TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton Considered Giving Speeches Connected to North Korea, Congo

Bill Clinton
Jacquelyn Martin—AP Former President Bill Clinton listens to a question after speaking at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.

Emails show speeches could have netted big payday

Former President Bill Clinton sought approval from the State Department for speaking engagements related to North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, according to emails obtained by ABC News. Both countries are thought to be complicit in a number of human rights violations.

In the emails, a representative for the Clinton Foundation passes along to a State Department official an invite to a speaking engagement in Brazzaville, Congo that would earn Clinton a speaking fee of $650,000. ABC notes the leaders of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo required photos with the former president as a condition of the speech. DRC leader Joseph Kabila has been widely criticized for maneuvering to stay in power indefinitely past his term. A group that helps Clinton organize his speeches, called the Harry Walker Agency, recommended that he decline the invite.

In another set of emails that begin with the subject line “North Korea invitation,” the Clinton Foundation representative wrote to the state department, ““Is it safe to assume [the U.S. Government] would have concerns about WJC accepting the attached invitation related to North Korea?” A State Department official instructed the Clinton Foundation to decline the offer.

Huge speaking fees drawn by both Clintons, sometimes from controversial foreign governments and figures, have come under scrutiny amid Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“As a matter of course, all requests were run by the State Department,” a press official in Bill Clinton’s office told ABC News, arguing that the Clinton Foundation was not pushing to get the speeches approved. “Ultimately, the President did not give these speeches.”

[ABC News]

TIME

Donald Trump Explains All

In an interview with TIME, the leading Republican candidate talks about what's wrong with the Clintons, his opponents' weaknesses and what it takes to be great

Donald Trump was interviewed by TIME Editor Nancy Gibbs, Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer, and political correspondent Zeke Miller on Aug. 18.

For TIME’s cover story on Trump, read here.

Jeb Bush was asked about your comment on “Meet the Press.” You were asked who your foreign policy advisors are and you said you “watch the shows.” He said it’s not enough to watch television. Do you have a response to that?

Well Jeb is a very low energy person. So he can sit around a table all day long with one general and talk and talk and you know. But I see that general as being grilled by you. And when I say I watch on television, I do, and I watch on TIME Magazine, and I watch in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, I read all of them a lot.

And I get my views from the media. A lot of the views, and frankly other people do. And the views that you will see during those ten or fifteen minute segments or during reading the story are not a lot different than Jeb sitting around with a policy group, if he really has such a thing.

Donald Trump Time Magazine Cover
Photograph by Martin SchoellerPhotographed for TIME on August 18, 2015 in New York City.

Behind the cover: Donald Trump meets an American bald eagle.

It sounds good. I can say that too. You know I was an excellent student at the best school and I could also say, “Oh well, I have a great policy group, and we sit around.” I mean I wonder whether or not Jeb actually has that. But I’m being very honest. And I know when I say something like that, you can be criticized…When I see certain generals sitting at the different shows, I mean I think it’s a great way to learn about what’s going on. When I see the leaders of countries sitting on shows and frankly, you don’t have to go through the whole process. It’s a shortened version.

So I’m somebody that time is very important to me, and it saves time. But also you get really good views. You see some tremendous people.

In one of your books on leadership you actually said as advice to other people who want to be entrepreneurs, having a short attention span can be a benefit.

Well I mean I have an attention span that’s as long as it has to be. But I don’t have to sit around with a group of generals to tell me about Iraq being a failure. Iraq was a total failure.

Several of your rivals say that your experience in business doesn’t translate. Chris Christie said, “This is not negotiating a real estate deal. This is international diplomacy.” What do you say to that?

Well, I have the right temperament. I have the right leadership. I’ve built an incredible company. I went to a great school. I came out I built an incredible company. I wrote the number one selling business book of all time Trump: The Art of the Deal. I had tremendous success in show business–star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “The Apprentice” was one of the most successful shows. And as you know NBC renewed it, I just said I’m not doing it. They’re not exactly thrilled with me at all. But I’ve had a great career, and I know how to get along with people. I know how to deal with people.

I mean, if I was the governor of New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge would not have been shut. You talk about temperament.

You know people are talking about diplomacy, or tone. You know Bush brings up tone all the time. Tone. We need strong tone. We’re too far behind. We’re behind. We’re not winning. You know if we were winning we could sort of soften it up.

But you look at Putin can’t stand Obama, and Obama can’t stand him, in all fairness. But we don’t get along with anybody anymore. Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the country. The world came apart under her reign as Secretary of State.

I want to ask you about the immigration plan you put out over the weekend. You had said in 2012 that Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comment was crazy and maniacal.

Well I thought it was stupid. Who’s going to self deport? It wasn’t that it was a bad plan from any other standpoint. But you tell people, oh, self deport. To me that just means what, you’re just going to walk across the border and say okay. They asked me to go. That’s not going to happen.

So how does the deportation happen under …

Well what we’re going to do–we have a plan, and I think it’s a really good plan. And by the way, it’s been very well received and some of the candidates, my opponents I guess you could call them, but some of the candidates have said that’s really what you want. I worked with a number of people on it including [Alabama] Senator [Jeff] Sessions, highly respected, and not known as a radical person at all. But we’re going to have to – look, it’s very simple. We either have a country or we don’t.

