All-Star Panel: Does Clinton accepting money from foreign gov'ts matter?

'Special Report' All-star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 19, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA:  It's very unwise for Hillary Clinton to be associated with a foundation that is taking millions of dollars from foreign governments.  This isn't just the appearance of a conflict of interest. It's a real conflict of interest.

DANIEL HALPER, WEEKLY STANDARD: The question is, is what has the foundation been spending their money on, because it doesn't appear to be charity. Their defense is we are a charity. People can do good work, and if they're foreigners and they want to do good work through us, we'll take it. But if you look at their charitable givings, they're actually very, very low. It's under 10 percent of their budget, or of the money that they've raised has actually gone out to charitable givings.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The Clinton Foundation under the name Bill and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton has accepted some $2 billion in donations and pledges, much of it coming from foreign governments and foreign individuals since 2001.  Here's what they say about it, quote, "The Clinton Foundation is a philanthropy, period...The Clinton foundation has strong donor integrity and transparency practices that go above and beyond what's required of U.S. charities and well beyond the practices of most peer organizations. This includes the voluntary, full disclosure of all donors on our website for anyone to see." We're back with the panel judge. Judge, how big a deal is this?

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I think it's a very, very big deal. Even if everything that their spokesman, whose statement they just read, is true, these other charities do not have as one of their main members the former secretary of state of the United States who was the secretary of state dealing with foreign governments while those same governments were being solicited by her husband for a fortune and while some of them actually paid her husband a fortune. If that's not a conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

And if any of it, if any of the money that Bill received, not personally but into the foundation, influenced any of the decisions she made as the secretary of state, you have a potential felony on your hands.

BAIER: Well, you know, the White House, the Obama White House, said no, this is not going to happen during secretary of state. It stopped for some time, and now the spigot is back on. And it seems like as a likely nominee for the Democratic Party it could be a problem.

LIASSON: Well, I think it could. I think this is going to be a vein of research for her opponents and we're not going to hear the end for a very long time. My understanding is that before she ran for president they really wanted to get the foundation's finances in order. It actually had been a little wobbly for a little while and they fixed the management structure, and they want to pump in a whole lot of money before she runs for president.

Now, I find it hard to believe that their lawyers, the foundation lawyers and her lawyers, haven't been telling her what pitfalls to avoid.  I mean, this is -- you know, pretty extraordinary, because now every investigative journalist in America is going to be looking for some kind of a quid pro quo or something that these governments got in exchange.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Like the invasion of Mosul, what's missing here is the element of surprise. This is how the Clintons operate. They've always been right at the edge from the cattle futures 25 years ago until today, where they walked the line where you would imagine that no other politicians would walk the line. The reason is they've gotten away with it.

I think it is quite amazing that she would pretend, or they would pretend, a spokesman pretends, this is a charity. What we do is hand out mosquito nets. Who can oppose that? But that is not exactly why the government of Qatar is giving all this money. It's not because it wants to actually cure malaria in parts of Africa. It could do that without using the Clinton Foundation if it wanted. This is obviously a way of exerting influence over the Clintons and having them in their sort of obligated, and its influence purchasing. This has been the story of the Clintons ever since. It is nothing but a continuation of it.

BAIER: Judge, IRS documents show $8 million-plus in 2013 for travel that the foundation paid for.

NAPOLITANO: Well, I don't know how many flights that is and how many human beings are involved. If it's some extraordinary, luxurious use of a Donald Trump-like airplane for Bill and Hillary, particularly if she used it while she was secretary of state, you have very serious problems because these charities have guidelines about how much money they can spend on their executives.

BAIER: Does this, Mara, bring up the draft Elizabeth Warren group a little bit to more prominence?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, I think the draft Elizabeth Warren group has a lot of energy behind it. This might add a little bit. But, it really all depends if Elizabeth Warren is willing to be drafted and make this case. You can imagine the argument that Elizabeth Warren can make against Hillary. It's almost a readymade script. But she has to decide she wants to do it.

BAIER: They did meet privately.

LIASSON: They did meet privately. It certainly sounded like the results of that meeting was that Elizabeth Warren said once again what she said in public, which is she has no plans to run for president. But if somebody, a populist Democratic candidate, and she is the number one populist Democrat right now, would want to take this on, she could.

KRAUTHAMMER: Every one of these stumbles, including the stumbling at her launch, is an invitation to the Democrats that they really ought to have another candidate. But the requirement is not going to produce that other candidate and I don't see anybody yet emerging. I'm not sure anybody yet will.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for some analysis on the vice president's most recent Biden moment raising eyebrows.

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