Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton granted CNN’s Anderson Cooper an audience Wednesday night so should could address the ongoing news reports about the intermingling of interests between the Clinton Foundation and the US State Department while she was Secretary of State.
She attempted to assuage voters by telling Cooper there was no real story there:
“Look, Anderson, I know there is a lot of smoke and there is no fire. This AP report put in it context. This excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders. And countless other meetings with U.S. government officials when I was secretary of state. It looks at a small portion of my time.”
Now, this is very interesting: “I know there is a lot of smoke and there is no fire.”
By conceding “there is a lot of smoke” Clinton is admitting that the news reports make the commingling of interests between the foundation and the State Department look bad. By claiming “there is no fire” suggests that Mrs. Clinton is confident that no one can every prove that she made any decision or took any action as Secretary of State because of undo influence from a donation to the Clinton Foundation.
Why does she boldly make that claim? Because it is virtually impossible to prove. That’s why the standard was set during her confirmation hearings that “smoke” was enough of a problem to cry foul.
That’s right. The standard was set in 2009 that “smoke” not “fire” was to be avoided. Even the mere appearance of undo influence was to be avoided. The Obama Administration, as well as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanded a Memorandum of Understanding which, we were promised, was specifically designed to prevent smoke, let alone fire.
Who promised us there wouldn’t even be an appearance of impropriety between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department? Why, Hillary Clinton, herself.
Here is part of her sworn testimony during her confirmation hearings:
“My husband doesn’t take a salary. He has no financial interests in any of this. I don’t take a salary. I have no financial interests. So out of that abundance of caution and a desire to avoid even the appearance, the president-elect’s transition team began working with the foundation to try to craft an agreement that would avoid the appearance of a conflict but would also ensure that the foundation can continue its work.”
“However, the foundation and the president-elect decided to go beyond what the law and the ethics rules call for to address even the appearance of conflict and that is why they signed a memorandum of understanding, which outlines the voluntary steps that the foundation is taking to address potential concerns that might come up down the road.”
Chairman (and now Clinton’s successor at State) John Kerry agreed:
“If you are traveling to some country and you meet with the foreign leadership, and a week later or two weeks later or three weeks later the president travels there and solicits a donation, and they pledge to give at some point in the future, but nobody knows, is there an appearance of a conflict? Could there be an appearance of a conflict?
That is what I think Senator Lugar is trying to get at. He has determined that it is simpler simply to adopt one of the options that he’s articulated. For reasons you obviously feel are important, and we understand it, you feel otherwise. You have gone beyond the law. You have done things to set up a process.
And really, we’re going to have to make the process work, and we’re confident that you have put yourself on the line today to make that happen.
And now, here we are. She’s a few swing states away from the presidency and we are just now getting to see her emails (only thanks to rigorous and determined efforts y some journalists and FOIA judges) and it’s clear that there was at the very least an obvious appearance of impropriety between the two entities, if not actual, influence peddling.
Based on all of the warnings from the Senate and the Obama Administration and the Memorandum of Understanding vowing to erect a firewall between State and the foundation, “there’s smoke and there is no fire” doesn’t cut it.