The first thing I need is a wall, and I will build a wall. And you know that Hillary Clinton and almost everybody ten years ago wanted a wall built. Everybody wanted a wall built. But they couldn’t do it because they don’t know anything about building. They’re throwing out numbers to build a wall. I’ll build a far better wall, far higher, and just a much better–that’s what I do. I mean the thing I do best is build. Which is not bad to have as a president because our infrastructure in this country is also crumbling. But we’ll build a great wall. It will be a very effective wall. And it will be done quickly and Mexico will pay for it.

But the next step, if I understand your plan correctly, is that even the hardworking good people who are here without papers —

They’re illegally here. They will leave, and they’ll come back on an expedited basis if they…And they will leave.

You’re talking about 10% of California’s workforce, maybe 13% …

Don’t forget in the meantime we have a real unemployment rate that’s probably 21%. It’s not 6. I’s not 5.2 and 5.5. Our real unemployment rate–in fact, I saw a chart the other day, our real unemployment–because you have ninety million people that aren’t working. Ninety-three million to be exact.

If you start adding it up, our real unemployment rate is 42%. We have a lot of room. We have a lot of people who want to work. But the good people I want them to come back. And I also want people of great talent to come to this country, to Silicon Valley for engineers. If you go to Harvard and you graduate number one in your class, and you’re from China, they send you home, you can’t get back into the country.

So you end up working for companies in China and fighting us. And they’re competitors of us. They’re trained in our schools. I want people like that to come into this country. And if they want, I want that path to citizenship for these people. So they go to our best schools, they’re fabulous students, they do well, they’re going to be great and we throw them out of the country. It’s ridiculous.

So again, just talking about the hardworking peaceful undocumented immigrants here.

Illegal immigrants, we’re taking about the illegal. Do you know the word illegal? They go out …

But do you forcibly remove them? I mean if they choose not to go, if they say, “No, I’m not going to go.”

It’ll all work out. It’s called management. Politicians can’t manage. All they can do is talk. It’s called management. And we’ll do an expedited system. Because I agree with you, there are some very, very good people here who they are here illegally.

But they are illegal. We have to strengthen our border. We have to have people come in legally. And we will work out an expedited system where the really good people can come back legally.

If you became president, what needs to change about about Super PACs and campaign financing? It’s a system that you’ve said is basically corrupt.

Well I think this whole thing with PACs is nonsense. Because Jeb Bush puts his friend in charge of has PAC, and they don’t talk….And he’s going to work hard, as is Hillary Clinton. They all have their friends running the PACs. Now you’re not supposed to talk, you’re not supposed to – they go out and play golf, they get together, but they don’t talk. Who believes that? So I want transparency. I don’t mind the money coming in. Let it be transparent. Let them talk, but let there be total transparency.

Are you willing to sign the “No New Taxes” pledge of Grover Norquist?

Well I’m thinking about it but I have a problem because I may want to switch taxes around. I want to save the middle class. And I have hedge fund guys that are making a lot of money that aren’t paying anything, okay. And I don’t know how his pledge relates to that.

But I know a lot of bad people in this country that are making a hell of a lot of money and not paying taxes. And the tax law is totally screwed up. The complexity of it, the size of it. I mean I spent millions of dollars every year on lawyers and accountants just to do a tax return. And I want to put H&R Block out of business. I want to make it very simple. And we can leave the tax code the way it is and simplify it, or you could go to a form of a flat tax. You could go to a fair tax. There’s a lot of things you could do.

Probably the simplest is simplify the existing. Because we have other projects. We have to beat China. We have to beat Japan. We have to beat Mexico. We have to beat everybody that beating us, which is 100% of the countries that we do business with. We have a lot of other things to work on.

As president would you propose changes that increased the net amount of taxes?

No, because there’s so much waste in Washington.

You’ve written more on leadership than any of the other candidates. George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, who is a better leader?

I wasn’t a huge fan of Bush, as you know…I thought he was lost. I thought he was not a great president…He certainly wasn’t a good president. He got us into Iraq which by itself was a disaster. He also caused toward the end of his thing a financial problem by allowing exploding mortgages and other things that I predicted. I said you’re going to have a huge bubble here. We have another one coming up by the way. I predicted that. You have exploding mortgages. I understood. I made a lot of money because I went in and bought a lot of stuff at the low price after it exploded. But he really gave us Obama. Clinton had a lot of problems with the Monicas of the world and had he not had those problems he would have had a pretty good presidency. Not a great one but a pretty solid presidency. But that was a disaster and a tremendous distraction.

Are there any of the current candidates who you would not consider as a vice presidential candidate?

Well I don’t want to say because – I will tell you when it’s all over, win, lose or draw, I’ll tell you who I respect, who I don’t respect. I think the thing that I most – that I’m very complimented by is that Rick Perry was doing really well, and then he decided he had to do better and he went after me and he went right down the tubes.

Senator Lindsey Graham was doing fine. Nobody got more publicity than this guy. He had zero. He’s the only one that had zero. That means not one person in the whole country – he had zero. Like [former New York Gov. George] Pataki had zero but slightly more than that, right. He actually had a zero down today on the CNN.

And these were the two guys that hit me very hard. And it was such a compliment to think – and now by the way Rand Paul’s going down the tubes. Because all of a sudden he came out of nowhere and he hit me, and now he’s … Now I hit back very hard. I think I hit back maybe sometimes harder than they hit me.

But I came out with a very strong statement about Rand Paul. First of all I think he’s totally taking advantage of the people in Kentucky. Because one of these afterthought, if I don’t win here I’ll go back to you. It doesn’t work that way. Somebody should primary him out. Because he can be beaten, believe me.

