Bill Clinton defends Clinton Foundation’s work

In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Cynthia McFadden, Bill Clinton defended the Clinton Foundation’s work, and he argued that the charity had never done anything “knowingly inappropriate.” Bill Clinton also expressed “no regrets” about accepting foreign cash, noting that the money was being put to good use to help people all around the world. Bill Clinton says he has no regrets about taking millions in foreign cash for his foundation, even though the donations have caused a political headache for Hillary Clinton as she tries to follow him into the Oval Office.

Under pressure, the foundation recently announced it will only accept contributions from six Western governments going forward, but Clinton says that's no acknowledgment the old policy, under which Saudi Arabia gave between $10 million and $25 million, for instance, was a mistake. The 42nd president says he is "proud" of his foundation's work.

"There has never been anything like the Clinton Global Initiative," he said, "where you've raised over $100 billion worth of stuff that helped 43 million people in 180 countries." He was talking about good works like the Wings to Fly program that has helped 10,000 poor kids in Kenya attend high school. The program has been a whopping success, with 94 percent of the kids graduating and 98 percent of them going on to college.

The foundation is involved in a vast array of projects, from a vaccination center in Tanzania to an elephant research center in the Samburu District of Kenya. They headed to Liberia, where they helped the government combat HIV/AIDS and coordinated delivery of medical equipment and supplies during the Ebola epidemic. In Nairobi, he and his daughter Chelsea personally helped fit a group of children with hearing aids in support of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which went from providing 50,000 of the devices a year to 175,000 with assistance from Clinton's group.

But Bill Clinton says he's not worried about the criticism, brushing it off as "political." He quoted his wife as telling him: "No one has ever tried to influence me by helping you." Throughout the interview, Clinton repeatedly turned to the question of transparency, declaring that his foundation discloses more about the source of its donations than those of other ex-presidents.

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February 20, 2018, 1:09 am
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