TIME Hillary Clinton

How Bill Clinton’s Library Promotes Hillary Too

William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Scott Olson—Getty Images The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The 1992 presidential campaign was sold as two for the price of one

Hillary Clinton worked to expand health care, improve failing schools and served as “America’s foremost ambassador.” And that was just during her time as First Lady.

That’s the portrait painted by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, which despite the name has no shortage of material on Hillary. Around every corner of the Little Rock museum is another testimonial to Hillary’s role in his administration and a reminder that—as he put it in the 1992 campaign—voters got “two for the price of one.”

These days, Hillary Clinton is running as her own woman, stressing her time as U.S. Senator from New York and Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. She’s also moving away from her husband’s record on issues as varied as trade deals, gay rights and policing.

(Bill Clinton can hardly take offense. He even does a bit of that in his own library. In one display, the library tries to distance him from the now-scrapped Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that barred gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. “The law was never applied as intended,” reads a placard.)

Throughout the modern and spacious library, Bill Clinton offers nothing but the predictably glowing account of his wife’s skills and experience as a public servant. Even in failure, as was the case in her push to overhaul the nation’s health care system, Clinton’s library pitches success. “The effort to expand coverage, led by the First Lady, set the stage for step-by-step improvements to our health care system over the next seven years,” reads one caption.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton was tapped to “spearhead” education reform. And in describing her landmark address in China, in which she declared women’s rights are human rights, the library’s displays lauded her: “As America’s foremost ambassador, she brought to Beijing a message of hope, empowerment and social development.”

An inquiry to the library about how the former First Lady is represented and how the exhibits might have changed since they opened in 2004 was referred to a public relations adviser, Jordan Johnson. He did not return phone messages.

Yet not all depictions of Clinton are exactly flattering. After all, it isn’t every museum that has depictions of a spouse on needlepoint or on a quilt. Or includes a pair of cream cowboy boots emblazoned with her initials in gold leather, a gift from a Houston admirer. Or a stitched blanket from a California supporter that includes not just the Clintons’ October wedding date but also daughter Chelsea’s birthday.

At the same time, the scandals of the 1990s are obviously whitewashed and political scores are settled, as is the case at most presidential libraries. The Clintons single out House Speaker Newt Gingrich as pushing the “politics of personal destruction.” The museum reminds visitors that in 1994, shortly before becoming Speaker of the House, Gingrich publicly described Clinton Democrats “the enemy of normal Americans.”

In describing the government shutdowns the followed GOP takeover of Congress, the Clinton library describes Republicans as “rejecting compromise” and bringing “an ideological agenda.”

The library’s take on independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who discovered Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky? “A conservative activist who had never before prosecuted a case.” The resulting impeachment had “no constitutional or legal basis.”

And on the failed land deal known as Whitewater that set off the string of scandals that threatened Clinton’s presidency, the library is terse: “No evidence of wrongdoing was ever found.”

But there is no escaping some of the awkwardness that crept into the Clinton presidency amid the tumult. In a 1998 holiday portrait taken in the White House’s formal Blue Room, the pair is not touching or even looking at each other. Bill Clinton admitted to having an affair with Lewinsky during the summer of that year.

By the following year, facing a shared Republican enemy and the threat of impeachment, the Clintons again were embracing and working as political partners, as the library is fond of portraying them.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Why Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Opponents Only Throw Softballs

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks with a group at an event at Rancho High School in Las Vegas on May 5, 2015.
John Locher—AP Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks with a group at an event at Rancho High School in Las Vegas on May 5, 2015.

Republican presidential candidates are already running hard against Hillary Clinton. Hours before she announced her campaign for president, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul released an online video accusing Clinton of “corruption and cover-up, conflicts of interest,” calling her “the worst of the Washington machine.” Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush challenged her on her use of a personal email account while she was Secretary of State. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz asked a crowd, “How can the American people trust her with another position of power?”

In the Democratic primary, things are very different.