So he’s done very poorly. And since he attacked me, he’s gone down. And I’m greatly honored by that, you know. I get attacked but somebody and they go down. I thought that a guy like Perry, he was getting so much publicity, he went to Washington, he read a speech, he did a whole big thing, it was all over the television. He went down. So that’s a great honor.

What happened with “The Apprentice”?

[NBC/Comcast Executives] came up to see me. And even after twelve years and fourteen seasons it was one of their most successful shows. It was a great success. And they tried to talk me into it and I just wouldn’t do it. And I just wouldn’t do it.

So I didn’t know this was going to happen, and they’re impressed too. They probably didn’t know this was going to happen either.

Do you still retain an interest in the show?

Yeah I do. A big interest. So it’s a very good question. When I say I’m not doing another season, that’s a lot of money. And even if you’re a rich person, that’s a lot of money to give up… They would have paid me whatever I wanted. So when I did this…I turned down a deal last week in China, because I’d have to go there. One of the biggest companies wanted me to do a deal in China. Guaranteed tens of millions of dollars. Turned it down because I can’t go to China… I’ve told my kids, this is going so wild. Let’s see what happens.

You know I’ve had great success. Even in golf I’ve won many golf club championships. I don’t know if you guys play golf. But to win a club championship is hard, literally hard. And you have to beat scratch players…You got a lot of good players. I’ve won many club championships. So my life has been about winning. My life has not been about losing. So I get a kick out of watching these guys who were not even successful people saying, “Oh, he’s just having fun.”

It’s not having fun. Actually I could have more fun. I own here’s a picture, I own Turnberry in Scotland that just hosted the Women’s British Open. I wouldn’t mind being at Turnberry. I may never see it again.

Are you surprised by your position?

So I’m a little surprised that it’s gone with this speed. I don’t expect to lose ever. But the speed is pretty rapid. You know. And unlike other people, I’ve stayed in the position.

Why run for president this time? You’ve decided against it in the past.

So it was really important that I do it, for myself…I mean I really considered it strongly last time. Before that I thought about it. But I never even had any staff. My secretary was my staff. But the time I looked at it was less time. But I was very busy, I was doing tremendous developments which are now completed and very successful. Because we’re all over the world. And I had a signed contract with “The Apprentice.” I would have had to break it. The other reason I wanted to do this for myself. I didn’t want to look back in ten years and say I could have done that or I could have done that. My family would look at me and say, “Ugh, stop.” I had to do it for myself.

How has this changed your life?

So I am enjoying it. And I think people see that…I’m watching my opponents. Certainly Hillary is not enjoying it, okay. She’s going through something that for me, for me is Watergate. Her only hope is that because the prosecutors are Democrats she doesn’t get prosecuted. That’s the only hope she’s got. Because what she did is wrong and what she did far worse than General Petraeus.…And I saw her joke yesterday, it wasn’t a joke … but it was sort of like you’re laughing at people’s faces when they say – and they automatically – you know by saying they were automatically deleted, right, you know she made that statement yesterday, by saying that you’re almost saying that you deleted them on purpose….It was supposed to be a joke. It wasn’t funny, but there was a lot into that if you think about it.

A lot of your supporters are not wealthy. They can never imagine themselves in your shoes.

And they like me.

You’re not the average American in a way, you’ve never been – but you connect with them. How do you explain that?

Actually, the funny thing is, I do worse with the wealthy people. Okay, it’s funny in my opinion. Now, they’ll all support me if I want them to, but I don’t want them. If they want to send something, I don’t care….I have a dot com. I had a woman send me $7 the other day. Another guy sent me $12. There was a long beautiful letter. I love that, because it’s like they’re investing. That’s called a great thing. They’re investing…They’re doing that because they’re investing in the campaign and that I really do like. But somehow I related to exactly what you’re saying, to the middle class, to the working person, and people don’t understand.

You come in on a Boeing 757, then you get on a helicopter, and you go over to the fair, and you give the kids the rides, which the kids loved. But you land in this incredible Sikorsky, and people like it. I’ve always felt that when Jimmy Carter would walk out of—off Air Force One carrying his own suits and bags, I always said, that’s not what the country wants… He would walk off Air Force One carrying his suit and his bag. He’s the President of the United States, and he didn’t want anybody to carry his stuff, because he thought, “Why should they? I can carry it myself.” I always felt that’s not what they want. They don’t want that. They want someone who’s going to beat China, beat Japan.

I was in Los Angeles, I saw boats coming in with cars from Japan, the largest ships I’ve ever seen, loaded to the gills, cars just pouring off, made in Japan. How does that help us, and we give them a fraction—a tiny fraction—and they don’t even want it. Those days are gone. Those days will be gone. But we have to make ourselves wealthy again in order to save our country. We can’t continuously lose money.

How do you view the state of the American banking system?

We’re having a huge problem, again. You know you look at the junk. You know all the junk that’s floating all over the place. You look at some of this Internet stuff that’s floating all over. We’re in a bubble again, okay. It’s not – and I’ll tell you the problem with the banks, if you’re really rich, like with me, if I want to borrow money I can buy all the money I want. But if there’s a young Donald Trump that needs some money to do a couple of really good deals can’t get it because the regulators are making it absolutely impossible for the banks to loan money.

Do you want to repeal Dodd Frank and similar financial regulation reforms passed by President Obama?

Well Dodd Frank is probably not a very good thing. There are aspects of it you could leave. But generally speaking Dodd Frank stifles business. It just totally stifles business.

