Politics

Bill Clinton Says It Was Only ‘Natural’ For Clinton Foundation Donors To Ask For Favors

(Reuters/Samantha Sais) / Reuters

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

It was only “natural” for Clinton Foundation donors and personal friends of the Clintons to ask Hillary Clinton’s State Department for favors, Bill Clinton said in a recent interview.

“It was natural for people who’ve been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things,” the former president said during an interview that aired Monday on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

“And I trusted the State Department wouldn’t do anything they shouldn’t do, from a meeting to a favor,” he continued.

The interview comes as the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) kicks off its final annual meeting this week. The Clinton charity network has come under increased scrutiny because of its donors’ relationships with the Clintons. Recently-released emails have shown Clinton Foundation advisers asking State Department officials for access and favors for major donors.

The appearance of pay-for-play has forced Bill Clinton to announce that he will step down from the Foundation if his wife is elected president. The non-profit network has also said it will stop accepting donations from foreign entities.

“It’s hard, but, you know, if Hillary is elected, I’m looking forward to it,” he said of his decision to leave the non-profit.

“I’ve had this job longer than I ever had any job, and I’ve loved it,” Clinton added. “And, you know, we always say in response to our critics that nobody in my family ever took a penny out of this foundation and put millions of dollars in. But I would have paid more to do this job. It was the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”

During the NPR interview, Clinton was asked why it took so long to announce the major leadership and fundraising changes.

“Because I thought it was presumptuous in the primary, but we’ve been working on this for about a year,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s admission that donors, friends and allies ask for favors follows similar comments made last week by Clinton Foundation president Donna Shalala. (RELATED: Clinton Foundation President: ‘No Question’ Donors Received ‘Courtesy Appointments’)

She said that there was “no question” that “there were phone calls made to get appointments for people.”

“But I don’t see any evidence that there was policy decisions made as a result of that other than courtesy appointments,” added Shalala, who served as secretary of Bill Clinton’s Department of Health and Human Services.

While Shalala, Clinton and the Clinton campaign have sought to beat back allegations of overt donor favoritism, a moderator of CGI events offered his candid assessment of the organization in an interview last month.

Adam Davidson, an NPR journalist who has hosted several CGI events, said during a Slate podcast that the organization’s events are “creepy,” “disgusting” and “gross.” (RELATED: Clinton Global Initiative Moderator Describes Group’s Events As ‘Creepy,’ ‘Disgusting,’ ‘Gross’)

“It seems, to me, that it is all about buying access. It is incredibly expensive just to go to the thing, it’s $100,000-something,” Davidson said of CGI events during the podcast.

“There’s sort of these explicit ways in which you get access,” he added. “You pay more money to get more access to political leaders and to really rich people and to big corporate leaders.”

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