Clinton’s three top likely challengers — former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb — have notably refused to criticize Clinton’s ethics. All three have avoided mentioning her private email account, her handling of the Benghazi attacks in 2012 or the controversy surrounding the Clinton Foundation fundraising, among other popular GOP lines of attack. Aides from several of the emerging campaigns told TIME they don’t plan to do so, either.

“We’re not going down that road,” said Tad Devine, a top advisor for Sanders’ campaign. “We’re not going to run a negative campaign.”

“Jim’s the kind of candidate who’s going to focus on what he wants to talk about and let the media make all the contrast and comparison that are to be made,” said Craig Crawford, spokesman for Webb. “He won’t get in this because he wants to run against somebody.”

Instead, Clinton’s Democratic challengers are taking on her positions on trade, income inequality and foreign policy, arguing either that she’s wrong on the policy or that she’s come to the right position late. When they have been asked about the email or conflicts of interest, they have consistently deflected the question.

Asked in March about Clinton’s use of personal email, O’Malley basically ducked the issue. “I’m not an expert on federal requirements or state requirements, and I’m, frankly, a little sick of the email drama,” O’Malley said. When questioned about Clinton, Webb told a scrum of reporters that the email story is “between her and you all.” Sanders has said repeatedly he wants to run a campaign a debate “over serious issues” and not “political gossip.”

Clinton, for her part, has hardly mentioned her likely challengers for the nomination or she’s been charitable when speaking about them. When Sanders announced his candidacy last week, Clinton amicably tweeted her welcome to the race.

Much of the reticence around staging personal attacks on Clinton comes from her relative strength. She is widely admired in the Democratic Party, while her contenders are relatively unknown at the national level. O’Malley has been in Maryland politics for more than two decades as the state’s governor and a city council member and mayor in Baltimore, while Webb was a one-term Virginia senator. A full 69% of Iowa Democratic voters said they weren’t sure whether they rated Webb favorably or not, a good indication that many first-in-the-nation residents don’t yet know who he is, and 65% said the same of O’Malley, according to a Public Policy Polling survey taken last month.

For O’Malley, Sanders and Webb, a presidential bid would be their introduction to many voters across the country. A first impression as a harsh critic against a widely admired candidate would likely be a poor first impression.

“If you’re a lesser-known candidate and your first introduction to Democrats is a vicious attack on Hillary Clinton, it would backfire completely,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist. “But if you’re trying to become the lefty in the party or new fresh ideas person it helps you to get there to pick a policy argument with her.”

On that front, her challengers are happy to fight.

Though not yet officially a candidate, O’Malley has been the most vocal critic of Clinton’s policies, responding to each position she’s taken. He has drawn contrasts with Clinton on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama initiative loathed by the Democrats’ progressive wing that Clinton called a “gold standard” when she was Secretary of State.

When Clinton tiptoed carefully around the deal last month, O’Malley sent an email to his supporters with the subject line “Hard choice?” and answered the question in the body: “Nope. To me, opposing bad trade deals like TPP is just common sense,” he wrote.

O’Malley also has painted himself as a more forward thinker on same-sex marriage and immigration, pointing out recently that he came to progressive views on both issues before her. “I’m glad Secretary Clinton’s come around to the right positions on these issues,” O’Malley said last month, referring to Maryland’s 2012 legislative approval of gay marriage. “Leadership is about making the right decision, and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular.”

His campaign is likely to continue to make Clinton’s credibility on hot-button policy issues a central part of his campaign against her. Hours after Clinton spoke at a roundtable about her support for immigration reform, O’Malley’s campaign reminded reporters that he was in favor of allowing children fleeing violence in Latin America last year to stay in the United States.

Clinton said at the time that the children needed to be sent back in order to “set an example.”

“When most leaders in the Democratic and Republican parties were saying that we should close our border to children fleeing violence in Central America, he defied them and said that we could not send children ‘back to certain death,'” a spokesperson for O’Malley said. “He was criticized for that position, but leadership is about forging public opinion, not following it.”