I’ll tell you another subject that I’m going to start talking about because nobody talks about it. Corporate inversion, where companies are going over to other places. You know it used to be they moved from New York to Florida, they moved from New Jersey to…Pfizer is talking about moving to Ireland. Or someplace else. We’re talking about Pfizer. Do you know how big that is? It would wipe out New Jersey. I mean that is a massive Merck.

They have $2.5 trillion sitting out of the country that they can’t get back because they don’t want to pay the tax. Nor would I. Everybody agrees that shouldn’t happen. We should let them back in. Everybody. Even if you paid nothing it would be a good deal. Because they’ll take that money then and use it for other things.

But they’ll pay something. Ten percent, they’ll pay something. Every Republican, every Democrat for years they have all agreed … They all agree. So now what’s happening is companies are moving out to get their money. And they’re moving out because they’ll pay lower taxes. That’s a huge problem.

You don’t have any Cayman accounts?

No I don’t. I could have.

Have you ever, because you’d benefit a lot I’m sure.

I could have and I said – I’ve been thinking about doing this – that really hurt Romney in my book, when he set up these stupid accounts. In the end, when you do the Cayman accounts you don’t gain that much.

The way you criticize the political process seems like the underlying theme of this campaign is that the people who are running stuff now are all phonies. That pretending it’s something they can’t actually do.

They can’t do it.

And they use pollsters to tell you what they think, that they’re just not real. And then you’re presenting yourself as the more authentic person. That’s the underlying —

I’m a person who’s had great success in getting things done. They do use pollsters. I’m much richer than all of them put together. I don’t want to pay a pollster. They pay these pollsters a hundred thousand dollars a month for doing what?

And then these guys come in and they want to be tough. Like Romney, but the time he got to the last debate he couldn’t even talk. He was afraid to say anything.

In 2014, you had Republicans saying we’re going to take back Congress, we need it. And they raised five hundred million dollars to do it. The first thing we’re going to do is repeal Obamacare. And they haven’t done it.

They joked. They couldn’t do it.

So do you think that they’re not honest?

They got elected on the basis. So they got in, something happened.

Are they the real phonies though?

Look, I was just as disappointed in the Republicans as I am the Democrats. I mean at least the Democrats you know where they’re coming from. The Republicans – and many of them got elected on the basis of we’re going to get rid of Obamacare.

It’s almost like when they get to Washington, I will not let this happen to me. They’re so enamored with the magnificence that they sort of say, “Oh, we can’t do this. We can’t do that.” They become different. Does that make sense?

It’s just so false and so phony and they can’t move. It’s moribund. They become weak and ineffective except at one thing: get themselves reelected…I have friends who are in Congress and they run every two years. And good guys, I’ve known then for a long time. As soon as that cycle is up, you know they win their election, then they take one day off and then the next day they start fundraising.

All they do it fundraise. They don’t really govern. They just fundraise. Their whole life is raising money. And I say what percentage of the time you’re raising money as opposed to legislating? …I mean they’re constantly – it’s that time of year, you come in. I mean that’s all they do is raise money.

So you say that they’re puppets. You understand the game.

They’re puppets. I’m the only non-puppet in the group.

What was the best example of something you got from a politician?

Well I wasn’t an asker. I would just give just in case. I would always be treated well. But I’ll say this. If the Speaker of the House, somebody they come up to see you and they’d like to know if you’d make a contribution. It’s not a lot of money.

Let’s say you say no. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t. I have great respect for you, I like you a lot. I will not make a contribution.” “Oh, thank you Mr. Trump, thank you.” Now let’s say three years go by and I call, I need something from the Speaker of the House or I need something from somebody.

We’re talking really human nature, okay. It’s fairly hard. It’s the rare politician that can do what’s right in the face of massive contributions. And who can blame them. You could say you’re disloyal. You can do whatever you want to say. But let’s say you say no and then you call three years later. Nothing quid pro quo, none of that stuff. 100%.

Hillary’s thing with the speeches is interesting because to me that’s just as interesting as the emails. Because you look at the speeches and you look at the people who are paying all of that money for those speeches and then approvals of … going to be granted are granted. To me that’s as big a deal. People have forgotten about that.

What do you think of David Koch?

Yes, he’s a member of my club. Well you saw my Tweets on David where all these guys … they’re tying to get money and influence … He’s a member of my club… Big guy. So is his brother, a big guy. And I think they’re well meaning people too by the way. I think they’re actually very well meaning people. But when I see all these guys running over to go get money – okay so when David calls and needs something do you think they’re going to say no? Possible. It’s just something that’s pretty far out. It’s pretty much impossible.

You’ve said that you can’t tear up an Iran deal on Day One.

I’m a deal maker, when a person makes a deal … But I’ve taken on some really bad deals and made the other side suffer.

Do your rivals who say they’d tear up the deal understand how the world works?

They don’t…It’s a terrible deal. But I would enforce that deal like they never saw … I’d demand to go – and the twenty-four day thing is ridiculous. And the fact that we didn’t get the prisoners back is ridiculous.

There are so many things wrong with it….I’m a dealmaker…There are things in the deal that I’m sure Kerry doesn’t even know about that I will find. And if they make a mistake they’ve got big problems.

What do your daughters give you a hard time about?

I’ve been very lucky, they’re both smart and both went to the Wharton School. Tiffany goes to Penn and Ivanka went to the Wharton School, both very good students. Tiffany’s got all A’s, Ivanka the same, very good students.

