President Bill Clinton appeared as a call-in guest on NPR this morning and his remarks regarding pay-for-play allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation were fairly surprising. When asked directly whether donors gave money to gain favor with the Secretary of State, Clinton brazenly admitted that “since we had more 300,000 donors, it would be unusual if nobody did.”
That said, Clinton was dismissive of the relevance of the pay-for-play allegations saying it was just “natural for people who had been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things.” Clinton’s comments seemed to echo those of DNC chair, Donna Brazile, who recently told ABC that it was natural for donors to seek access, saying that any questions over the impropriety of such behavior was just an attempt to “criminalize behavior that is normal.”
This new approach to addressing allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation (i.e. admitting to improper behavior while simultaneously dismissing the seriousness of the charges) seems to be a coordinated strategy between the DNC, the Clinton Foundation and the Hillary campaign. Just last week, Clinton Foundation CEO, Donna Shalala, admitted that there was “no question” that Foundation donors received “courtesy appointments” but simultaneously dismissed the behavior as completely normal in Washington politics.
Here is the relevant exchange between Bill Clinton and Steve Inskeep from NPR:
Steve Inskeep (NPR):
“Do you think over the years, Mr. President that there were people who donated to the Foundation thinking that they’re building a relationship wit you, that they’re building a relationship with Hillary Clinton and that you guys might be back in the White House some day?”
“Well, since we had more than 300,000 donors, it would be unusual if nobody did. The names I saw in the paper, none of them surprised me and all of them could have gotten their own meeting with Hillary. When you’ve been doing this kind of work as long as we have, you know the people who are the major players.
And also, some of them who call my staff, people were doing double duty back then, and I had an office of the former president when it was natural for people who had been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things. I trusted the State Department wouldn’t do anything they shouldn’t do, from a meeting to a favor.”
Maybe some of them gave money for that reason [to gain political influence], but most of them gave it because they liked what we were doing.”
The full interview is available for your listening pleasure below (segment on donors starts at 4:55):
Nothing to see here folks, please stop trying to “criminalize behavior that is normal.”