In a lawsuit filed this week, New York Attorney General Letitia James said a months long investigation into the National Rifle Association found extensive "fraud and abuse" and she's calling for the powerful gun rights organization to be dissolved. Diane talks with Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA, about the lawsuit and what comes next.
Guest Host: Tom Gjelten
Last October Bernie Sanders said the American people were sick and tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails, but like it or not the story is far from over. The FBI found nearly fifteen thousand Clinton emails beyond the ones turned over to the State Department previously. The Department is now going through these emails, and a federal judge has ordered it to speed up their release. A conservative watchdog group this week separately released some emails that show big donors to the Clinton Foundation seeking access to Clinton when she was Secretary of State. Join us to talk about what we know and don’t know about Clinton’s emails.
- Hilary Rosen Democratic strategist; managing director, SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting and PR firm; and a CNN contributor
- Mark Landler White House correspondent, The New York Times; author of a new book, "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power"
- Byron York Chief political correspondent, The Washington Examiner
- James Grimaldi Senior writer, Wall Street Journal
MR. TOM GJELTENThanks for joining us. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's on a station visit to WUNC in Raleigh Durham, North Carolina. The state department is reviewing nearly 15,000 additional emails from Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, emails not handed over by her lawyers last year and a conservative watchdog group that got another batch of state department emails say they show improper ties with the Clinton's charitable foundation.
MR. TOM GJELTENJoining me to talk about Clinton's emails and Donald Trump's call for a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton Foundation, Mark Landler of the New York Times, Byron York of The Washington Examiner, and James Grimaldi from The Wall Street Journal. Also, by phone, we have Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist. Good to see you.
MR. MARK LANDLERGood morning.
MR. BYRON YORKGood to be here.
MR. JAMES GRIMALDIGood morning, Tom.
GJELTENSo this is a hot topic these days. You can get into our conversation yourselves with your own thoughts and questions. Are you sick and tired of this story or do you think the private emails and the revelations about the Clinton Foundation raise questions about Hillary Clinton's judgment and character? Our phone number is 1-800-433-8850. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can always find us also on our Facebook page. You can reach us on Twitter and we'll get to your questions and comments a little bit later.
GJELTENMark, fill us in first. This can get kind of confusing, keeping track of all this stuff. So Hillary Clinton had 60,000 emails on her private email server, approximately half of which she turned over to the state department because she said they were work-related. Half, she said, were private and they were allegedly deleted or we were told they were deleted. Now, the FBI has come up with almost 15,000 and passed them to the state department for its review.
GJELTENWhere did those emails come from? Did they recover these deleted emails? What is that all about?
LANDLERWell, it's a combination of things. One is they did recover emails and fragments of emails when they scoured her computer server and recall, when the director of the FBI, James Comey, reported on this in July, he pointed out that there wasn't just one server. There were a series of servers. Some had been decommissioned and replaced by others and so the FBI investigated all of those and recovered, you know, I think he described it as almost like a giant jigsaw puzzle, fragments of emails, put things together.
LANDLERThere are also a category of emails that they found in the archives of people that Hillary Clinton had emailed to, but not necessarily received from. So those emails were presumably not residing on her server, but nevertheless had passed through her. And so in cobbling together the recovered emails and the emails that they found elsewhere, they came up with a number of 14,900. I don't think that reply -- I don't think that corresponds, specifically, to 14,900 separate emails.
LANDLERI think it's probably 14,900 documents the majority of which are probably emails, but there's also attachments and other documents. And that is the, you know, trove of material that they have handed over to the state department. Which the state department is now investigating and going through and kind of performing the same process they did on the 30,000 that she turned over voluntarily, which is to say deciding whether some of them need to be retroactively classified or redacted for any variety of reasons that they did with the last set that they eventually, you know, released in these monthly installments.
GJELTENAnd has the FBI said whether this is all that they are going to be able to recover from those private -- those deleted emails or might we yet see more?
LANDLERWell, they haven't indicated that there's more and, you know, they've more or less reported on the investigation -- on the results of their investigation so I'm not sure we would necessarily expect a large new number of emails. But you know, Judicial Watch, which has a series of lawsuits filed under the FOIA act is also getting emails that are sometimes more related to close aides of Hillary Clinton, but bear on the same issues that her own emails do.
LANDLERAnd that's a separate reservoir of emails that gets released by Judicial Watch, you know, a watchdog organization on a periodic basis. And there are other FOIA investigations that news organizations have filed. So I think that we can't assume that we won't continue to see new emails. Whether we'll see a group as large as 14,900, probably seems unlikely at this point.
