to discredit its very damaging findings calling it “utterly flawed data.”Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement, “It is outrageous to misrepresent Secretary Clinton’s basis for meeting with these individuals.” Fallon also said the report “cherry-picked a limited subset of Secretary’s Clinton’s schedule to give a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation.” Fallon also said it “omits more than 1700 meetings she took with world leaders, let alone countless others she took with other US government officials while serving as secretary of state.”

The State Department is also backing their former secretary; spokesman Mark Toner downplayed the report. Toner pointed out, “Individuals, including those who have donated to political campaigns, non-profits, or foundations — including the Clinton Foundation — may contact or have meetings with officials in the administration.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump is seizing on the reports to turn the attacks and attention towards Clinton’s ongoing scandals. First Trump issued a statement, which read, “It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. We’ve now learned that a majority of the non-government people she met with as secretary of state gave money to the corrupt Clinton Foundation. … It was wrong then, and it is wrong now — and the foundation must be shut down immediately.”

At a Tuesday evening, rally in Austin, Texas Trump again assailed the foundation, saying, “Hillary Clinton is totally unfit to hold public office. It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office.” Continuing Trump accused, “The specific crimes committed to carry out that enterprise are too numerous to cover in this speech.”

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, backed the GOP nominee up, repeating his call for an independent prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s actions at the State Department. Pence in a statement wrote, “The fact Hillary Clinton’s official schedule was full of meetings with Clinton Foundation donors is further evidence of the pay-to-play politics at her State Department. No one is above the law.”

The Republican National Committee and its Chairman Reince Priebus took the opportunity to go after Clinton. In a statement Priebus said, “This is among the strongest and most unmistakable pieces of evidence of what we’ve long suspected: at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, access to the most sensitive policy makers in U.S. diplomacy was for sale to the highest bidder.” Republicans are not the only ones attacking the Clinton Foundation, news publication USA Today’s editorial board is calling for the organization’s closure.

The Clinton campaign is trying to curb the criticism and potential damage to her chances of winning the election. Bill Clinton issued a statement outlining changes to the Clinton Foundation should Hillary be elected president. The former president would step down from the board of directors, stop fundraising, cease taking foreign donations, or even from American corporations and would end “annual meetings of its international aid program, the Clinton Global Initiative.” Daughter Chelsea Clinton, however, would remain on the board.

Former President Clinton again defended his foundation, saying, “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. The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say about it except I’m really proud.”

Despite the changes, Clinton still owes favors to 6,000 donors that had combined, donated $2 billion dollars to the foundation since its inception in 2000, when Clinton left the presidency. No matter how many scandals Clinton has had during her tenure at the State Department, never mind her husband’s during his presidency in the 1990s, she still leads in the polls. Whatever, her actions can be called they are a clear warning sign, one voters are ignoring. Instead, the media continually attacks Trump for mere statements and comments rather than actions.

Republicans choosing to defect to Clinton do not realize any Republican president will be more sympathetic to their agenda, than Clinton, who continually views the GOP as an enemy creating conspiracy theories about her. If Clinton wins the election, she truly would be made of Teflon devoid of any consequences for her actions, when any leader is given such a free pass it never ends well. Although different, not so much according to journalist Bob Woodward voters should read a history book on Watergate. Brewing political scandals during an election do tumble over into the presidency.

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