Ivanka was interesting because I’m very strong on women’s health issues. And I couldn’t believe what Bush said last week about he wouldn’t fund, essentially wouldn’t fund women’s health issues. And I hit him hard. And she came back and she said I’m so glad you did that Dad, because people don’t know how you respect women, they don’t know how you get it, and you have to get that word out.

There still seems to be a ceiling in the polls that there’s a big chunk of the country who know you very well and don’t want to see you in the Oval Office. How can you deal with that?

Well they’ve been saying the ceiling from the time I started in six. When I first got in it was six. Well that’s the ceiling and he’ll stay around there …There was one poll that said thirty-two.

People are surprised, it’s the Tea Party but it’s also straight across the board. It’s men, it’s women, it’s a lot of Democrats. In fact … said you were better with the Democrats…The states where they know me best there’s a huge positive. In fact I had the biggest swing of anybody that they’ve seen. You know what I mean, right?

So I think that’s just a question of time. And I think that I will be the one to beat Hillary.

You’d told people that Bill Clinton told you a third party ticket is possible.

Well he’d love that. I love a third party too. I think Bernie Sanders should run on the Green Party. I think that Bernie Sanders should run. I would love to see Bernie Sanders…Now look, I’m running as a Republican. I’m running as a Republican … And honestly they’ve been treating me fairly. I don’t want nice or anything I just want fair. They’ve been very fair.

Both parties approval ratings are falling even as yours have gone up. What’s the problem?

Because I don’t think the people running for office are real. Because Jeb Bush and others will come out against women’s health issues because – and then he’ll say he misspoke. You’ll see that. He misspoke. Five hours late he comes in with the opposite…I really think they have to throw a lot of their consultants away and just be themselves. I think it’s one of the things that’s helped me. You know, I’m a smart person. I don’t have somebody telling me what I should say.

And I don’t want to go against myself either when I believe in something. Because that’s false. I saw it today with … you saw it big league with [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker today. When he made a statement based on my immigration plan and then his consultants said you’ve got to change that. But I think they would do better if they were themselves.

Do you think there’s any chance watching what has happened with you, that here will be a wave of authenticity?

I think that’s what they need. There’s so little authenticity in many of the people that I’m watching. And that includes the other side. Hillary. I mean it certainly includes Hillary…

What’s the most significant learning experience in your life?

Look, I do say this. Just in watching – I give speeches on success for friends and for charities. I put the money into charity. And they pay me a lot. I will say this, over my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of very smart people who were quitters. They never made it. And I’ve seen people that weren’t as smart who never ever, ever gave up. And those were the people that made it. And I’ve seen it to this day. I’ve seen people that graduated … in school who were super geniuses. And they never made it. And I’ve seen people that were not as smart as them and they’re the biggest people out there. And the ones that are the biggest people are the people that never gave up. It’s something I’ve just observed over the years.

So I take it you’re not giving up.

No, I don’t give up.

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Got a Call From Bill Clinton Before He Announced His Candidacy

Bill Clinton
Matt Rourke—AP, Stephen B. Morton—AP Former President Bill Clinton smiles after speaking at the NAACP's 106th Annual National Convention on July 15, 2015, in Philadelphia. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump greets supporters before he speaks at his South Carolina Campaign Kickoff Rally in Bluffton on July 21, 2015.

An aide to Bill Clinton confirmed the phone call occurred in late May.

Former President Bill Clinton privately called Donald Trump in late May when the real estate mogul was on the verge of announcing his 2016 bid for the presidency, the Washington Post reported, citing four Trump confidants and one Hillary Clinton campaign associate—all wishing to remain anonymous.

Bill Clinton’s personal office confirmed that the call occurred, telling the New York Times “that Mr. Trump reached out to President Clinton a few times.”

“President Clinton returned his call in late May,” the aide told the Times. “And, that while we don’t make it a practice to discuss the president’s private conversations, we can tell you that the presidential race was not discussed.”

The four Trump sources, however, told the Post that Trump was candid about the run.

The Clinton/Trump connection is one with some history. Trump has donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons were guests at Trump’s third wedding in 2005 to current wife Melania Knauss. Clinton also is a member of one of Trump’s golf courses.

Neither the Trump campaign nor the Clinton campaign responded to requests for comment.

TIME White House

Bill Clinton Has a Little Fun in Birthday Tweet to Obama

"Hopefully when @FLOTUS isn't looking you can have some cake"

The 42nd President wished the 44th President a Happy Birthday on Twitter—with a wink toward the First Lady.

“Happy birthday, ! Hopefully when isn’t looking you can have some cake. ,” Bill Clinton wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

Obama turned 54 on Tuesday. Neither Obama nor First Lady Michelle Obama (@FLOTUS) had responded to Clinton’s birthday tweet as of early Tuesday afternoon.

TIME Television

Bill Clinton to Appear on StarTalk Season 2 Premiere

Former President Bill Clinton and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson attend the 65th Anniversary Artists & Writers Celebrity Softball Game at Herrick Park on Aug. 17, 2013 in East Hampton, New York.
Steven A Henry—Getty Images Former President Bill Clinton and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson attend the 65th Anniversary Artists & Writers Celebrity Softball Game at Herrick Park on Aug. 17, 2013 in East Hampton, New York.

The former president will appear alongside show host Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Neil DeGrasse Tyson will sit down with President Bill Clinton for the season 2 premiere of StarTalk, NatGeo announced at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour.

“I couldn’t think of a more appropriate guest to kick off our second season,” said Tyson. “President Bill Clinton is a public figure whose impact and influence spans politics, pop culture and science—with an occasional dose of humor. That’s exactly the mission statement for StarTalk, and I look forward to sharing our conversation with viewers.”

