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Tampa Bay Times Editorial: Clintons Should Break Clean from The Foundation

The Tampa Bay Times writes about revelations of overlapping connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Hillary Clinton-led State Department:

After Donald Trump charged last week in Tampa that Hillary Clinton used the Clinton Foundation to sell access to herself as secretary of state, the crowd chanted, “Lock her up!” The Clinton campaign simultaneously pushed back hard to news reports about interactions between the State Department and foundation staff and donors. The reality is somewhere between Trump’s reckless charges and the Clinton camp’s righteous indignation — but the intersections between the foundation, its donors and the State Department continue to raise legitimate questions about the Democratic nominee’s judgment.

There is a steady drip of revelations about overlapping connections between the foundation and the State Department while Clinton was secretary of state that undermine the declaration before she took that job that there would be clear lines. State Department emails released to the conservative group Judicial Watch show there were often communications between the State Department and supporters and donors to the Clinton Foundation. Among the examples: Foundation donor and Slim-Fast billionaire S. Daniel Abraham apparently got a State Department meeting; a Clinton ally intervened on behalf of the crown prince of Bahrain for a meeting; and another foundation donor sought help for a British soccer player with a criminal record who wanted a visa.

Those communications don’t necessarily add up to special treatment. The crown prince of Bahrain likely would have gotten a meeting anyway, the soccer player’s request went nowhere, and U2’s Bono got no help in trying to beam a concert to the International Space Station. As a State Department spokesman said last week, there was no ban on State Department officials besides Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation. But that also suggests the ethics rules Clinton agreed to before becoming secretary of state should have been stronger.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that 85 of 154 people not tied to government whom Clinton met with or had phone conversations scheduled with had given money to the Clinton Foundation. Those included Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and Estee Lauder executives. Clinton and her allies strongly criticized the report, noting it covered less than half of her tenure as secretary of state and did not take into account more than 1,700 meetings with world leaders. There is no smoking gun here that suggests anything illegal, and Trump’s call for a special prosecutor is entirely without merit.

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