Bill Clinton brushes aside foundation criticism

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Bill Clinton addresses allegations about foundation
04:16 - Source: CNN

The entire Clinton interview will air Sunday at 9 a.m. on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.

Story highlights

Bill Clinton defended the work of his family's foundation in an interview to air Sunday at 9 a.m. on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper

Clinton said his wife, Hillary, was "too busy" as secretary of state to be doling out favors for donors

Denver CNN  — 

Bill Clinton aggressively denied allegations that donors to his family’s foundation were given special treatment by Hillary Clinton’s State Department in a lengthy interview with CNN set to air on Sunday.

The former president told CNN’s Jake Tapper that no Clinton Foundation donor has “asked me for anything,” adding that his wife was too busy as secretary of state to do favors for foundation supporters.

“She was pretty busy those years,” Clinton told Tapper. “I never saw her study a list of my contributors, and I had no idea who was doing business before the State Department.”

The Clinton Foundation and their rolls of foreign and corporate donors have become a flashpoint for Hillary Clinton’s newly announced presidential campaign. Critics and investigative reporters have sought to prove that supporters of the Clinton Foundation were currying favor with the Clintons when they donated, but no blatant example of influence peddling has been revealed in months of scrutiny.

RELATED: Clinton Foundation admits mistakes

Clinton said that any crossover between Clinton Foundation donors and companies the State Department was lobbying for abroad was more happenstance than nefarious.

“America’s always had to lobby for American-made airplanes,” Clinton said, referring to the fact that Boeing, an American airplane manufacturer, had worked with both the State Department while also donating to the foundation’s work in Haiti.

“I don’t think they (donated) to make the government like them better. We do like them better. All Americans are grateful that there are American jobs and businesses around the world,” Clinton said. “So I don’t know of anything, if there was even an appearance of conflict, except all these folks helped us do what we do, which I think is good work.”

While Clinton said nothing was ever given to the foundation’s donors, he said that he could not outright deny that any of his donors were hoping for anything in return when they cut his foundation a check.

“I know of no example, but I don’t ever know what people’s motives are,” he said.

Clinton echoed many of his wife’s supporters and aides when he said attacks on his foundation were strictly about politics.

“Nobody even suggested it or talked about it or thought about it until the political season began,” Clinton said..

The foundation, however, has admitted they’ve made missteps in the past, particularly on the reporting and approval of their foreign donations. Foundation aides admitted earlier this year they “made mistakes” in reporting, but did nothing intentionally wrong.

Clinton’s comments came during the annual meeting of Clinton Global Initiative America in Denver, where foundation supporters made nearly 80 pledges to address issues such as providing low-income Americans with alternatives to predatory loans and providing Navajo Nation with solar power.

In his interview with Tapper, Clinton described his foundation as an endeavor to “get people who have money to people who don’t, and to give it to them in a way that’s empowering so it actually changes their lives.”

Clinton reiterated that the foundation’s aim was to help the powerless; people “who are working as hard as they can, but who don’t have enough money to support their kids and meet basic human needs.”

“They can’t change the future,” he said. “(For them) every tomorrow is just like yesterday. That’s how I define powerless. Not poverty. Not adversity alone. But the inability to alter your condition.”

The entire Clinton interview will air Sunday at 9 a.m. on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.