Benenson Won't Acknowledge His Earlier Criticism of Clinton Foundation Accepting Foreign Donations

November 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton campaign strategist Joel Benenson wouldn't acknowledge on Sunday emails released by WikiLeaks showing him voicing concern in 2015 over the potentially "unseemly" Clinton Foundation acceptance of donations from foreign governments.

Benenson, two months before Clinton would announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination, worried she would be "very vulnerable" to criticisms over the donations, the Free Beacon reported:

Joel Benenson, now Clinton’s senior strategist, acknowledged in February 2015 that the former secretary of state would be "very vulnerable" to attacks over the Clinton Foundation’s foreign contributions, which he said would be viewed as "unseemly" by Republicans and some Democrats, according to a hacked email chain released Tuesday by WikiLeaks.

Benenson, who was reacting to a Wall Street Journal article about increasing foreign gifts to the foundation two months before the official launch of her campaign, suggested that the foundation "immediately" stop accepting such contributions.

Benenson, as has been standard among Clinton aides asked about the hacked emails, refused to "authenticate" the messages that appear to have been leaked by Russian interests.

"I'm not going to authenticate any of those emails we know were hacked through Russian interference," he said. "What the Clintons have said is they've announced the steps they will take if Hillary Clinton is elected president ... This foundation helps millions of people around the world."

"So you don't think it's unseemly?" Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked.

"I think that the Clintons have announced what steps they would take if she is elected on Tuesday, which I believe she will be, about the steps they will take to change the way the foundation will operate if she's president of the United States," he said.

As he again listed off the charity's good works, Wallace interrupted.

"But that was still true in 2015 and you called in unseemly," Wallace said.

"Well, I said I'm not going to authenticate any of these emails that were hacked by Russians," Benenson said. "I'm going to talk about what the foundation has done, and how they've addressed what they will do going forward."