The other candidates have chimed in on policy occasionally, too. Before he announced his candidacy, Sanders suggested that Clinton isn’t ready to confront the “billionaire class.” Webb said earlier this month after Clinton gave a speech about criminal justice reform that that he had been talking about those issues “for nine years.”

All the same, Clinton’s likely rivals are keeping personal criticism to a minimum, and most policy distinctions have been indirect references. Left unspoken among them is that if the candidates lose to Clinton, any personal vitriol against her will be remembered in the Democratic Party — and possibly replayed in Republican attack ads — and could hurt their chances for public office in the future.

That means, for now, that the sharpest attacks on Clinton will continue to come from the Republican side.

“By the time it gets to Iowa and New Hampshire, the Republicans are going to be jumping over themselves to attack her. For us to get in any way associated is a liability,” said Devine, Sanders’ advisor. “Bernie is going to try to move toward his own strengths at all times.”

TIME Lincoln Chafee

Lincoln Chafee Is Trying to Re-Run Obama’s 2008 Playbook

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Davenport Chafee Interview
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Lincoln Chafee, governor of Rhode Island, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 29, 2013.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama when he hammered her on her vote in favor of going to war in Iraq. Now, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee wants Clinton to keep paying for that vote in 2016.

Chafee, a Republican turned Independent turned Democrat, is running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination. He hasn’t officially announced yet, he’s still in the exploratory phase, but making it official is something he “plan[s] to do soon.” And when he does, he’s going to make Clinton’s vote for war his central argument against her.

“I always go back to what I call one of the biggest mistakes in American history, the decision to go to war in Iraq,” he told TIME, “and the judgment call made by Senator Clinton.”

Chafee was a Senator at the time too; he served as a Senator from Rhode Island from 1999 to 2007 before he became governor. He voted against the war, and he says that split between him and Clinton highlights a fundamental difference in their common sense.

“That was a critical time in American history, October of 2002, and I made a different judgment call,” he said, again referring to Clinton’s vote in favor of the war. “I think we should have a debate, not only as the Democratic Party first of all, but also in America about where we’re going on in the world and who can make the correct judgment calls as we go forward.”

Even Clinton has publicly regretted her vote. In her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton wrote, “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

Although this linchpin of Chafee’s burgeoning campaign happened over a decade ago and was already used at the center of the 2008 election, Chafee says the so-called “biggest mistake” will resonate just as much with voters today.

“We’re still paying for it,” he said, saying the war will end up costing the country $6 trillion. “We’re paying for it financially in taking care of our brave veterans … but we’re also paying for it overseas … The repair work goes on. It’s relevant to today.”

But polling data shows that voters may not agree. In 2008, a Gallup poll found that Americans cited Iraq as the second most important issue facing the country, behind the economy. In 2015, Gallup separated economic concerns from non-economic issues, but even in the non-economic poll the situation in Iraq came in 15th, after issues like race relations, immigration and education. (No. 1 was dissatisfaction with government.)

Chafee outlined some other policy positions: he supports the Affordable Care Act, he would vote for the Trade Promotion Authority, he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But he kept coming back to Iraq.

Chafee faces a steep uphill battle towards the nomination; so far he’s barely even been included in Democratic primary polling.

He said his biggest challenge will be “getting out to every possible potluck supper and gathering in Iowa and New Hampshire and other states.” But, “I look forward to it, meeting the people. I started my career at the local level … by going door to door … It’s going to be no different in this campaign.”

TIME Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton Says His Policies Put Too Many People in Prison

MOROCCO-CONFERENCE-ECONOMY-DEVELOPMENT
Fadel Senna—/Getty Images Former US president and founding chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Bill Clinton, gestures during the opening session of the CGI Middle East and Africa on May 6, 2015 in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

He laments fallout from the "three strikes" provision

Former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday conceded his administration’s role in the overcrowding of U.S. prisons.

In an interview with CNN, Clinton said the “three-strikes” policy passed while he was in office contributed to over-incarceration. The provision, part of a larger 1994 crime bill, mandates life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions.

“The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison,” Clinton said. “And we wound up… putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives.”

