WASHINGTON: Donald Trump has demanded that Hillary Clinton shut down the charitable foundation founded by her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, branding it a “corrupt enterprise.”
The Republican presidential candidate also called for a special prosecutor to investigate his Democratic rival, accusing the FBI and Justice Department of a “whitewash” during their probe of her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
“The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant number of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately,” Trump told a rally in Akron, Ohio, speaking of the State Department under Clinton.
The crowd responded with rowdy chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
In an earlier statement, Trump called the Clinton Foundation “the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”
The charity has raised some $2 billion since it was founded in 2001 after Bill Clinton left office.
“It must be shut down immediately,” Trump said.
The Republican nominee said the foundation had received financial contributions from various countries “that discriminated against women and gays and everybody else.”
That remark apparently referred to various nations seen as having checkered histories on human rights, Saudi Arabia among them, that made generous donations to the foundation when Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.
“I mean, that money — it should be given back. They should not take that money,” Trump told Fox.
James Carville, Bill Clinton’s top strategist in his ultimately successful campaign for the presidency in the 1990s, warned of dire consequences should Trump and his supporters manage to shutter the foundation.
“There will be people that are gonna die because of this,” Carville told CNN, estimating that the foundation helped around 10 million people get access to low-cost HIV drugs.
“All of the people that helped shut it down will say, ‘Gee, some people, a million people, had to die, but we had to prove a point,'” Carville said.
The Clinton Foundation disburses funds domestically and overseas, handing out some $218 million in 2014.
A firewall was supposed to have been in place to ensure that the foundation’s work remained completely separate from Hillary Clinton’s role as head of US diplomacy, but critics said that barrier was permeable at best.
Meanwhile, nearly 15,000 emails Hillary Clinton sent from her private server while secretary of state were released, and raised fresh concerns about potential conflicts of interest between the foundation and her service as the top US diplomat.
Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has targeted Clinton for years, released the emails, including some purporting to show that various donors to the Clinton Foundation had lobbied one of her top aides, Huma Abedin, for access to the former first lady.
The emails were made public by a judge after the group filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The newly released email exchanges appeared to show that a rich donor, Casey Wasserman, asked Bill Clinton aide Doug Band to contact Abedin for help in setting up a meeting with diplomatic officials in London, raising fresh questions about special favors for top Clinton Foundation donors.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had handed over about 14,900 new emails to the department, both personal and government-related, that would be made public.
“There was nothing that we have seen that implied any kind of untoward relationship” giving a donor to the Foundation privileged access to the then-secretary of state, he said.
Concerns were recently revived after emails surfaced showing that Band had contacted two senior State Department aides of Hillary Clinton, seeking their assistance in helping a donor — Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury — to secure a meeting with a US diplomat in Lebanon.
Bill Clinton sought to tamp down the controversy, announcing last week that — if his wife is elected president in November — the Clinton Foundation would no longer accept foreign or corporate donations, and he would step down from the board.
The former president said additional measures would also be taken under a Hillary Clinton presidency to make sure some programs are continued independently.
“Much of the foundation’s international work, like that of most global NGOs, is funded in part by donor governments’ bilateral aid programs. If Hillary is elected, we will transition those programs out of the foundation to other organizations committed to continuing their work,” Bill Clinton said.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager, told CNN on Sunday that the additional safeguards were “unprecedented… in terms of disclosure and limits.” AFP