Clinton Dodges Questions on 'Pay-to-Play' Allegations Surrounding State Department, Clinton Foundation

October 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton dodged questions at Wednesday night's debate about the pay-to-play allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation and the access its donors got to her State Department, pivoting to talking points about its charitable achievements.

Records showed foundation donors made up a significant percentage of the private parties Clinton met with as secretary of state. Another example of access was favorable treatment given to "Friends of Bill," referring to Clinton's husband, after the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

"During your 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, you promised to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with your dealing with the Clinton Foundation while you were secretary of state," moderator Chris Wallace said. "But emails show that donors got special access to you. Those seeking grants for Haiti relief were considered separately from non-donors, and some of those donors got government contracts ... Can you really say that you kept your pledge to that Senate committee ... Why isn't it what Mr. Trump calls pay-to-play?"

Clinton said everything she did as secretary of state "was in furtherance of our country's interests and our values," before saying she was "thrilled" to talk about the Clinton Foundation's charitable work. As she began to rattle off talking points about its achievements, Wallace interrupted.

"The specific question went to pay-for-play," Wallace said. "Do you want to address that?"

Clinton and Trump began talking over each other, with Trump calling the foundation a "criminal enterprise" and mentioning the foreign countries with checkered human rights records donating to the charity while Clinton ran the State Department.

Trump suggested Clinton return money to countries that "treat certain groups of people so horribly" like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

She again praised the Clinton Foundation's charitable activities and did not ever address Wallace's question.