Clinton’s Morocco ‘mess’
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton faced renewed accusations this week that she had set up a “pay to play” system for foreign governments, after leaked emails revealed she agreed to attend a Clinton Global Initiative event last year in Morocco in exchange for a $12 million pledge from the country’s King Mohammed VI. In the emails, Clinton’s aides expressed concern that her attendance at the May 2015 event—scheduled a month after she was set to launch her presidential run—would raise criticisms she sold access to a foreign leader in exchange for a Clinton Foundation donation. “This was HRC’s idea,” wrote Huma Abedin, using Clinton’s nickname. “She created this mess and she knows it.” In the end, Clinton pulled out of the meeting, and Bill and Chelsea Clinton attended in her place. Clinton Foundation records don’t show whether the charity ultimately received the $12 million.
The hacked messages were part of more than 50,000 emails stolen from the account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta by Russian-connected hackers and released by WikiLeaks. In some emails, Podesta complains about Clinton’s political missteps—including her decision to use a private email server while secretary of state. “We’ve taken on a lot of water,” says Podesta. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts.”
What the columnists said
“Hillary Clinton has gotten very lucky in the 2016 presidential election,” said David Graham in TheAtlantic.com, and “on few items as clearly as the Clinton Foundation.” While Clinton critics obsess over her private email server, the real scandal has always been the family charity. Hillary and Bill have collected millions of dollars in personal speaking fees and Clinton Foundation donations from foreign governments and corporations seeking U.S. government access. There’s a clear pattern here, said Saagar Enjeti in DailyCaller.com. The foundation accepted millions from human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia and companies with “economic interests in decisions by Clinton’s Department of State.”
Clinton is hardly “a corrupt puppet of the Moroccan government,” said Jeff Stein in Vox.com. She wasn’t secretary of state or a presidential candidate when she made the deal and was in no position to give King Mohammed any preferential treatment. All we know is that Clinton “said she would go to an event with another head of state to raise money that was all for a charitable cause”—and then pulled out when she realized it looked bad.
True, “nothing in the exchange appears to be illegal,” said Russell Berman in TheAtlantic.com. But everyone knows these foreign heads didn’t dole out donations purely out of the goodness of their hearts; they wanted to get in a room with a possible future U.S. president. “The Moroccan episode is such a quintessentially Clinton controversy.” As Podesta hints, Bill and Hillary should know better—“and yet, convinced of their own righteousness, they do it anyway.” Given the longevity of such behavior, there’s “little hope that the next four years of a possible Clinton White House would be any different.”