Washington (AFP): Donald Trump on Monday demanded that Hillary Clinton shut down the charitable foundation run by her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, branding it a “corrupt enterprise.”
“The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people,” the Republican presidential candidate said in a statement.
“It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history,” Trump said, blasting the charity, which has raised some two billion dollars over the years.
Speaking Monday on Fox News, Trump said the foundation had received financial contributions from various countries “that discriminated against women and gays and everybody else.”
That remark was an apparent allusion to various nations seen as having checkered histories on human rights, Saudi Arabia among them, that made generous donations to the foundation while Clinton served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.
“I mean, that money — it should be given back. they should not take that money,” Trump told Fox.
The Clinton Foundation, created by the former president in 2001 after his departure from the White House, disburses funds domestically and overseas, handing out some 218 million dollars in 2014.
But questions have been raised about possible conflicts of interest while Clinton, currently the Democratic presidential nominee, worked as a public servant in the Obama administration.
A firewall was supposed to have been in place to ensure that the foundation’s work remained completely separate from Hillary Clinton’s role as head of US diplomacy, but critics said that that barrier has been permeable at best.
Concerns were raised anew after emails surfaced recently showing that a close aide to Bill Clinton contacted two senior aides of Hillary Clinton’s at the State Department, seeking their assistance in helping a donor — Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury — secure a meeting with a US diplomat in Lebanon.
Bill Clinton sought to tamp down the controversy last week, announcing that, if his wife is elected president in November, he would no longer accept foreign or corporate donations, and would step away from the board of the foundation.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager, told CNN on Sunday that the additional safeguards were “unprecedented… in terms of disclosure and limits.”
Mook also urged the public to keep in mind the “important, lifesaving work” that it has done over the years.
“Over 10 million people around the world get important AIDS medication, lifesaving AIDS and HIV medication because of the foundation,” Mook said, adding that “the foundation has reduced the cost of malaria drugs by 90 percent.”