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Clinton On Foundation Donors: ‘Not Like I’m President & They Can Get Something Out Of It’

Bill Clinton admitted in 2006 that donor funds would be completely suspect if the foundations’ namesakes were in positions of high power. Uh-oh.


Former President Bill Clinton turned 60 back in 2006. To commemorate this most important occasion, the Clinton Foundation had a series of fundraisers spread over several months. His actual birthday is August 19. Parties were held in various cities and countries. The celebration culminated in a star-studded, three-day affair in late October that began with cocktails at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, continued at brunch at Pastis (for donors to the Clinton Foundation who coughed up more than $100,000 and raised $250,000), a party at the Museum of Natural History, a round of golf, and, finally, a Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theater. If you gave more than $500,000, you got a backstage pass.

The birthday party was co-hosted by Chelsea Clinton and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The Canadian birthday party was held on September 9 in Toronto. It was a smaller affair, raising only $20 million. Tables sold for $200,000 and less. The event featured Kevin Spacey, Paul Shaffer, Billy Crystal, Sarah McLachlan, Tim McGraw, and James Taylor (liberals lurve James Taylor). Diners ate beef tenderloin and lobster tails and sipped on Veuve Clicquot.

At the end of the meal, President Clinton gave some remarks. And it was this portion that caught the eye of one @morgenr, a researcher.

Here’s a link to the speech.

The relevant passage is:

When I thought my political career was over, I could never do anything for anybody else again, people like Frank Giustra show up and start helping me when I can’t do anything back for them any more. It’s not like I’m President and they can get something out of it. So I thank you for that.

There are three major problems with this.

Could he have picked a worse example than Frank Giustra?

We’ve been discussing the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) recently because that group, which funds the very similarly-named Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, had been concealing foreign donors and claiming Canadian law forced them to. This was not true.

In 2008, the New York Times (“After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton“) detailed how Giustra became a tremendously wealthy man precisely because he “got something out of” his relationship with Bill Clinton:

Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton vouched to Kazakhstan strongman President Nursultan Nazarbayev for Giustra. And just by chance, the strongman guy received Bill Clinton’s enthusiastic support for his bid to head a group that monitors elections. This contradicted U.S. foreign policy regarding Kazakhstan’s abysmal human rights record. Not two days after Clinton greased the skids did nothing illegal that you can prove, Giustra signed agreements to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency. The New York Times reports that the “monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra.”

And then, totally a coinkydink but, just a few months later, Giustra gave $31.3 million to the Clintons and pledged a total of $100 million!

Which shows that you don’t have to be president to add value

Bill Clinton was able to move mountains to help Giustra, who happened to become a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. And he did that even though he wasn’t president. So let’s revisit the Washington Post’s blockbuster recent story about the Clinton Foundation taking cash money from countries Hillary Clinton was doing official business with while she was secretary of state:

The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t president, but she was secretary of state, a position with enormous power and influence over foreign policy and related defense and infrastructure contracts. The reason why people are concerned with the cashflow during her tenure in office is precisely because of the power she wielded in the position, even though she wasn’t president.

And, finally, guess who’s running for president

So Bill Clinton says that he thinks it’s so cool that Giustra gave him huge piles of cash even though “It’s not like I’m President and they can get something out of it.”

We’ve shown how that’s a stupid point on account of how you don’t need to be president to help out donors. But think of what he’s admitting here. He’s admitting that if someone were president, people might give them money just to get goodies out of it. The honesty of that admission is welcome. Particularly from a Clinton.

Hillary Clinton is running for president. Her chances aren’t even bad. The Clinton Foundation is raking in money hand over fist from people who presumably are aware of this. “It’s not like I’m President and they can get something out of it,” right, Bill? But if you — or your wife — were president, they could, right?