Other season 2 guests include Susan Sarandon, David Byrne, Larry Wilmore, Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp and Penn and Teller.

StarTalk returns Sunday, Oct. 25 at 11 p.m. ET on NatGeo.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME politics

The Danger of a Celebrity President

It's a problem when a president becomes a personality more outsized than the office of the presidency itself

Once upon a time in America, it was believed that the president of the United States should have the gravitas and proper sense of priorities to distance himself from the triviality of showbiz. Then along came television, and Nixon poked fun at himself onLaugh-In, Clinton played blues sax on The Arsenio Hall Show, and Obama slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon. Now anyone who aspires to occupy the White House is expected to show that he or she is just as comfortable hanging with celebs as mingling with heads of state. Welcome to the era of the pop culture presidency.

In his recent book Celebrity in Chief: A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom, presidential historian Kenneth T. Walsh argues that celebrity is an indispensable part of the modern presidency, and that presidents who handle celebrity better are more successful. While what constitutes “successful” is arguable, it’s true that a comfortable engagement with pop culture has become an important selling point for presidential candidates.

Walsh’s book was reviewed recently by Tevi Troy, who traced the interaction (or lack thereof) between our presidents and the pop culture of their time in his own book on the topic, What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House. Troy argues that pop culture is the most influential arena in which to connect with the American people—especially the politically coveted younger generations—and for capturing their imaginations. For example,

The most astute presidents of the cinematic era, such as Clinton and Reagan, have understood that movies tell stories about themselves and about the country that can reach voters with no interest in political speeches but who hold great interest in what is taking place on the silver screen.

There is an obvious political advantage for the president or candidate who not only has his finger on the pulse of the culture, but who can manipulate it through the gravitational pull of his own charm and charisma.

Troy believes that presidents who distance themselves from pop culture and focus on reading can show a seriousness of purpose that some voters appreciate. But the truth is that Americans have a healthy suspicion of bookish intellectuals as leaders—and rightly so. Leadership is primarily about vision and charisma, not intellect. Throughout our history it’s been more important to Americans for our presidents to have the common touch than to be well read or well educated, and today that means a president who understands pop culture.

And no president understands it like Barack Obama, a man “shaped by popular culture more thoroughly than any other president in our history,” says Troy. Obama has won two elections in no small measure because of his shrewd understanding of, and what Walsh calls “his constant and unusual” engagement with, pop culture. He chats on late night talk shows, hangs with Jay Z and Beyoncé, and jets out to Hollywood periodically for fundraisers. He has successfully appropriated the hipness of movie stars and rappers, and raised the bar of presidential cool to heights Bill Clinton could only dream of.

Is that a problem? What’s wrong with a president who “gets” young people, who is relatable and cool? In an era in which singer Bono is out there doing the work of a world leader himself, why install some boring old fart in the White House who probably doesn’t even listen to U2?

The harm is not in having a president with personality and a sense of humor, and it’s perfectly understandable that he or she would take advantage of the platforms pop culture offers to reach voters, including the vast swath of the American public that might not otherwise pay attention to politics.

The danger is that a president who takes time out to trade comic barbs with Zack Galifianakis on Funny or Die, or be interviewed by a YouTube star best-known for bathing in Fruit Loops, not only diminishes the dignity of the presidency but unwisely gives both our allies and our enemies the impression that the American people and the Leader of the Free World are fundamentally unserious.

The danger comes when voters are seduced into the orbit of a leader or candidate not because of his or her character and positions on the issues, but because of a shallow aura of cool.

The danger comes when a president becomes a personality more outsized than the office of the Presidency itself, when he or she not only hangs with celebs, but becomes one.

We live in dangerous times. Nothing would make them worse quite like an American Ppresident empowered not by the trust and respect of what Jefferson called an informed electorate, but by a corrupting cult of celebrity.

This article originally appeared on Acculturated

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Behind the Photos

Behind TIME’s Cover with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

Mark Seliger discusses photographing the two former U.S. presidents for TIME's cover

Mark Seliger is used to taking pictures of U.S. presidents. He’s photographed Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, both in 2010 for Rolling Stone magazine, and Bill Clinton on several occasions over the past decade. But it’s not every day you get a chance to photograph two presidents in the same room, at the same time, for one magazine cover—a TIME cover, in this instance.

On July 9 in Dallas, when former presidents Clinton and George W. Bush shared the stage at the graduation of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a new partnership between their presidential centers, they met with TIME’s editor Nancy Gibbs and deputy managing editor Michael Duffy. A few minutes before, they had posed for Seliger.

“It was uncharted waters for me,” the photographer tells TIME. “Typically, when you’re working in these situations the biggest hurdle is time and hoping that you’re going to get your full amount of time. In this case, we were allowed 10 minutes. And 10 minutes go by very quickly.”

For Seliger, the most important part of such a high-profile shoot comes even before you pick up the camera. “I have to have a pretty specific idea of where I want to go,” he says. “I had an idea of how I wanted to position them, and when we got into Dallas, I was able to get a couple of stools [to use on the shoot].” And with only 10 minutes with both presidents, Seliger needed to take a simple approach to the set-up and lighting. “Then once I get there I can be mindful and respectful of my subjects,” he adds. “I can engage with them, work with them and direct them quickly so that we can make a pretty typical photograph as special as possible.”

