Read the full text of Hillary Clinton’s phone interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper from Wednesday night.
Cooper asks the Democratic presidential candidate why it was okay for her to accept foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while Secretary of State but she has since vowed not to accept them if she is elected President.
Transcript via CNN:
COOPER: Hold that thought. Joining us now by phone is Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Thanks very much, Secretary Clinton for being with us.
Hillary Clinton, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK.
COOPER: First of all, just a few minutes ago at a campaign rally in Mississippi, Secretary Clinton, Donald Trump called you a bigot. He’s been calling your policies bigoted. Tonight, he actually called you a bigot. How do you respond to that?
CLINTON: Oh, Anderson, it reminds me of that great saying that Maya Angelou had that when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. And Donald Trump has shown us who he is. And we ought to believe him. He is taking a hate movement mainstream. He’s brought it into his campaign. He is bringing it to our communities and our country.
And, you know, someone has questioned the citizenship of the first African-American president who has courted white supremacists, who’s been sued for housing discrimination against communities of color, who has attacked a judge for his Mexican heritage and promised a mass deportation force, is someone who is, you know, very much peddling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia. I will have more to say about this tomorrow when I gave a speech in Reno.
COOPER: Well, let me ask you about something else Donald Trump has said that you’ve been peddling. He also said today “that you sold favors and access in exchange for cash” from people who donate to the Clinton Foundation. Now, I know you point to the life saving work for the foundation that the foundation’s done over the years, getting low cost HIV drugs and other things. I know you denied the charges that Mr. Trump is making there. But at the very least, there is an appearance of a conflict of interest for the foundation. You’ve agreed to make if you’re elected. Why not just make those changes now? Have your husband step away from the foundation now?
CLINTON: Well, first, what Trump has said is ridiculous. My work as secretary of state was not influenced by the outside forces. I made policy decisions based on what I thought was right that keep Americans safe and to protect U.S. interests abroad. No wild political attacks by Donald Trump is going to change that.
And in fact the State Department has said itself that there is no evidence of any kind of impropriety at all.
[21:40:10] Now, I think it’s important to recognize that the foundation which does do life-saving work, and is so well-respected here in our country and around the world has been doing this work for a number of years. And in 2009, they took steps that went above and beyond all legal requirements and, indeed, all standard requirements followed by every other charitable organization, voluntarily disclosing donors, significantly reducing sources of funding, even to the point of, you know, of those funding being involved in providing medication to treat HIV/AIDS.
And I think that the announcements that the foundation has made really reflect its desire to continue as much of its important work as possible, but to do it in a way that provide great disclosure. And although, none of this is legally required, the steps go further than the policies that were in place when I was secretary of state.
And it’s important to remember, Anderson, the foundation is a charity. Neither my husband nor I have ever drawn a salary from it. You know more about the foundation than you know about anything concerning Donald Trump’s wealth, his business, his tax returns. I think it’s quite remarkable. His refusal to release his tax returns is even more …
COOPER: Well, let me ask.
CLINTON: … concerning. Even the recent news that his business are hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to big banks, including the state-owned Bank of China and business groups who are tied to the Kremlin.
So, yes, we did provide a lot of life-saving work. I’m proud of the work that my husband started. And we did, we provided a massive amount of information.
COOPER: But why was it OK …
HILLARY: And Donald Trump doesn’t release his tax returns and is indebted to foreign banks and foreign lenders.
COOPER: Why was it OK for the Clinton Foundation to accept foreign donations when you were secretary of state but it wouldn’t be OK if you were president?
CLINTON: Well, what we did when I was secretary of state, as I said, went above and beyond anything that was required, anything that any charitable organization has to do. Now, obviously, if I am president, there will be some unique circumstances and that’s why the foundation has laid out additional …
COOPER: But didn’t those unique circumstances exist when you were secretary of state?
CLINTON: … if I am elected.
COOPER: Didn’t those unique circumstances exist …
CLINTON: No, no. And, you know, look, Anderson, I know there’s a lot of smoke and there’s no fire. This A.P. report, put in it context, this excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders, with countless other meetings with U.S. government officials when I was secretary of state. It looked at a small portion of my time. And it draws a conclusion and made a suggestion that my meetings with people like the late great Elie Wiesel or Melinda Gates or the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus were somehow due to connections with the foundation instead of their status as highly respected global leaders. That is absurd. These are people I was proud to meet with, to any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights.
COOPER: Let me ask you, according to “The New York Times” report, you told FBI investigators that former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised you to use a personal e-mail account. His response to that this past weekend was reportedly, “Her people are trying to pin it on me.” “The truth is, she was using,” he’s talking about the private e- mail server, “for a year, before I sent her a memo telling her what did I,” he’s talking about the private e-mail account. Did you say that to FBI investigators? And is Secretary Powell right, were you using this private e-mail server prior to your conversation with him?
CLINTON: Well, look, I have the utmost respect for Secretary Powell. And he was incredibly gracious and helpful after I was nominated and before I took the job. I appreciated the time he took when I was preparing to become secretary. And I valued his advice. I’m not going to relitigate in public my private conversations with him.
I’ve been asked many, many questions in the past year about e-mails. And what I’ve learned is that when I try to explain what happened it can sound like I’m trying to excuse what I did. And there are no excuses. I want people to know that the decision to have a single e- mail account was mine. I take responsibility for it. I’ve apologized for it. I would certainly do differently if I could.
[21:45:12] But obviously, I’m grateful the justice department concluded there was no basis to pursue this matter further. And, I believe, the public will be and is considering my full record and experience as they consider their choice for president.
COOPER: Donald Trump is now indicating he would allow some illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Early on, during the primaries, you well know he talked about 11 million undocumented immigrants, they all have to get out, the good ones can come back in, in his words. He’s now told Fox News he would work with people if they paid back taxes. He says that’s not amnesty. They wouldn’t get a path to citizenship. What do you make what appears to be quite a big shift by him on this if this, in fact, is his policy moving forward?
CLINTON: Well, you know, my understanding is that the comment you just referred to was the third different position he took yesterday on immigration. Somebody has told him, I guess, the latest people that he is consulting, how damaging his statements have been, how terrible his deportation plan is, how offensive his views on immigrants have been from the very first day of his campaign. So, he’s trying to do, you know, kind of a shuffle here.
But I think, we need to look at the entire context. We need to believe him when he bullies and threatens to throw out every immigrant in the country. And, certainly, when he changes his position three times in one day, it sends a message that it’s just a desperate effort to try to land somewhere that isn’t as, you know, devastating to his campaign as his comments and his positions have been up until now.
COOPER: Finally, Secretary Clinton, you haven’t done a press conference in more than 260 days in terms of your public appearances, your media strategy, this report in POLITICO that indicates your allies believe by keeping a low profile, a relativity low profile. You can essentially run out the clock on Trump, keep the focus on Trump. How do you respond to that? Will you give a press conference?
CLINTON: Well, Anderson, I’m talking to you right now. And I’ve given, I think, way in excess of 300 interviews this year. So I’m going to continue talking with the press and answering questions and many different …
COOPER: Why not give a press conference though with a lot of different reporters?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I mean, I’ve got a lot that I have been sharing with the press, talking to the press as I’m doing with you right now. So, you know, stay tuned, there’ll be a lot of different opportunities for me to talk to the press as well as continuing to talk to the American public.
COOPER: We appreciate you talking to us tonight. But I know a lot of other reporters who would love a chance to talk to address you during a press conference so I’m throwing that out there. Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.
CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you, Anderson. Bye-bye.