In Atlanta, Bill Clinton defends Clinton Foundation as Donald Trump turns up the heat

President Bill Clinton says hello to Megan Bartlett and her 3-month-old daughter Hannah Rice, Decatur, as he works the crowd at historic Manuel's Tavern on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, during a stop in Atlanta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

President Bill Clinton says hello to Megan Bartlett and her 3-month-old daughter Hannah Rice, Decatur, as he works the crowd at historic Manuel’s Tavern on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, during a stop in Atlanta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Former President Bill Clinton pushed back on a report Wednesday that linked Hillary Clinton’s meetings while secretary of state to the Clinton Foundation’s donors.

At a stop at Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta before a fundraiser, the former president sought to downplay an Associated Press report that found more than half the people outside the government who met with his wife at the State Department gave money to the foundation.

“We’re trying to do good things. If there’s something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don’t know what it is,” said Bill Clinton. “The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say, except I’m really proud of the work they’ve done.”

Republican Donald Trump has seized on the report as an indicator of the ethics challenges the Democrat faces, saying she’s made “lie after lie” to cover up breaches. He and his surrogates, including Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue, have called for a special prosecutor to investigate the meetings as well as the private email server she used while in office.

“Actions speak louder than words, and this is just another example of Hillary Clinton’s questionable ethics and integrity,” said Perdue. “Whether you are the Secretary of State, or want to be the Commander-in-Chief, pay-to-play politics is wrong.”

Clinton’s campaign has said the report was flawed because it didn’t include meetings with foreign diplomats or other U.S. government officials. And her allies have sought to trumpet the work the foundation does to combat childhood obesity and bolster international health initiatives.

Bill Clinton on Wednesday said some of the donors, such as Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunis, have no trouble getting meetings with top diplomats and leaders.

Former President Bill Clinton at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta. AJC/Greg Bluestein

Former President Bill Clinton at Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta. AJC/Greg Bluestein

 

 

He also repeated his pledge not to raise money for the foundation if Hillary Clinton wins the November contest and to stop accepting foreign donations. He added that he is looking to transition some of the foundation’s roles to other nonprofits if his wife wins, but he doesn’t want it to hinder any ongoing projects or jeopardize the jobs of the foundation’s employees.

“I’m happy to do the transition as swiftly as we can, and we’ve already found partners who are going to take over some of this stuff,” he said. “But we have to do it in a way where no one loses their job, no one loses their income, no one loses their life.”

The visit came ahead of a fundraiser at a north Atlanta home that features Atlanta artist Usher.


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