GJELTENWell, Byron York, Mark mentioned the Judicial Watch lawsuit that resulted in some emails about -- that largely pertain to the relationship between the Clinton state department and the Clinton Foundation. There is also a big story from the Associated Press last night that sort of separately went into researching some of the donors to the Clinton Foundation and how often they visited the state department. Fill us in on both those two stories, what they add to what we know.
YORKWell, this is part of the kind of the merging of the Clinton Foundation story and the email story. And Judicial Watch has filed a number of lawsuits. In response to one request, they got some emails from Huma Abedin, who is Hillary Clinton's closest personal aide, also some that concern Cheryl Mills, who is a member of the Clinton Foundation board before going to the state department to be Hillary Clinton's chief of staff and then after, going back to the Clinton Foundation. And the thing that got the most news in the Judicial Watch revelations was an email concerning the crown prince of Bahrain who had come to the United States, wanted to see the secretary of state, went through normal channels.
YORKHillary Clinton, for reasons that seem mostly personal, scheduling -- wasn't interested in seeing the crown prince. Then, there's an email from Doug Band, top official over at the Clinton Foundation, to whom Abedin's saying, hey, this guy's trying to see the secretary. He's a good friend. And then, a few days later, she saw him. So is there some connection there? I don't know. But it got a lot of attention. So that stuff is coming from the Judicial Watch side.
YORKNow, on the email side, I do think the one thing that is really striking about the 14,900 -- we don't know if some are duplicates or they're documents as was suggested. But, you know, Hillary Clinton -- we keep going back to this March 10, 2015, news conference in which she made, really, her most comprehensive statement about the emails, when it's first revealed. And she said she turned everything over and then she later testified to the Benghazi Committee -- remember that marathon, 11 hour testimony -- that her lawyers had gone through every single email.
YORKAnd what this suggests is that, no, they didn't do that.
GJELTENAll right. James, Byron mentioned that these two stories have sort of intersected in a way. And one of the ways in which they've intersected is that in some of these emails the Judicial Watch released, there actually were, I think in three cases, there were responses from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Huma Abedin. Now, were those -- do we know whether some of the emails that Judicial Watch has released actually were from the private stash of emails that Hillary Clinton had not previously released or are they from the ones that were already being reviewed by the state department?
GRIMALDIWell, we don't know the answer to that, whether these are some of the same emails that the FBI has located when they were, you know, scouring the various government websites, the various government servers in order to try to find additional emails. Remember, Hillary Clinton was primarily operating only on her private email account so all of those communications would have come from her private email. Presumably, these would've been turned over when she said she released them all to the state department.
GRIMALDIWhat's not clear is why they've popped up in the Judicial Watch lawsuit and they were not released previously in those rolling releases that we saw last year by the state department, which were the emails she turned back over to the state department after she separated what she called personal emails versus official emails.
MS. HILARY ROSENIt's...
ROSENThere are multiple reasons why this could have occurred and none of them are essentially Hillary Clinton's fault, as it were. Which is that, first of all, we don't know how many of these 15,000 emails are duplicates and the state department had said yesterday that they thought many of them were duplicates for emails that had already been reviewed by them and either determined irrelevant or had already been released. So that's one thing. And as you said, we don't know that it's 15,000 emails. We just know it's a significant number of documents.
ROSENThe second is the first thing that Hillary Clinton said, upon learning that the FBI found additional emails, which could have been because, as they came in, they were deleted, you know, the computer's automatically archived, there could be 100 reasons why things got cached and not -- didn't show up. The first thing Hillary Clinton said was, release them all. So this notion that, you know, Hillary Clinton is responsible for the slow drip, drip, drip is just wrong.
GRIMALDIWell, no, it's not.
ROSENIn fact, Secretary Clinton has asked that every email be released and when there are emails that were not related to state department work, it was perfectly within her right and her team's right not to forward those emails.
GRIMALDIWell, I would just disagree on one point. It is her fault that she chose to have these emails on a private server rather than on a government server.
ROSENWell, that's the big picture and of course -- and she has taken responsibility for that.
GRIMALDIWhich was required under federal law and under federal regulations. So she put it on a private server. So to suggest she has not culpability or responsibility...
ROSENNo, no, no. I didn't say that and you know that.
