Former President Bill Clinton conceded in an interview broadcast Monday that some donors may have contributed money to the Clinton Foundation in an attempt to gain influence with the family.
"Well, since we had more than 300,000 donors, it would be unusual if nobody did," Clinton told NPR host Steve Inskeep when asked whether some of the foundation’s donors had attempted to accrue favor with the former first couple should they return to the White House.
"But, the names I saw in the paper, none of them surprised me and all of them could have gotten their own meeting with Hillary," Clinton continued.
He admitted it was "natural" for personal friends or political allies "to call and ask for things," but said he trusted that the State Department under Hillary Clinton’s leadership would properly address potential conflicts of interest.
"It didn’t surprise me that people would call from time-to-time, and maybe some of them gave money for that reason, but most of them gave it because they liked what we were doing," Clinton said.
The former president pushed back on accusations of pay-to-play practices at the Clinton Foundation and charged that critics were "smearing" him and his wife.
State Department emails released earlier this month revealed that Bill Clinton’s former adviser Douglas Band, who headed the Clinton Global Initiative, attempted in 2009 to secure a special diplomatic passport reserved solely for those with diplomatic status from a top Hillary Clinton aide at the State Department.
While the State Department never issued the passport, Clinton’s former senior deputy Huma Abedin had initially accepted Band’s request.
Bill Clinton announced last month he would resign from the foundation’s board if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency to remove any concerns of overlapping interests, though he said the change would be "hard."
"I’ve had this job longer than I ever had any job, and I’ve loved it," Clinton said. "And you know, we always say in response to our critics that nobody in my family ever took a penny out of this foundation and put millions of dollars in. But I would have paid more to do this job. It was the most fun thing I’ve ever done."
The former president is hosting the final meeting of the annual Clinton Global Initiative this week after he vowed in August that he and Hillary Clinton would stop accepting foreign and corporate donations should she win the White House in November.