Bill Clinton defends foundation, says 'nothing sinister' about it

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: May 04, 2015 23:35 IST

Former president Bill Clinton has defended foreign donations to to his foundation injecting himself into a controversy that has cast a shadow over his wife’s second presidential run.

“I don't think there's anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Clinton told NBC News from Kenya.

Foreign donations to Clinton Foundation, some time from government’s of countries with dubious records on rights, have come under close scrutiny in recent weeks.

A book, “Clinton Cash: The untold story of how and why foreign governments and businesses helped make Bill and Hillary Clinton rich” hits the stands Tuesday.

News reports based on early access to the book have linked donations to, one, Russian takeover of US uranium mines, and, two, Hillary Clinton changing stand on India-US nuclear deal.

The foundation has denied any link between donations and Clinton’s actions as senator — during the nuclear deal — and then as secretary of state, during the uranium mines deal.

Now the former president, who is often described as the explainer-in-chief, has jumped in himself: “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy,” said Clinton.

The New York Times recently reported that the former president received $500,000 for a speech in Moscow in 2010, around the time Russia’s Rosatom moved to take majority stake in Uranium One, which owned uranium mines in the US and thus needed clearance from a multi-agency body of which state department was a member — Clinton was secretary of state then.

She is now one of the two people running for the Democratic ticket for the 2016 presidential race. The other is Bernie Sanders, currently independent senator from Vermont.

Though considered the inevitable Democratic nominee, Clinton has seen her popularity ratings drop steadily from the time she left office as secretary of state in 2012.

She had looked indomitable then. Not so, any more. An AP-GfK poll released Friday showed that among Democrats, only 34% said they were excited by her candidacy.

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