GJELTENOkay, hang on, Hilary. I want to get back to this discussion after the break and I want to get into this issue of the Clinton Foundation and the visitors to the state department, as I mentioned before. There is an AP story last night that correlated people coming to the state department and donating to the Clinton Foundation. I want your thoughts on that. We're gonna take a short break now, stay with us. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is "The Diane Rehm Show."
GJELTENHello again. I'm Tom Gjelten from NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm today. And we're talking about the intersection of two big stories, the Clinton email story and the Clinton Foundation story. I have a terrific panel. Here with me in the studio is Mark Landler, he's the White House correspondent for The New York Times, also Byron York, chief political correspondent at The Washington Examiner, James Grimaldi, a senior writer from the Wall Street Journal, and joining us on the phone is Hilary Rosen, who is a Democratic strategist and managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, which is a political consulting and PR firm.
GJELTENAnd Hilary, we were just getting into a very interesting discussion before the break. One question I have is this judgment that Hillary Clinton and her lawyers made about the distinction between work-related emails and private emails. Do you have any sense of how that judgment was made, and do any of these emails that have surfaced pertaining to the Clinton Foundation, would they have been, were they considered to be private emails by Hillary Clinton and her lawyers?
ROSENWell, the Clinton -- first of all the emails that surfaced about the Clinton Foundation were not from Hillary Clinton's servers. They were from her staff. So...
GJELTENBut in some cases they were email exchanges. In three cases they were email exchanges between Huma Abedin and herself.
ROSENWell, in all of the cases where Hillary was directly communicating with the -- with her staff, I think anyone who looked at those emails would argue that she was perfectly appropriate in her response, that to suggest anything else is just incorrect.
GJELTENRight, I'm just trying to clarify whether those emails came from her private server, and were they considered private, the responses to Huma Abedin.
ROSENWell, I think at this point it does not matter because Hillary Clinton herself has asked for all of the emails that have come up to be released. And I think it's worth just stepping back for one minute on this Clinton Foundation, Tom, and it's a big contrast from Donald Trump. The Clinton Foundation is a charity where President and Secretary Clinton and their daughter, they take no salary, they get no money from it, they take no personal benefit from it.
ROSENThis charity invests in cures for AIDS in Africa and helping people in -- from flood and storms in Haiti, from curing diseases. So we are talking about purely charitable work that has never benefitted them personally. And so the idea somehow that it is wrong for somebody who is a donor, like Melinda Gates, to the Clinton Foundation, you know, there was a report in the newspaper that somehow it's inappropriate for her to seek a meeting with Hillary Clinton when she is indeed a well-recognized, global expert on health disparities in the world.
ROSENI mean, the connection that people are making and that the Judicial Watch, which is a right-wing organization, are making just make no sense. I don't think when people really dig into this they will mind that they Clintons devoted countless hours and resources of their time to try and help people around the world.
GJELTENWell, I think that's actually a good point, Hilary Rosen. You know, all of this hubbub, I haven't seen anything that would suggest any sort of nefarious use of Clinton Foundation monies. But you made some points earlier that I think Byron and Mark want to respond to about the distinction between public and private communications. Byron.
YORKRight, first of all when she, on March 10 of last year, when she first announced this, she said there were 60,000 emails, about half were work-related, about half were personal.
YORKShe made the decision on what was personal and what was work-related, and she destroyed the personal, and she had already destroyed the personal by the time the public learned about this. And so I think that one of the questions that you brought up, actually I think John Heilemann of New York Magazine mentioned his yesterday on television, he said I've been trying to ask the -- I've been asking the Clinton campaign for a long time as far as this personal/work-related distinction is concerned, were emails related to the Clinton Foundation personal.
GJELTENThat's a big question.
YORKAnd we don't know the answer.
GJELTENAnd, but Hilary Rosen...
ROSENI think that she has responded to this.
GJELTENYou said that you don't think that's an important question.
ROSENNo, I didn't say that. I think that they have responded that anything that had to do with her State Department work was considered State Department business. So for instance if it was a conversation about something official that the State Department was being asked to do, whether or not somebody was a donor of the foundation, that would be State Department business. I don't -- again, and Hillary Clinton herself has said let's release them all, she has nothing to hide.
ROSENAnd so there...
GRIMALDIYou mean release the ones she has not already destroyed.
GJELTENYeah, how can she release them if -- how can they be released if they've been deleted?
ROSENWell, whatever exists. (chuckles) So as I said, I think they've been clear that anything that had State Department activity or State Department people were not -- were either turned over, or they assumed because they were sent to somebody with a state.gov address were held by the State Department. So...
