Hillary Clinton’s campaign is rejecting an Associated Press story on her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors while she was secretary of state. Documents show more than half of the people from outside the U.S. government who spoke with Secretary Clinton also gave money to the foundation.
This report is creating new perception problems for the Clinton campaign and the State Department, which have both been arguing for days that foundation donors got no special treatment by the secretary, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.
Clinton herself hasn’t weighed in on the controversy because she’s spent most of the past three days out of the public eye, at high-dollar fundraisers in California.
Donald Trump claimed the report is proof of a “pay-for-play” scheme. In Austin, Texas, he accused the Clintons of running a criminal enterprise.
“Lie after lie after lie, Hillary Clinton is totally unfit to hold public office,” Trump said. “It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins.”
He cited the new analysis by the Associated Press, which examined Hillary Clinton’s daily schedules as secretary of state and found 85 of the 154 private individuals who got meetings or phone calls with her had donated to the foundation – either personally or through their organization.
“This is why I have called for a special prosecutor into this mess,” Trump said.
The Clinton campaign fired back, saying the AP report relied on “utterly flawed data,” which gave a “distorted portrayal” of the secretary’s schedule. They also added that meetings with humanitarians like Melinda Gates and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus are “squarely in the purview of America’s top diplomat,” and rejected Trump’s call for a special prosecutor.
“It is an act of desperation on his campaign, given the turmoil that we’ve seen from his campaign in recent weeks,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told MSNBC.
Newlyreleased emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin show foundation donors — like Slim-Fast founder Danny Abraham — were able to nab last-minute meetings with Clinton with one call to her aide. But State Department officials said there’s no evidence those donors got any special favors.
The FBI director declined to say last month whether agents had looked into the foundation connection.
“I’m not going to comment. I’m not going to answer that,” James Comey said at a congressional hearing.
The term “special prosecutor” strikes fear in the hearts of longtime Clintonites, who still recall when one of them – Kenneth Starr – was appointed to look into the Whitewater controversy – an investigation that grew to include Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and eventually led to former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.