In a moment of candor, former President Bill Clinton said Monday that it was “natural” for Clinton Foundation donors to think believe their donations would give them influence with his wife, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Emails unearthed from Clinton’s days as secretary of state have shown that foundation executives gave direct orders to Clinton’s State Department aides, telling them to do favors that had been requested by individuals who were also major donors to the Clinton Foundation.
“It was natural for people who’ve been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things,” Bill Clinton said. “And I trusted the State Department wouldn’t do anything they shouldn’t do, from a meeting to a favor.”
“All of them could have gotten their own meeting with Hillary,” he said, implying that taking the direct route to her aides simply was a shortcut.
“When you’ve been doing this kind of work for as long as we have, you know the people who are the major players,”he said.
Clinton claimed seeking influence was not the reason most donors gave to the foundation.
“Maybe some of them gave money for that reason, but most of them gave it because they liked what they were doing because they knew me,” he said.
However, he admitted that there were likely some people who assumed they had greater status due to their donations.
“Well, since we had more than 300,000 donors, it would be unusual if nobody did,” Clinton said in response to a question about whether donors were trying to curry favor in a possible upcoming Clinton administration.
The former president also suggested that the investigation into his wife’s use of a private email server is out of proportion to its importance and has unfairly damaged her reputation.
“In real life, if somebody tells a lie about you, and I find out it is [a lie], I like you more and them less,” Clinton said.
“In political life, if they just keep on smearing you — even if it all comes to nothing — people will like you less and won’t hold anybody accountable for what they say.”
Voters who are turning away from Hillary Clinton are “responding to the fact that this email thing was treated like the most important event since the end of World War II,” he said. “I wonder if there’s a man in America that could have taken what she’s been through in the last year and a half.”
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