GJELTENOkay, well let me just -- I can't verify this, but in the Judicial Watch press release, it says that the new documents, the ones pertaining to the Clinton Foundation, the new documents included 20 Hillary Clinton email exchanges not previously turned over to the State Department. I can't, as I say, verify that. That's what Judicial Watch claims. Mark Landler?
LANDLERI mean one...
ROSENJudicial Watch, a right-wing organization, has been after the Clintons for years, I just say that.
LANDLEROne thing that has puzzled me, as someone who's covered this from the very beginning, is simply the volume of emails we're talking about. There were, by their own account, 31,000 personal emails. I mean, I've -- I've thought through this for a long time, you know, how much email, and they describe those as being about things like yoga sessions or Chelsea's wedding planning, and I've always been a little bit puzzled about how you generate 31,000 emails over a four-year period.
GJELTENHow many is that a day? A couple dozen.
LANDLERSomeone I'm sure has done the math, it's a lot. And so I think that's just one of things that just leaves questions in people's minds. And I think the reason of this issue of whether Clinton Foundation email qualifies as work-related is a more salient question today because of some of these new disclosures that have come out about the number of people who Hillary Clinton has met who are donors or have been donors to the Clinton Foundation.
LANDLERAnd look, it is true that it's very hard, in fact to my knowledge no one has yet produced a smoking gun showing a quid-pro-quo or a pay-to-play arrangement, but the sheer -- you know, when you look at 85 of 154 non-governmental people in the first two years of Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state were people who donated money to the Clinton Foundation or other Clinton entities, I think that raises a reasonable question about the comingling of Clinton Foundation interests and State Department interests.
LANDLERAnd I'm not saying that that is a provable point of malfeasance, but we all know that it's the appearance in these things that matters almost as much as the reality.
GJELTENJames Grimaldi, you've been covering the foundation for a long time, and I think Hilary Rosen mentioned this earlier, and I think it's important to keep this in mind. The word corruption has been thrown around a lot with respect to this story. Donald Trump put out a statement this week saying it is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. Of course Donald Trump is known for his understatement, isn't he?
GRIMALDIRight, and his hyperbole.
GJELTENBut tell us about, you know, about what the Clinton Foundation has done. And have there been allegations about how the money that went to the Clinton Foundation have been spent, any of those allegations that any of that money was spent improperly.
GRIMALDIWell, one of the things Trump has talked about is that it funds their private travel and their chartered jet travel and additional security. So there is some personal benefit. I think that the Clintons accrue from being part of the foundation. Yes, they don't receive any salary for it, but Hillary is bragging, and probably rightfully so, about all of the good works that the Clinton Foundation has done, which helps build their brand and build their image as being people who want to do good in the world.
GRIMALDISo there is a bit of -- and that's good for a politician, right. Look at, we've done some work on AIDS in Africa and try to deal with poverty and the hurricane relief in Haiti. There are a lot of good things that were done. But, you know, I've also looked at the intersection of corporate donations and corporate participation in many of these projects at the same time that these companies were giving -- were seeking favors and received favors from Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
GRIMALDIAnd what I did was I compared the large donors to corporations and found that there were 60 corporations that had donated $26 million in cash to the Clinton Foundation and had participated in commitments, they call them, worth more than $2 billion. So I think dug deeper to look at the individual corporations, to see that a company like Boeing, Hillary Clinton was out there promoting Boeing jet sales to Russia, and after that time, there was a gift from the Boeing Corporation.
ROSENI'm sorry, you know what...
GJELTENLet him finish.
GRIMALDIShe was promoting General Electric generators -- they were -- she promoted the sale of General Electric generators worth $2 billion in a foreign country, and then they received money from General Electric.
GJELTENOkay, let's let Hilary Rosen respond to this.
ROSENSo we have something in this country called the EXIM Bank, which actually government funds purchases from companies like Boeing and General Electric for overseas sales. This is a policy -- if you go back, you know, 15 president, they will -- they all supported Boeing sales overseas.
ROSENThey all supported GE sales.
ROSENThat's just ridiculous to suggest that any of these decisions that Hillary Clinton made to support American exports...
GRIMALDIAnd American jobs.
ROSENHad something to do with the Clinton Foundation, and American jobs.
GRIMALDIRight, so there was -- I agree.