Clinton’s wife Hillary Clinton, who is now running for President, supported the provision in 1994 but has since changed her tune, calling for criminal justice reform and an end to “mass incarceration.”

TIME

What Martin O’Malley Hopes to Learn from Gary Hart

Possible Presidential Candidates Attend South Carolina Democratic Convention
Win McNamee—Getty Images Potential Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-MD) answers questions from reporters after speaking at the South Carolinna Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.

Top veterans of Gary Hart's presidential campaigns are lining up behind O'Malley with advice and money

Martin O’Malley has been known to call Doug Wilson from a pay phone when something important is about to happen.

The habit began during Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential bid, when the 20-year-old volunteer O’Malley reported to then-deputy campaign manager Wilson from the trail in Iowa, Texas and Pennsylvania. Years later, as a Baltimore prosecutor, O’Malley called Wilson when he decided to run for Baltimore City Council in 1991, and then again when he ran for Baltimore mayor.

“Martin would say, ‘I’m calling from a pay phone. Here’s what I’m about to do. Are you with me?’” Wilson recalled. “And of course I was.”

Now, O’Malley is preparing to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he talks regularly with Wilson and at least a dozen other alumni of Hart’s presidential campaigns about his platform, campaign strategy and fundraising. It makes sense, as both Hart and O’Malley share a technocratic pragmatism about policy, and O’Malley hopes to replicate Hart’s come-from-nowhere surge against former Vice President Walter Mondale in his race against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

For many former Hart staffers, O’Malley’s all-but-certain run is a way to get back some of the spirit of 1984.

“It’s almost like ghosts from the past, people who never gave up believing they could make a difference in the country, are coming back to support Martin,” said Wilson, who went on to serve as the senior Pentagon spokesman during President Obama’s first term.

Like Hart in 1984, O’Malley faces a long and unlikely path to the Democratic nomination. Despite his frequent appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire and long tenure in Maryland politics, he lacks a national profile and barely registers in most polls. If he runs, he’ll face Hillary Clinton, who has the broad support of the Democratic establishment, and Bernie Sanders, an underdog candidate who nonetheless has a strong claim on the progressive wing of the party.

Read more: Could This Man Beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa?

But supporters say that O’Malley’s campaign could quickly take hold in Iowa or New Hampshire, where restive caucus-goers are looking for a contested race. The model for a surge against Hillary Clinton? Hart’s surprise 1984 campaign against Mondale, when the virtually unknown senator from Colorado nearly took the nomination from the establishment-backed candidate.

O’Malley “has a lot of similarities to Hart in 1984,” says Hal Haddon, a Hart alum and informal O’Malley advisor. “Hart had no money or fundraising base, and Martin now has a unique ability to attract a small-donor base by casting a really broad net.”

Once a towering figure in the Democratic Party, Hart bred a close group of well-connected partisans during his two presidential bids that today include a senator (Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire), activists, high-profile politicians and businessmen. The veterans of Hart’s 1984 and 1988 campaigns remained in close contact over the years, and they regularly dispense advice to O’Malley. Federal records show they also donate heavily to the likely candidate’s political action committee.

“That was a tight-knit group and I was on the other side of it,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who helped on Mondale’s campaign against Hart. (Trippi is not advising O’Malley.) “When you get that close under fire in the trenches together, it makes sense that you’re helping them on their own campaign.”

Though allegations of a sex scandal ended Hart’s campaign in 1987, early polls indicated he had a strong lead, and many Democrats still see the former senator as a visionary thinker. Hart has said he would support O’Malley if he runs.

When he began volunteering on Hart’s campaign in 1983, O’Malley was one of the youngest in the bunch. He slept on couches in Iowa, visited farmers and store clerks, and brought his guitar with him. He was ambitious and focused, his allies say, and deeply committed to Hart. In Texas, he camped out for three months under a campaign staffer’s staircase, leading a couple fellow volunteers in campaign outreach. It was Hart himself who bought O’Malley his first legal beer on his twenty-first birthday.

