The Clintons’ continual response to scandal is to lie, to stonewall, and above all, to blame Republicans--or as Hillary famously put it, the vast right wing conspiracy--for opposing them.
On the genuinely scandalous Clinton Foundation, however, the toughest and most penetrating critiques are now coming not just from Republicans, but from Hillary Clinton’s Democratic friends and her allies in the media--who are widely calling for the Foundation to be closed.
Last week, former Pennsylvania Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell said that “I definitely think if she wins the presidency they have to disband it.”
“It’d be impossible to keep the foundation open without at least the appearance of a problem,” Rendell explained.
The same week, the liberal editorial board of the Boston Globe wrote, “The once-and-maybe-future first family will have plenty to keep them busy next year if Hillary Clinton defeats Donald Trump in November. The foundation should remove a political — and actual — distraction and stop accepting funding. If Clinton is elected, the foundation should be shut down.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune explained why: “These special interests are not giving money because the foundation is such an effective charitable organization; a 2013 New York Times investigation made it seem chaotic. They are not paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to hear shopworn speeches because they expect to obtain profound insights. They want the Clintons’ help, and they’re willing to pay for it.”
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Disclosures as recent as last week suggest that is exactly what the Clintons provided.
Emails made public through a Freedom of Information Act Request by Judicial Watch revealed, for instance, that Hillary Clinton’s State Department aides fielded a request from Foundation executive Doug Band on behalf of Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, who has donated more than $30 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Band noted in his request that the Crown Prince was “a good friend of ours.”
Huma Abedin, a Clinton aide at the nexus of the Secretary’s official, business, and Foundation interests, noted in her email to Band that the Crown Prince had previously failed to secure a meeting through normal State Department channels. Two days later, Abedin wrote back to Band to advise him that the meeting was confirmed.
This event was far from unique. As the Associated Press reported Tuesday, “More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation.”
The report found that “combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.”
Bowing in part to pressure from fellow Democrats and their media allies, Bill Clinton said this week that the Clinton Foundation will stop accepting foreign donations if his wife becomes president.
Yet the appearance of corruption, the obvious and inevitable conflicts of interests, and the unseemly arrangements that prompted that concession from the former president were equally clear when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
The Clintons didn’t care. They repeatedly violated their ethics agreement with the Obama administration to disclose and seek approval for foreign donors and speech clients.
Now they are making similar promise to the American people in order to ease Hillary’s path to the presidency. But just as the Obama administration was foolish to take them at their word, so would be the American people today.
The Clintons have proven they are neither transparent nor trustworthy. At the same time, there must be absolutely no question that an American president is above foreign influence-buying. That is why the only acceptable action for them, after all of this scandal, is to shut down the Clinton Foundation right now, before the election--and eliminate the corruption once and for all.
Newt Gingrich, a Republican, was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He is the author of the new novel “Duplicity" and co-author, with his wife Callista Gingrich, of "Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History and Future" (Center Street, May 17, 2016).