ROSENNo, no, no, wait, wait, let me finish. The fact that these companies decided that there was a good vehicle in the Clinton Foundation to extend to their good works other ways, that President Clinton through the Clinton Global Initiative identified needs that would be useful for these companies to help overseas is a good thing for this country. You compare that to Donald Trump, who even when he would be on TV with his television show saying he was going to make personal charitable contributions ended up having the television station make them for him.
ROSENI mean this -- there's just no comparison in terms of the importance and level of effort that the Clintons have made encouraging people to do good work around the world. And one more...
ROSENI just want to make one more point, Tom, though.
GJELTENMake it quickly.
ROSENWhich is the connection between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. Everybody around this table has worked in Washington a long time. The non-governmental organization world, the Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, the Hewlett-Packard Foundation, foundations work with our governments all the time. The Agency for International and the State Department regularly meet with these foundations, with the donors of those foundations in order to maximize resources to problem areas around the world.
ROSENThe fact that the Clinton Foundation participated in that, that some of the donors there also helped in other places, simply shows how much of a good impact it had. The notion that Donald Trump would call this corrupt compared to some of his activity is just beyond belief to me.
GJELTENHillary Clinton -- Hilary Rosen, I'm sure you get that a lot, Hilary Rosen is a Democratic strategist. I'm Tom Gjelten. You're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Mark Landler, you've covered the State Department, you cover the White House. What do you make of this AP story from last night that found that more than half of the people outside the government, talking about private people and not foreign dignitaries, who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money either personally or through companies or groups to the Clinton Foundation? Is that a big deal?
LANDLERWell yeah, I do think it is. I will, you know, I think it's worth pointing out that the campaign pushed back hard against this, and it was interesting to me they did because they've actually largely ignored the new email revelations on the, I think, calculation that people don't care that much about this anymore. On the foundation, they did push back hard with two points. They said, A, this time period that AP used was the first half of her tenure, and hence it's incomplete, they sort of cherry-pick the numbers, and secondly that the number of foreign governmental or governmental people would make this 154 look like a very small percentage of the total.
LANDLERBut look, I think it attests to one thing, which is that the Clinton Foundation has been extremely successful in tapping a donor base, and a lot of the people that Hillary Clinton in the NGO world might appropriately sit down and meet with the secretary of state were people who happened to have given money to the Clinton Foundation. And I do think it's worth noting that a few of the people who are cited in the most recent Judicial Watch emails as people who got meetings with Clinton are people who would've gotten meetings with Clinton anyway.
LANDLERI mean one example, Muhammad Yunus, who is the -- was the head of the Grameen Bank, is actually someone that Hillary Clinton has known and whose work she has advocated on behalf of since she was first lady in Arkansas, not first lady of the U.S. but first lady in Arkansas. So she goes back with Muhammad Yunus a long way. You know, Melinda Gates is an obvious example. The crown prince of Bahrain is an interesting one because of the fact that -- in fact the U.S. government had spent a lot of time cultivating the crown prince of Bahrain, particularly later on when the Arab Spring happened, because I think they viewed him as potentially a reformer in Bahrain.
LANDLERAnd you'll recall the Bahraini government cracked down brutally on protesters during the Arab Spring. I recall writing about a trip the crown prince made to Washington in 2011, where Tom Donnell and the national security advisor arranged to have President Obama drop by a meeting he was having with the crown prince to drive home the message that we really like this guy.
LANDLERSo it wasn't just the Clinton Foundation who thought this guy was a good friend. I think the U.S. government wanted this guy to be a good friend, too. And that persuades me that the odds are he'd have gotten the time with Hillary anyway. I think if you look, by the way, at the time stamp on those emails, when Doug Band was appealing on the crown prince's behalf, it happened to be around the time when she broke her elbow, and I think there was an issue with her doing meetings with people.
LANDLERAnd the crown prince was clearly using his leverage. But, you know, I think the AP story raises a valid question. To some extent it says as much about the success of the Clinton Foundation as about nefarious potential activity.
GJELTENWell, it does say that the intermingling of access and donations fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton, Byron.
YORKYou know, if I could get the story back to the email side of it a little bit because I think this Clinton Foundation stuff is always going to be kind of murky, and you can say, well, all of these people with AIDS or other terrible diseases were helped by the Clinton Foundation, and there's -- there really are, there's two sides to the story.
YORKOn the email thing, I think one of the things the latest revelation about the 14,900 shows is that it's just more evidence of how she simply did not tell the truth about the emails, kind of simply and provably did not tell the truth about the emails, and the whole long James Comey statement in which he announced that she would not be prosecuted was basically one long statement of which she didn't tell the truth about this.
