Hillary on Trump: How do we know he'll put America's interests above his own petty financial interests?

Good question. Not the right person to be asking that question.

This election increasingly feels headed towards some sort of singularity in which all of Trump’s and Clinton’s worst traits merge together and it becomes difficult to tell them apart. Ongoing business with dubious foreigners that risks a conflict-of-interest nightmare in the executive branch: Which candidate was that again?

That’s part of a string of tweets this morning from her campaign springboarding off of the new Newsweek cover story about the Trump Organization’s dealings with various shady foreign actors and the many potential conflicts for Trump that will stem from it if he becomes president and doesn’t sell his holdings off. The Trump Organization is a business, of course, whereas the Clinton Foundation is a charity, a key distinction to the many lefties who can’t understand why conservatives are laughing at the thought of Hillary Clinton scolding someone else over foreign dealings. But the Clinton Foundation is no ordinary charity: It spends a lot of money covering the Clintons’ travel expenses compared to the direct aid it provides, and it’s a valuable instrument with which the Clintons can spread around cash and favors to interests here and abroad. Look no further than the infamous Uranium One deal, in which a group of Foundation donors ponied up a few million dollars for the charity (which wasn’t publicly disclosed, contra Clinton’s promises), then made a bundle when the sale of their uranium company to Russian entities was approved by Hillary’s State Department. To this day the Foundation continues to accept foreign donations despite Hillary possibly being four months away from becoming president, and Chelsea Clinton has vowed that she’ll remain a member of the board even if mom wins the election.

The Foundation is a conduit for influence peddling. The Clintons, already fabulously wealthy from book royalties, speeches, and Bill’s sweet-ass gig with Laureate International Universities, don’t need it to pay their bills — but doubtless it helps introduce them to people who want to give them money as part of other ventures. Coincidentally, Bill Clinton ended up with a $500,000 payday from a Russian investment bank for a speech in Moscow shortly after the Uranium One deal was approved. Exactly who’s bankrolling each of Bill’s highly lucrative foreign speaking gigs isn’t always clear, and even when it is, that can appear plenty shady too. Just yesterday, the Daily Mail published a story about one of Bill’s top aides asking the U.S. ambassador to Malaysia in 2010 to attend an event for — ta da — Laureate University. The ambassador agreed, which was smart considering that his boss at State at the time was Bill Clinton’s wife. I wonder if Bill landed any bonuses from Laureate for getting the ambassador to show. None of that excuses Trump’s choice in business partners, but if you’re looking for a candidate in this election who’s free from dubious conflicts of interest abroad, you’re going to have to look past the two major-party nominees.

Oh — in other “scandal singularity” news, the Hillary-supporting attorney general of New York just announced that he’ll be investigating Trump’s family foundation for possible improprieties ranging from the questionable donation to Florida AG Pam Bondi a few years ago to the report recently in WaPo that Trump once used charity money to buy a six-foot portrait of, um, himself. WaPo has been dogging him this entire campaign over his charitable giving: Trump likes to boast about how generous he is (of course), but as far as the Post can tell, he’s made exactly one donation of a few thousand dollars of his own money since 2009. All of his other donations have come from the family foundation — and he hasn’t donated to his own foundation since 2008. It receives money from other donors and then the foundation distributes that, effectively turning other people’s gifts into gifts from Trump with no additional money from him added. Which means, as John Ekdahl pointed out a few days ago, that Trump has given more to the Clinton Foundation since 2008 than he has to his own charity. All of which may seem like a sideshow — who cares how much each candidate has donated to what? — but the way they’ve treated their charities is an interesting insight into their core characters. For Clinton, it’s about influence peddling; for Trump, it’s about making a public show of generosity with little to back it up. This is who we’ve stuck ourselves with.

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John Sexton 10:05 PM on February 02, 2023