Seliger had worked with Clinton in the past and remembered his charm—“He’s always engaging and warm, he remembers you,” he says of the 42nd President of the United States. “He tries to make you as comfortable as you’re trying to make him. That’s part of his charisma.”—but it was the first time that he had photographed Bush.

“For the common person, you would probably feel [Clinton and Bush] weren’t necessarily close to each other, but the [Presidents’ club] is a very small club,” he says. “They are very warm to each other and connected. Bush was equally as warm and charming and down-to-Earth. That was the bonus for me: to walk into a situation where it wasn’t all business, [where] there was pleasant and energetic feeling in the air.”

Mark Seliger is a portrait photographer based in New York City.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent.

TIME

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s Plan for 2016

George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton cover
Mark Seliger for TIME Bush and Clinton in Dallas on July 9

In an interview with TIME, the two former presidents reveal their views on the upcoming presidential campaign which could pit one's wife against another's brother. Plus, Bill Clinton defends his family's foundation, why Hillary Clinton never thought she'd be in politics and whether George W. Bush has designs on painting his predecessor's portrait

In a rare joint interview for this week’s cover story, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton discuss how they will handle the 2016 race, one that could very well feature Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush competing against each other for the White House. One thing’s for sure about the upcoming election: it will be fun to watch the two alpha dogs of American politics try to muzzle themselves and sit on their paws.

Here’s a peak at how the two baby boomer presidents view the world today and the upcoming campaign.

Read TIME’s cover story, “Game of Thrones: Inside the most surprising alliance in politics.”

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s plans for 2016
“I think most of my role will be giving advice if I’m asked for it,” Clinton told TIME about his position in wife Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “And I try not to even offer it at home unless I’m asked. But she’s been pretty good about asking every now and then.”

“Look, this is highly complicated,” Clinton says of the the political environment. “People don’t like negative, divisive environments. But they frequently reward them in elections.”

“It’s great that you can get 100 media outlets,” Clinton said, “but you have to devour each other and it puts even more pressure on people like you to turn us all into two-dimensional cartoons.”

“I can’t tell you who is going to win, but I can tell you what’s going to happen,” Bush says. “There’s kind of a general pattern. And there will be flash in the pans, there will be this crisis, there will be the funding thing. There will be all these things that happen, but eventually the person who can best lead their party will be nominated.”

Given the near certainty of Hillary’s bid, Bush’s logic about his brother Jeb entering the campaign was mathematical: “What difference does it make,” he said at the time, “if the order is Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama/Clinton or it is Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama/Bush?”

Even if the nation longed for a fresh face, the fantastic plot twist of 2016 was that someone named Bush still stood a chance. To 43, at least, the downside of one dynasty canceled the downside of the other.

“I’m sure there will be moments where somebody says something about Jeb or somebody writes something about Jeb that will sting,” Bush says. “I shouldn’t say I’m used to it, but the emotions I felt when our dad was criticized really got me for a while. … I think I’ll feel the same thing about Jeb. It’ll be interesting to see how affected I become.”

Bill Clinton defends the Clinton Foundation against critics
Clinton defends the model of their foundation, which builds coalitions to address challenges like maternal health, AIDS, and development and sustainability. If his post-presidency has a signature, it has been forging partnerships between private businesses and government officials to break down barriers to change.

“I think it’s crazy to keep all of these efforts siloed,” he says. “As long as you have total and full disclosure, and people can evaluate the im­pact of what you’ve done and the impact of the decisions you’ve made and how to do it, it’s still the right way to go.” Clinton continues, “Now I’ve been, as you know, criticized for it the last few months, but I still think we’re right.” The foundation says it has disclosed the names and ag­gregate amounts of most of its 300,000­ plus donors since its founding in 2001; the identities of donors to a Canadian partnership with the foundation, how­ ever, remain secret.

Why Hillary Clinton thought she’d never be a politician
“I asked her to marry me three times before she said yes,” Clinton recalls, “and the first time I said, ‘I want you to marry me but you shouldn’t do it.’” He told her she was most talented pol of their generation, the most natural leader, with the best command of the issues, and rather than marry him, she should go to Chicago or New York and get into politics.

To which she responded: “Oh my God … I’ll never run for office. I’m too aggressive, and nobody will ever vote for me.”

Clinton pauses, shakes his head. “True story.”

Will George W. Bush paint Bill Clinton?
Aides say Bush can break into discussion about “light values” at any moment, and his easels and paints have taken over a weight room at the family compound in Maine. He has done series on dogs and leaders and, more recently, his granddaughter. He admits that efforts to paint Laura have not been successful; asked if he has tried painting Clinton, Bush pretends to be serious. “I’ve tried and tried and tried.” Then he confesses: “No, I haven’t. I don’t want to ruin friendships.”

“He can’t get my bulbous nose right,” Clinton deadpans.

Read TIME’s cover story, “Game of Thrones: Inside the most surprising alliance in politics.”

TIME Presidents

Presidents Clinton and Bush to Speak Together in Dallas

Former President Bill Clinton and former President George W. Bush speak during the launch of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program at the Newseum in Washington on Sept. 8, 2014.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images Former president Bill Clinton and former president George W. Bush speak during the launch of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program at the Newseum in Washington on Sept. 8, 2014.

Will address the Presidential Leadership Scholars program they helped launch on Thursday

In a rare moment of public kinship between former Commanders-in-Chief, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will appear together in Dallas Thursday to send off the inaugural class of their joint leadership program.