YORKCongress is looking into more of it because they kind of suspect that the FBI rushed this thing to judgment, but this is the biggest source of the voters' belief that she is not honest and trustworthy.
GJELTENAnd in fact, fact-checking organizations have given her bad marks on that. Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner. We're going to take a short break now. After that, we'll come back, and we'll answer the phones. Stay with us.
GJELTENAnd welcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten from NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm today. And we're talking about the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation and whether there is a scandal around these stories. I'm joined here by, in the studio, by Mark Landler, from the New York Times. He's the author of "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power." Also Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent for the Washington Examiner. James Grimaldi, Senior Writer from the Wall Street Journal.
GJELTENAnd joining us by phone is Hilary Rosen, who's a Democratic, well known Democratic strategist, managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, which is a political consulting and PR Firm. She's also a CNN contributor. And we've been talking about how these two stories overlap. And the Clinton Foundation, for all the good work that I think everybody agrees that it does, has really come under scrutiny. And one of the questions is what will happen to the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton is elected President?
GJELTENIn fact, what might happen even in these coming months? James Grimaldi, what do we know there about the Clintons' plans for this foundation if she becomes President and what are, you know, some of her allies saying should happen, she should do even proactively?
GRIMALDISo, they're saying that they will stop raising money from foreign governments and corporations and they're in the process of spinning off various elements of the Clinton Foundation and many of their subsidiaries, you might call them. I don't know that all of that's been determined, but it includes a big decision about what will happen with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is run by Ira Magaziner in Boston. And has been involved in negotiating lower AIDS drugs prices for poor people in Africa, for example.
GRIMALDIAnd we know that Bill Clinton himself will step off of the board of the Clinton Foundation. Although it appears that Chelsea Clinton will stay on the board. And I think that's probably going to raise a lot of questions about whether there's still an intimate connection to the Clinton Foundation, as it continues to raise money from wealthy individuals and foundations that may have ties to corporations or political agendas by wealthy philanthropists.
GJELTENHilary Rosen, the Boston Globe, last week, editorialized that the Clinton Foundation should stop accepting funds right now and then shut down completely if Hillary Clinton wins. And former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell says if she wins, they will have to disband it. What do you make of advice like that?
ROSENWell, I think that they, first of all, not all of the steps that they've outlined are dependent on the election. The Foundation's already said that the Clinton Global Initiative Conference in September will be the last one. But I think, you know, there's no reason to presume the outcome of the election. As I said, there's not only nothing wrong with what the Foundation is doing, it's actually doing good and important work. And so the decision to stop that work is not trivial.
ROSENAnd I think that the piece here that's important is that there -- the reason that people are able to look at who's giving to the Clinton Foundation is that unlike any other Foundation in the country or the world, since Hillary Clinton has been Secretary of State, they have disclosed every single donor. That's something that no other foundation has done and it's out of that -- it's out of the desire to be transparent, it's out of a confidence that the work is good work.
ROSENThat, you know, Mark and other good reporters have even been able to ascertain who these donors are. And, you know, that deserves a little credit, I think, for not only do they have nothing to hide, but they think it's important that people understand where the resources are coming from that enables this good work to be done. So, they will make changes if she becomes President. But they already had made a significant number of changes relative to other foundations when she became Secretary of State.
GJELTENNow Hilary, in Bill Clinton's statement this week, he said that they would stop as James said, they would stop accepting donations from foreign governments and corporations in order to avoid what would seem to be legitimate. I think he used the word legitimate perception of a conflict of interest. If the perception of a conflict of interest was -- would be legitimate as -- with her being President, why was it not legitimate when she was Secretary of State?
ROSENWell look, this is all uncharted territory, right. You know, he was President of the United States. She was his spouse. Most former Presidents work in charitable areas, do foundation work. I think that they were -- had been hoping that he could continue to be the great humanitarian around the world that he had proven himself to be as President. And I think to the extent that they put these rules in place, that the general counsel of the State Department would review activities that were relevant to the Secretary.
ROSENThat they would disclose all donors that the President would not be involved, President Clinton would not be involved in activities at the State Department. Those were, at the time, perceived to be enough. And I think, you know, but when your spouse is the President of the United States, your level of power and influence, you know, it ups the ante, and I think that they want to make sure that they do what they need to do to keep the faith of the American people.
