Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has renewed his call for the Clinton Foundation to be shut down, doubling down on his accusation that the charity group represents a conflict of interest for his rival, Hillary Clinton.
“It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt political enterprise in history,” Trump said in a statement Monday. “What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as secretary of state was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”
Trump has repeatedly slammed the nonprofit for accepting money from foreign countries, including some with poor human rights records. He says the donations amounted to corrupt “pay for play” practices.
Clinton, who served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, says she kept her work at the State Department separate from those at the foundation, which does philanthropic work around the globe.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]
Conflict of interest?
But recently unveiled emails suggest there was some overlap.
Feeling the pressure, the foundation last week announced it would stop accepting foreign and corporate donations if Hillary Clinton were elected president. It also said her husband, former President Bill Clinton, would step down from the group’s board.
That hasn’t been enough to satisfy some critics. This week, the left-leaningHuffington Post ran the headline “Just Shut It Down” – linking to a 2015 New York Times expose on the foundation – and joined the editorial boards of The Boston Globe and the New York Post in that assessment.
“It’s pretty obvious the Clinton Foundation has presented loads of problems and conflicts of interests for Hillary Clinton so far,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “They would be far better off just shutting it down. But they’re not willing.”
No smoking gun?
The emails suggest State Department aides to Clinton looked into doing favors for Clinton Foundation donors or those linked to donors. But nothing has shown that the favors were actually granted.
Most of the accusations have focused on two separate instances.
Shortly after Clinton stepped down as its secretary in 2013, the State Department expressed interest in, but didn’t follow through with, buying real estate from a Nigerian company run by a man whose brother donated at least $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In another instance, a senior Clinton Foundation official, Doug Band, asked a top Clinton aide at the State Department about getting a job for an individual whom he said it was “important to take care of.” The individual, whose name was redacted in the email, was subsequently sent “options,” according to a reply by Huma Abedin, the State Department aide. The outcome of the apparent job placement effort is not clear.
Clinton herself has not been implicated in any of the emails.
Clinton hits back
Clinton campaign officials have firmly denied any wrongdoing, saying any decisions by Clinton were made without considering donors’ influence. More recently, they have also begun to use the issue as a way to launch counterattacks on Trump’s business dealings.
“The Clinton Foundation is a charity that helps people around the world. It’s already announced major steps it’ll take if Clinton wins,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said on Twitter. “Trump’s businesses exist to enrich himself, involve a web of shady connections, and he still hasn’t committed to divesting his holdings.”
The billionaire Trump has said that, if elected president, he would hand over control of the Trump Organization to his three oldest children, who are also involved with their father’s presidential campaign.