“The experience we had knocking up Walter Mondale in ‘84 was an enormous bonding experience for all of us involved, and we stayed close,” said Dan Calegari, a staffer on both Hart’s campaigns.

Calegari is closely involved in helping arrange the former governor’s visits to New Hampshire and meetings with constituents, including his upcoming trip on May 13, and O’Malley sang at Calegari’s wedding rehearsal dinner. “I know the players. I know the people who are not committed to Hillary,” said Calegari. “I’ve got a network of friends who I brought into the Hart campaign in the ’80s.”

O’Malley has a few paid policy advisors and he is building out a campaign staff that includes finance directors and press. But for much of his pre-campaign thinking, O’Malley relies on an informal network of old friends and allies.

Hal Haddon was working on Hart’s ’84 campaign when he first met O’Malley. Haddon said he remembers O’Malley circling the Democratic National Convention in 1984, trying to dissuade delegates from voting for Mondale. “He was incredibly earnest, and he really cared about Hart’s candidacy,” said Haddon.

Now, the two discuss economics and environmental policy a couple times a month, Haddon says, in a “concrete way.”

“Not just tax reform,” said Haddon, “but a fundamental restructuring so it doesn’t disadvantage 99.9% of the population.” Haddon also contributed several thousand dollars to O’Malley’s PAC between 2012 and 2014, according to recent FEC records.

Wilson, Hart’s former deputy campaign manager, advises O’Malley regularly about foreign policy, an area where the former governor and Baltimore mayor has little personal experience. They kibitz about trade, security, surveillance and America’s role in the world, said Wilson, now a senior fellow at the Truman Project. “I think Martin has a sense of America’s role in the world as being able to adapt to and master change, and not be victim to it,” Wilson said.

O’Malley has profited from his relationships with Hart alumni as governor. John Emerson, a former deputy campaign manager for Hart, organized a fundraiser for O’Malley in 2006 when he ran for governor. (Emerson is now the ambassador to Germany.)

The relationships have helped Hart alumni, too. Billy Shore was a close aide to Hart in the 1980s during his presidential campaigns and remained in contact with O’Malley after the 1980s. He and his sister, Debbie, co-founded a non-profit called Share Our Strength with the goal of combating child hunger. O’Malley’s administration funded the non-profit nearly $400,000 for operational costs, and committed millions of dollars to child nutrition programs that Shore advocated for.

O’Malley also appeared in a video for the non-profit’s work and was one of the states that assisted Shore’s non-profit the most. Last year, Billy and Debbie contributed several thousands dollars to O’Malley’s PAC.

“It was unlike a usual relationship when an organization like ours is actively lobbying. The lobbying was coming from him,” said Billy Shore.

A number of other Hart alums have been in touch with O’Malley recently, including John Pouland, Hart’s Texas coordinator in 1984, and Mike Stratton, a Democratic strategist and Hart alum who donated $5,000 to O’Malley’s PAC last year, the maximum amount allowable.

“He’s got a lot of us on his side,” said another Hart veteran and advisor to O’Malley who asked not to be named because of his current job. “His friends have stuck with him.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Draws Distinction With GOP on Immigration

Republican policies would create a "second-class status" for immigrants, she argued

Hillary Clinton drew a sharp distinction Tuesday between herself and the 2016 Republican hopefuls on immigration reform, and called for a full path to citizenship for people who came to the U.S. illegally.

“Today, not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential is clearly consistent in supporting a path to citizenship,” the former Secretary of State said in prepared remarks before a round table at a high school in Nevada. “When they talk about ‘legal status,’ that is code for second-class status.”

Calling immigration a family and an economic issue, Clinton said she supported expanding programs for so-called Dreamers to help parents of immigrant children stay in the United States.

Clinton raised eyebrows in June when she said that the unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America should not be allowed to stay in the U.S. “to send a clear message.” Immigration activists expect Clinton to firmly embrace comprehensive immigration reform as a central part of her platform in 2016.

In response to a question from one of the round-table participants, Clinton said she would make immigration reform one of her first initiatives if elected.