GJELTENAll right, let's bring some listeners into this conversation. The board is full here of people who want to put in their two cents. First, to Greg, who's calling from here in Washington, D.C. Hello Greg, you're on the Diane Rehm Show.
GREGOh, hi. Thanks for taking my call. A really good conversation. I just wanted to follow up on something that was said earlier about the number of emails. It seems like if there were six, 60,000 emails that Secretary Clinton sent over a four year period, if she deleted, as she said, about 31,000 personal emails, as she called them, then that would mean that over half of her email work was for personal, personal means, personal matters. So for me, it raises the question, you know, when did she have time to do her work?
GREGI mean, these thorny diplomatic issues she was grappling with, or supposed to be grappling with, you know, require a lot of consideration and time. And if she's spending most of the time doing personal email, that just kind of raises a basic question of prioritization, focus, work ethic and I just, I'd love to hear comments about that.
GJELTENWell, you know, I, I -- way over half of the emails that I send and receive every day are work related. Much small number are personal, but it's hard to compare, I think, any of us to the Secretary of State. I mean, her use of email is going to be qualitatively different than any of us, I would think.
LANDLERI mean, I, I...
LANDLER...used her released emails as a, you know, a source of information for the book I wrote, and so I've plowed through thousands and thousands of these emails, hoping to find nuggets related to foreign policy. And, you know, look, it's remarkable. The pace and the amount of hours every day and the numbers of emails she sent at 12:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m., you know, so it is, it is sort of hard for me to contemplate that level of intensity on personal email, as well.
LANDLERWhich is, I think, why I raised the issue earlier. But, but I just want to make a broader point to echo what Byron said at the beginning. We can all speculate, you know, until the sun goes down, about what's in those emails. The problem was, you know, no independent authority had the right to make that distinction. That distinction was made before we ever had this debate by her lawyers, and I think that's kind of the under -- that's the original sin here. That there wasn't an independent authority that got to make that decision.
LANDLERAnd by the time we found out about it, those emails were all gone. And so, they lie out there as this kind of large trove of mysterious emails. And it could turn out that they are, in fact, largely or even wholly innocent. The fact is we just don't know. And I think that's the problem that Hillary Clinton has had in dealing with this issue and why it doesn't go away.
ROSENFrom day one, I think, if Hillary Clinton thought she had something to hide, she would have acted differently. The FBI was very clear. She was transparent in her dealing with them, gave them access to everything that they asked for. Anything that was not there, and, and -- or had been discovered in cashes or on recovery from deleted emails. They gave them everything. I think if they had something to hide, they would be fighting this legally, they would be objecting to the judicial watch release.
ROSENThey'd be pushing the State Department not to release them. They're doing the exact opposite. They are saying, please State Department, please FBI, whoever, release everything. So, you know, this notion that Hillary Clinton, more than anyone, wants the public to see them. As she said the other night, she thinks they're mostly pretty boring.
ROSENAnd so this, you know, this constant refrain that she's hiding something just doesn't bare out the facts.
YORKJust one quick note.
GJELTENWell, they certainly are, just a second, Byron.
GJELTENThere are -- certainly are listeners who agree with you, Hilary. Steve writes, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, most Americans find this whole subject a waste of time. The media is chasing email threads in an attempt to weave something sinister. Why not start at the other end, examine the State Department, see if anyone did anything criminal, and if an obvious crime -- obvious crime is there, prosecute. If not, accept the fact that things may have been jumbled but not criminal. Byron.
YORKWell just one quick...
ROSENWell Tom, it's a really point, you know, this accusation of -- that this was also somehow pay for play. How was the -- it pay for play when the pay was actually things like buying AIDS drugs for 11 million people in Africa.
GJELTENRight. Okay. All right, okay Hilary. Byron York.
YORKJust one, just one quick point on the turning over the emails and Hillary Clinton's transparency in this is that they turned over the emails that they had not already destroyed. And, in James Comey's long news conference about this, he said that there were potentially thousands of emails that they just never saw and the FBI presumably used state of the art techniques to try to recover emails. But he clearly conceded that there was probably a lot of stuff that Hillary Clinton had destroyed and they never would see.
GRIMALDII'd like to add that the FBI -- there are certain FBI agents went to the Justice Department and requested an investigation on pay to play, involving the foundation, and Hillary Clinton's actions as Secretary of State, and the Justice Department turned down that request.