Since the Presidential Leadership Scholars program began in February, the first class of 60 scholars has traveled to four different presidential centers around the country to hear lectures and use case studies to learn core leadership skills. Both Clinton and Bush’s presidential centers participated in the initiative, as well as those of Presidents George H. W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Unveiling the program in Washington, D.C. in September 2014, Clinton said he hoped it would inspire the scholars to “have vigorous debate, serious disagreements, knock-down, drag-out fights, and somehow come to ultimately a resolution that enables the country to keep moving forward.”

Daniel Anello, a graduating scholar and the CEO of a charter school initiative in Chicago, echoed this sentiment when he described his experience. “A recurring topic throughout the program has been a need and want for differing perspectives to come together where there is common ground to solve complex issues,” he said. “When we met with former leaders from various administrations, they pointed out how this had occurred at key moments in our nation’s history and paved the way for some key events that shaped who we are as a country, and frankly, made us better.”

According to Bush, the first class of scholars was comprised of “people from all walks of life and different political persuasions… [And] people who have shown the capacity to succeed.”

Casey Gerald, another graduate who founded a program that sends people getting MBAs out to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs, says this diversity is part of what made the program a success. He describes meeting Bush at his presidential center in Dallas: “Here I was, a poor kid from inner city Dallas who by some divine conspiracy made it to Yale and Harvard Business School, having a conversation with a former president who shares not only both of my alma maters but also now resides in my hometown. That night, it didn’t matter that I was black and he was white, that I was broke and he was wealthy, that he was a former president and I was a common citizen, that he was a conservative and I was a progressive…There’s no program on the planet aside from PLS that could make that happen.”

Clinton and Bush will speak in a moderated discussion at the graduation ceremony at the George W. Bush Presidential Center Thursday afternoon at 5 pm CDT.

TIME Internet

Read Monica Lewinsky’s Moving Speech on Online Shaming

Cannes Lions : Day Five
Marc Piasecki—Getty Images Monica Lewinsky attends the 'Cannes Lions Festival' on June 25, 2015 in Cannes, France.

Read excerpts of her speech provided exclusively to TIME

Monica Lewinsky is back in the spotlight, this time as an activist working to end cyberbullying and online shaming.

Almost two decades after she was thrust into international infamy for her affair with then President Bill Clinton, Lewinsky has emerged as a fierce advocate for victims of online shaming, arguing that her experience as a 22-year-old intern made her “patient zero” of online internet shaming, perhaps the earliest example of what internet shame can do to someone’s life.

In a series of articles and speeches, including a TED Talk earlier this year, Lewinsky says that we all need to work together to create what she calls a “compassionate society.” On Thursday, Lewinsky delivered the Ogilvy + Inspire speech at the Cannes Lions advertising festival on the relationship between the media and public shaming, and what advertising can do about it.

Here are extensive excerpts from her remarks, provided exclusively to TIME:

If you were a brand, what brand would you be?

That’s a question I was asked in an interview. A job interview, just a few years ago. Let me tell you, when you’re Monica Lewinsky, that’s a loaded f*cking question.

All of you here today touch marketing and advertising … with successful, established and respected companies. You are familiar with what it means to shepherd, nurture, shape and grow your brand … and, while unfortunate, it is likely that at one point or another you have been at the center of a “brand crisis” — when your brand’s narrative ran away from you.

But, can you imagine what that is like when the brand, is you? You. Personally. Your likeness. Your name. Your values. Your history. Your soul.

That’s what happened to me in 1998.

Gossip websites, paparazzi, reality programming, politics, news outlets and sometimes hackers all traffic in shame. It’s led to desensitization and a permissive environment online to troll, harass, invade privacy and cyber bully.

This shift, has created what Professor Nicolaus Mills calls … a Culture of Humiliation. And in this Culture of Humiliation, there is another kind of price tag attached to public shaming. The price does not measure the cost to the victim – which Tyler [Clementi] and too many others have paid,but rather, the price measures the profit of those who prey on them.

This violation of others is raw material efficiently and ruthlessly mined, packaged, and… sold at a profit. Whether tallied in dollars, clicks, likes or just the perverse thrill of exposure…A marketplace has emerged … where shame is a commodity. Public humiliation an industry. How is the money made? Clicks.

The more shame, the more clicks; the more clicks, the more advertising dollars. The more advertising dollars — you can see where this is going — the more of what sells … shame.

Of course, this is not an indictment of advertising dollars. Nothing wrong with advertising dollars … and everyone in the room can agree on that!

But I believe we can also agree that there are boundaries where profit halts and social responsibility steps in.

Now, we’re in a dangerous cycle: the more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it … and the more numb we get, the more we click.

All the while, someone is making money off the back of another’s suffering.

Political commentator Sally Kohn pointed out in a Ted talk on clickbait, that because of online algorithms, we … are now co-creating our content by clicking behavior. As she said, “we are the editors of the new media. Clicking is a public act. “

I would argue, a moral act, too. We don’t stop to think that with a click on clickbait, we are entering the online Coliseum.

Building a more compassionate society is going to be a bilateral exercise between individuals and the brands that represent their aspirations, their values and their truths. People make brands. If people are compassionate, brands will be compassionate in return.

We can lead one another to a more compassionate, more empathic place. We can help change behavior. We can all learn from our mistakes and be more resilient. And we can together make a society where the sometimes distancing effect of technology doesn’t remove our fundamental humanity.

All of the most vibrant creative minds in the world are here — and here this week. You are the creative engines that will drive our culture moving forward.

Will you help me?

And so I end, where I began: if you were a brand, what brand would you be?

 

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