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Five Takeaways From The Bill Clinton Interview
In Africa, former President Bill Clinton sat down for an exclusive interview with NBC’s Cynthia McFadden on the work of the Clinton Foundation and the controversy over it in light of wife Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Here are our fivetakeaways from the interview:
1. “There’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else”: Bill Clinton argued that there’s a double standard in American politics where there’s so much scrutiny on the Clinton Foundation’s donors (most of whom are disclosed) than the donations to dark-money organizations like, say, the Koch Brothers’ organizations (which aren’t disclosed). “All I'm saying is the idea that there's one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true,” Clinton said. "The guy that filled out the [990 tax] forms made an error," he added. "Now that is a bigger problem, according to the press, than the other people running for president willing to take dark money, secret money, secret from beginning to end."
2. No quid pro quos: Also in the interview, Clinton maintained that Foundation donations or speaker fees haven’t influenced government policy. "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 said. "That just hasn't happened." He also quoted his wife telling him, "No one has ever tried to influence me by helping you." (FYI: Conservative outlets will have a field day with Clinton’s “knowingly inappropriate” line.)
3. Clinton might step down from the Clinton Foundation if Hillary becomes president: Clinton entertained the idea of stepping down from the Clinton Foundation if wife Hillary wins the White House.
MCFADDEN: If your wife is elected president, will you step down from the foundation?
BILL CLINTON: Well, I'll decide. If-- if it's the right thing to do, I will… MCFADDEN: I mean, why might you step down if she were elected president? CLINTON: Well, I might if I were asked to do something in the public interest that I had an obligation to do. Or I might take less of an executive role. I mean, I really-- I work at this. And I'm involved in this as you can see. So I might do that. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
4.He will continue to give paid speeches:
MCFADDEN: So she's now running for president. Will you continue to give speeches?
BILL CLINTON: Oh yeah.
Clinton added, “I have turned down a lot of [paid speeches]. If I think there's something wrong with it, I don't take it. And I do disclose who gave them to me. So people can make up their own minds.”
5. “When we moved into the White House, we had the lowest net worth of any family since Harry Truman”: Finally, Clinton said it was “laughable” to hear people say that Hillary Clinton can’t relate the middle class. “It’s OK if you inherit your money, apparently,” Clinton said. He added, I'm grateful for our success. But let me remind you. When we moved into the White House, we had the lowest net worth of any family since Harry Truman.”
NBC/WSJ poll: 96% of Americans expect more racially charged unrest
Want proof that the country has paid close attention to what’s happened in Ferguson, Staten Island, and now Baltimore? Don’t miss this BIG number from our new NBC/WSJ poll: “A whopping 96 percent of Americans say that they expect more racially-charged unrest around the country this summer, similar to the past week's violence in Baltimore. And more than half — 54 percent — believe a similar disturbance is likely in the metropolitan area closest to where they live.” More from the poll: “Six-in-10 African-Americans said that the discord in Baltimore is attributable to ‘people with longstanding frustrations about police mistreatment of African Americans that have not been addressed.’ Twenty-seven percent said that the riots were ‘caused by people who used the protests about the death of an African-American man in police custody as an excuse to engage in looting and violence.’ Among whites, those results were almost exactly flipped. Just 32 percent cited longstanding frustration about African-Americans' treatment at the hands of police, while 58 percent said the Baltimore violence was caused by those using Gray's death as an excuse for looting.”
O’Malley: Baltimore would be “central” to my campaign
Speaking of Baltimore, potential presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said on “Meet the Press” that he would make Baltimore “central” to his campaign. (O’Malley previously served as Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor.) “I did not dedicate my life to making Baltimore a safer and more just place because it was easy. And I am more inclined and more deeply motivated now to address what's wrong with our country and what needs to be healed and what needs to be fixed,” he said. “This should be a wakeup call. What's happened in Baltimore should be a wakeup call for the entire country. The protests that also happened in New York, in Philadelphia, and other cities. We have deep problems as a country, and we need deeper understanding if we're going to give our children a better future.” Would he announce his presidential bid in Baltimore? “I wouldn’t think of announcing anyplace else.” By the way, also on the “Meet” yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner agreed that the country is in a national crisis when it comes to the relationship between African Americans and law enforcement.
Three presidential announcements in the next 24 hours -- Fiorina, Carson, Huckabee
Well, two more candidates are entering the presidential field today, and another one goes tomorrow. Earlier this morning, former Hewlett Packard CEO (and failed 2010 Senate candidate) Carly Fiorina tweeted, “I am running for president.” (Fiorina’s announcement video also shows her watching Hillary Clinton’s announcement.) Meanwhile, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson announces his bid at 10:30 am ET from Detroit, MI. And tomorrow, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to make his presidential candidacy official.
NBC/WSJ poll: Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus
Republicans and Democrats can't even agree on what they believe is the biggest issue facing the nation, per our new NBC/WSJ poll. When asked in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which issue should be the top priority for the federal government to address, here were the top first-choice responses among Republicans:
National security and terrorism (27%)
Deficit and government spending (24%)
Job creation and economic growth (21%)
Job creation and economic growth (37%)
Health care (17%)
Climate change (15%)
National security and terrorism (13%)
FYI: The economy dropping to the No. 3 concern among Republican primary voters is a striking departure from March 2012, when it ranked No. 1 (at 36%) — followed by the deficit/government spending (at 35%) and national security/terrorism (at just 8%).
Rest of the NBC/WSJ poll comes out at 6:30 pm ET
Finally, the rest of our NBC/WSJ poll – on the 2016 race, on President Obama, and on so much else – comes out at 6:30 pm ET.