Bill Clinton: 'Natural' for foundation donors to seek favors

Did Foundation Donors Buy Access to Hillary Clinton?_00034520
Did Foundation Donors Buy Access to Hillary Clinton?_00034520

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Story highlights

  • Bill Clinton addressed criticism of the Clinton Foundation in an interview with NPR
  • The former president says he "trusted" that the State Department would manage potential conflicts of interest

(CNN)Former President Bill Clinton sought to address concerns about his family's namesake foundation in an interview Monday, admitting that while "it was natural" for donors to seek favors from the Clintons, he'd "trusted" that the State Department under Hillary Clinton would appropriately handle potential conflicts of interest.

"It was natural for people who've been our political allies and personal friends to call and ask for things. And I trusted the State Department wouldn't do anything they shouldn't do," Clinton told NPR in an interview that aired Monday morning.
    He also maintained that he would sever his connection to the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton is elected president to remove any conflict-of-interest concerns, though he acknowledged the move would be "hard."
    "It is hard, but you know, if Hillary is elected, I'm looking forward to it," Clinton said. He noted that he's worked for the foundation "longer than I've ever had any job -- and I loved it."
    "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," Clinton added.
    The former president pushed back on criticism that donors to the Clintons Foundation engaged in a "pay-to-play" scheme, whereby donations to the foundation bought influence with Hillary Clinton during her term as Secretary of State. He pointed to the lack of evidence of any such quid-pro-quos, and accused critics of "smearing" him and his wife, according to NPR.
    "In real life, if somebody tells a lie about you, and I find out it is, I like you more and them less. In political life, they just keep on smearing you -- even if it all comes to nothing -- people will like you less and won't hold anybody accountable for what they say."
    Clinton also praised his wife for weathering criticism during her presidential campaign. "I wonder if there's a man in America that could have taken what she's been through in the last year and a half."