We're mad as hell about Trump, Clinton and the Clinton Foundation

Clinton on defense over Clinton Foundation
Clinton on defense over Clinton Foundation

    JUST WATCHED

    Clinton on defense over Clinton Foundation

MUST WATCH

Clinton on defense over Clinton Foundation 03:45

Story highlights

  • Richard Davis and Ira Millstein say Hillary Clinton needs to take steps to fight the perception that the Clinton Foundation is an ethical minefield
  • A ban on contributions from foreign governments and limitations on corporations should go into effect immediately, they say

Richard J. Davis is a New York lawyer and former assistant Watergate special prosecutor. Ira M. Millstein is a New York lawyer and expert on corporate governance. The opinions expressed in this commentary are theirs.

(CNN)We are mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore, to cite an expression from a famous scene in the movie "Network. "

Ira Millstein
Richard Davis
The initial source of our anger is the controversy over the Clinton Foundation. First, we are mad at the extraordinary hypocrisy of Donald Trump and his acolytes who pretend that significant political donors do not routinely get access to those they support.
We are also mad at the Clintons, who are not doing everything possible to resolve the debate about their foundation to make certain that an extraordinarily unqualified demagogue does not use it to become president of the United States.
    And we are mad at the Republican Party, which by nominating such an unqualified person to be president, has made it impossible for the US to have the kind of serious debate on issues that the country needs and deserves.
    There certainly can be many fair complaints about how the Clinton Foundation raised money while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Accepting large donations from foreign governments and anyone with business before the State Department were clearly poor judgments, creating real appearance issues.
    The notion advanced by Trump, however, that some major donors being granted the opportunity to meet with Secretary Clinton or others means that she was corrupt is the height of hypocrisy. While we may not like the system, significant donors and others who help a candidate get elected have always had greater access to those they helped elect and have gained introductions to government officials. (And a contribution to a charity is not as direct a benefit to an officeholder as is a contribution to that person's campaign.)
    Can Rudy Giuliani, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell or, indeed, any of our elected officials say that significant donors and supporters have not had greater access to them and other officials than they would otherwise have received? Do we really think that friends and supporters of Donald Trump would not have special access to a Trump administration?
    Do large donors to the RNC or the DNC receive access to officials of the government as well as to elected Republicans and Democrats? Of course -- or are we blind to reality? Trump himself said in a GOP debate in August 2015 that he gave to politicians so they would be "there for me" later on.
    This has been true in our political system, even before the most recent flow of large amounts of dollars through so called independent expenditures, and it is true today. It is only corrupt when it's linked to an official act, such as alleged in the cases involving New York's legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. There has been no link shown in the case of the foundation.
    The notion that the foundation is somehow a sham is also simply not true. The Clinton Foundation has funded numerous worthwhile efforts, including in the areas of global health, economic development and climate change. Among its other programs are also those aimed at improving the lives of girls and women around the world.
    We are also, however, mad at the Clintons. Faced with an election where it is critical that Hillary Clinton win and that the country not have to endure the presidency of an unqualified demagogue, she needs to do whatever is necessary to avoid such a result.
    No matter what the polls say today, given the negative views of her held by so many, a Clinton victory is far from assured. And issues surrounding the foundation are an election issue. While some positive steps have been taken to address the issues associated with the foundation by limiting future contributions that could create appearance issues and having Bill Clinton step off the board, other steps are necessary.
    These added steps, which have been suggested by others, including The New York Times, are particularly important, given the widespread questioning of her character:
    1. Chelsea Clinton, not just Bill Clinton, should resign from the board if Hillary Clinton becomes president. If the foundation is going to continue to operate and raise large sums from anyone it cannot be seen as a family enterprise of the sitting president. Neither Bill nor Chelsea Clinton should have any role in the foundation during a Clinton presidency.
    2. A bar on contributions from foreign governments and limitations on corporations should go into effect immediately. With Hillary Clinton a candidate for the presidency, suspending acceptance of such contributions now avoids the risk of a flood of contributions shortly before the election, which would only create more appearance issues.
    Follow CNN Opinion

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    3. The foundation should devote meaningful time and resources to making sure the American public understands the positive things it has done. Having surrogates like James Carville ranting about people dying if the foundation closes is both ineffective, and, indeed, counterproductive.
    Our country faces enormous challenges and presidential elections should provide voters with the opportunity to choose between competing views about how those challenges should be addressed.
    We are Democrats, but strongly believe it is important that both parties nominate for president only those who are truly qualified to assume the enormous responsibilities of that office. When a party nominates someone as unqualified as Donald Trump by virtue of his temperament, personal character and lack of knowledge and experience, there can be no meaningful debate about the issues. The only way to avoid the disaster of a Trump presidency is to vote for Hillary Clinton.
    In short, while we may not like it, the country has long countenanced a world where big donors get more access. We are mad at those hypocrites who pretend otherwise, we are mad at a candidate who won't adequately correct an appearance issue which raises doubts about her own character, and we are mad at a system which has produced someone like Donald Trump as a nominee of a major political party.