GJELTENAll right, James Grimaldi, we're going to -- I'm Tom Gjelten. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And James, I want to bring to your attention this message that we got from Jonathan Marx, who is a Commercial Attache at the US Embassy in Moscow when Secretary Clinton lobbied for that Boeing sale to Russia. I helped draft a letter from her to senior Russian government officials in support of Boeing's bid. The notion that this was out of the ordinary or done as a quid pro quo is absurd.
GJELTENSecretaries of State are obligated to support US industry. Further, her letter was one of three such letters from the Secretaries of State, Transportation and Commerce. All of whom lobbied for the successful bid.
GRIMALDIWell, of course she should be lobbying the Russian government for purchase of Boeing jets. No one is saying that that is the issue. The question is the timing of the corporate participation of these various companies after Hillary Clinton did favors for the companies.
YORKAnd, actually, Hillary alluded to this before. There was concern about -- in the incoming Obama Administration about this Foundation arrangement. Hillary Clinton actually signed ethics agreements, saying that she would not take part in something, so there's this clear -- you know, Bill Clinton had essentially kind of set up a government in exile when he leaves. Presidents like to do that. They can still kind of be President. But clearly, the incoming actual President, did not want there to be a conflict of interest between Clinton Foundation interests and his own State Department.
YORKAnd so, they saw this coming, and actually...
ROSENAnd they've never suggested that there was.
YORK...had her sign agreements.
ROSENWell, they've never suggested that there has been a conflict. In fact, the State Department today consistently is saying that there -- that they can't point to a single thing that Hillary Clinton did as Secretary of State that suggests any conflict or any influence from a Clinton Foundation donor on State Department activity.
GJELTENOkay, let's go now to Susan who's on the line from North Carolina. Hello Susan. Thanks for calling.
SUSANHey, thank you Tom, for taking my call.
SUSANI respect you and your panel and especially I respect Diane Rehms. I'm extremely happy to have this opportunity.
GJELTENShe's down there in North Carolina today.
SUSANOh, this, you gotta come see my place. But anyway, let me tell you, I have a question -- I just have a statement. I don't see how any of this matters, really, for the average American voter. And I'm down here in a hot bed of Republicanism. At least that's how it looks. I have nothing to do with it. I don't see how any of this matters to the average American voter at this point. We have two parties, Democrat and Republican. We have two choices. We don't like either one of them. Neither one of them will assume that office with any dignity. Okay? So, that's a foregone conclusion.
SUSANI don't understand why we are having all these discussions about Hillary's emails, Bill Clinton's Foundation, Chelsea's babies and Trump's family and his semi, I don't...
GJELTENWell, I don't know that Chelsea's babies are a real hot political issue, but let me just throw in...
SUSANWell, they will be.
GJELTENLet me throw in my two cents. I mean, one of the things that we have seen this campaign season is that many Americans are really sick and tired of the kind of insider aspect of Washington political culture. I think we have seen that definitively, right Byron?
YORKYes, and I do believe that the McMullin, Johnson and Stein campaigns are trying to get in touch with Susan right now. Because she does appear to be one of those voters who is unhappy with the choice they have. And would be very, very happy if they had another legitimate choice for President.
GJELTENMark, we're getting to the end of the hour. Before we go, I want to look ahead to what's likely to happen next. I know that IRS, in response to a request from Republican members of Congress, have initiated some IRS investigation into the Clinton Foundation. There have also been reports that the FBI might be looking into the Foundation activities. What, what can we expect next?
LANDLERWell, and there's a couple other efforts underway. The House Republicans are going to try to get the FBI to unclassify a portion of the emails and the summaries of interviews they did with Hillary Clinton and hand it over to the Congress a couple of weeks ago. So that's information that may become public wholly or in part. And, you know, there's also an effort, I think, you know, a longshot effort to try to bring her up on perjury charges for having testified wrongly during the Benghazi hearing on some of these issues.
LANDLERSo -- but look, I think that ever since the FBI announced they weren't going to recommend any prosecution of Hillary on the email issue, the legal, the sort of immediate and darkest legal threat to her campaign was effectively lifted and I think that's why the campaign is actually not responding so hotly to the new email disclosures.
GJELTENWell, we do know that a federal judge this week asked the State Department to speed up its review of these new emails and even set out a timeline which suggests that we're going to be hearing more about the content of these emails in the weeks leading up to the election. I'd like to thank my panelists. Mark Landler from the New York Times, Byron York from the Washington Examiner, James Grimaldi from the Wall Street Journal, and Hilary Rosen, a Democratic Strategist. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is "The Diane Rehm Show." Thanks for listening.
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