Veteran journalist Charlie Rose told Bill Clinton he was "trying to be as helpful here as I can" with getting out the former president’s message about the Clinton Foundation during their interview that aired Monday night.
Clinton became irritated when Rose continually pressed him on his eponymous PBS program on allegations that donors to the foundation were given meetings and favors from the State Department when Hillary Clinton was in charge there. As an example, one 2009 email showed a top Clinton Foundation official setting up a meeting between a billionaire donor and the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.
"First of all, meetings are set up all the time," Clinton said. "Members of Congress do that all the time. Members of the White House do that all the time. The White House actually has a political director, and they can do it all the time. The secretary of state is out of elected politics. In every case I read about, Hillary knew the person involved and had for years."
Clinton said not one illicit action had been proven and complained that the entire interview on Rose’s titular program was focusing on that topic.
"All this stuff has been dragged out," he said. "And not one example, not even one, of something wrong happening has been cited, but millions of dollars gets spent. And look what you’re doing, Charlie. Playing the same old game."
"No, I’m not playing the same old game," Rose said.
"We spent this whole interview talking about this," Clinton said.
Rose said he guessed Clinton did want to talk about the foundation, to "set the record straight," citing that Clinton had apologized in the past for things he felt went wrong during the administration, such as failing to act quickly enough regarding the Rwandan genocide.
"When you seem to believe that there was a mistake—" Rose said.
"I say it," Clinton said.
"You say it," Rose said. "Rwanda would be one example. Mass incarceration was another. You have said things happened that I disagree with … So you’re now saying—"
"I did that a year-and-a-half ago," Clinton said.
"Fair enough," Rose said defensively. "I’m trying to be as helpful here as I can in terms of making sure we understand what you’re saying."
Rose said Clinton’s summary seemed to be there was nothing to apologize for and the foundation had been as transparent as possible.
"We have been as transparent as we can be, and we’ve been more transparent than any other foundation, more transparent than any other foundation has ever been asked to be," Clinton said.
He repeated that "to the best of my knowledge," no one got anything from the State Department for supporting the foundation.
"If they did, and it was inappropriate, I would say that was wrong, too," Clinton said. "I have proved that I’m not averse to apologizing for things that I think were wrong."