“We should put in place a simple, straightforward and accessible way for parents of Dreamers and others with a history of service and contributions to their community to make their case and to be eligible for the same deferred action as their children,” she said.

TIME 2016 Election

Democrats Take Fire for Exclusivity Clause in Official Debates

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University on April 29, 2015 in New York City.
Kevin Hagen—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University on April 29, 2015 in New York City.

The Democratic National Committee is coming under fire for its takeover of the presidential primary debate process.

Just minutes after announcing that it will only sanction six contests and that candidates who appear in any debate outside of those six will be barred from attending a sanctioned debate, Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for likely Democratic contender former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley criticized the small number of debates and the exclusivity requirement.

“If Governor O’Malley decides to run, we will expect a full, robust, and inclusive set of debates — both nationally and in early primary and caucus states,” she said in a statement to reporters. ”This has been customary in previous primary seasons. In a year as critical as 2016, exclusivity does no one any favors.”

The DNC said the six debate number was the jumping off point in 2004 and 2008 but it was quickly overridden by candidates and news outlets wanting more. In 2008, Democrats faced off more than 20 times before President Obama won the nomination.

“The precedent that was set was six, but there was no mechanism controlling that,” said DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee. “We’ve always said that we’d like to come up with a number and stick with it.”

“Every now and then Republicans have ideas that aren’t so terrible, and this was one of them,” he added of the exclusivity clause.

But an aide to one Democratic 2016 aspirant said they were taken aback by the exclusivity clause. “In the discussions that the DNC had with potential 2016 candidates, they explicitly said there would be no exclusivity clause and it was a shock to see that they included one in their press release today,” the aide said. “It was all an elaborate game where everything was worked out in advance with the Clinton people,” the aide alleged.

Elleithee declined to detail the nature of internal conversations the DNC conducted with candidates and campaigns, including whether the exclusivity clause was a late addition to the parameters.

“I have been involved in debate negotiations for various campaigns for nearly 20 years and they are almost always have some people who want more and some people who want fewer,” Elleithee said.

Appearing on stage with Clinton would be a significant credibility boost to the likely Democratic field, which includes lesser-known figures like O’Malley, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. Clinton aides understandably want to limit her opposition’s potential for a breakout moment on stage, while protecting a candidate who who occasionally struggled during the 2008 primary debates. Minutes after the DNC announced its debate plans, Clinton tweeted her support.

Elleithee added that campaigns were given a heads up about the press release Tuesday morning before it was sent out. But a spokesman for likely presidential aspirant Jim Webb said the former senator’s team had not discussed the debates “internally or externally.”

Additional reporting by Sam Frizell

TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton Says Nothing ‘Knowingly Inappropriate’ in Foundation’s Foreign Money

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.
Win McNamee—Getty Images Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.

The former president has no regrets about taking foreign cash

The Clinton family’s charity has never done anything “knowingly inappropriate,” former President Bill Clinton said in a new interview, as the controversy surrounding foreign donations rattles Hillary Clinton’s weeks-old presidential bid.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy,” he told NBC. “That just hasn’t happened.”

Clinton denied allegations that his family’s foundation took money from donors who sought to influence U.S. foreign policy during his wife’s tenure as Secretary of State. In a new book, conservative author Peter Schweizer claims that Hillary Clinton’s State Department gave special treatment to foundation donors.

Bill Clinton said he still has no regrets about accepting millions in foreign donations—despite recently changing his foundation’s rules again to accept only contributions from six Western governments.

“It’s an acknowledgement that we’re going to come as close as we can during her presidential campaign to following the rules we followed when she became Secretary of State,” Clinton told NBC, referring to the foundation’s agreement during Hillary’s tenure at the state department to disclose all foreign contributions. (Foreign governments, however, had continued to give anonymously to a Foundation branch in Canada, where law guarantees privacy to donors.)

Bill Clinton said he is “proud” of the foundation’s work. “There has never been anything like the Clinton Global Initiative,” Clinton told NBC, “where you’ve raised over $100 billion worth of stuff that helped 43 million people in 180 countries.”

[NBC]

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