First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Everything you wanted to know about the Clinton Foundation-money story but were afraid to ask
With the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising practices once again in the news as Hillary Clinton runs for president -- especially with a new controversial book on the subject -- here are the basics of what you need to know:
- ORIGINAL CONCERN ABOUT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
At Hillary Clinton’s Jan. 13, 2009 confirmation hearing to be secretary of state, then-Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) summed up the potential conflict of interest between the Clinton Foundation receiving donations from foreign countries and Clinton’s new job. “The core of the problem is that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state. Although neither Senator Clinton nor President Clinton has a personal financial stake in the foundation, obviously its work benefits their legacy and their public service priorities.”
Hillary Clinton agreed about the perception problem. “[T]he foundation and the president-elect decided to go beyond what the law and the ethics rules call for to address even the appearance of conflict and that is why they signed a memorandum of understanding, which outlines the voluntary steps that the foundation is taking to address potential concerns that might come up down the road.”
- THE MEMO OF UNDERSTANDING
The “Memo of Understanding” that Hillary Clinton reached with the Obama administration had two main objectives:
-- to prohibit President Clinton from soliciting funds or accepting foreign-government contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI);
-- to disclose foreign countries that INCREASED their commitments to all Clinton Foundation entities, or that became a NEW contributor
(The memo of understanding was signed by Valerie Jarrett and Bruce Lindsey of the Clinton Foundation. It also was under supervision by John Kerry and Dick Lugar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- THE 2010 ALGERIA DONATION
In Feb. 2015, we learned that the Clinton Foundation FAILED TO DISCLOSE a $500,000 donation in 2010 to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti. This was a NEW donation, and thus should have been disclosed to the State Department.
The Clinton Foundation issued a statement saying that the donation SHOULD have been disclosed. "Immediately following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, the Embassy of Algeria made an unsolicited donation of $500K to Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief fund. As the Clinton Foundation did with all donations it received for earthquake relief, the entire amount of Algeria's contribution was distributed as aid in Haiti. This donation was disclosed publicly on our website, however, the State Department should have also been formally informed. This was a one-time, specific donation to help Haiti and Algeria had not donated to the Clinton Foundation before and has not since."
- CURRENT POLICY NOW THAT THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY
The Clinton Foundation is no longer accepting new donations from foreign governments. But it is still CONTINUING existing programs that were up and running before Hillary began her campaign. There are six countries that had EXISTING programs -- Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the U.K. As a Clinton Foundation official tells NBC News, “You just can’t pull the plug” on existing programs, especially when they involve multi-year grants.
Also under current policy, all disclosures will be listed quarterly instead of yearly (as was the case under the older Memo of Understanding). And after the Clinton Global Initiative completes its already-planned Morocco conference, it will no longer have foreign countries sponsor or co-sponsor CGI events.
Hillary’s Day 2 in New Hampshire
Hillary Clinton has a 10:20 am ET event in Concord, NH, where she’ll focus on community college programs.
On the trail
Chris Christie speaks at the Washington Conference on the Americas at 12:25 pm ET… Carly Fiorina has events in Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Denison, IA… And former President Bill Clinton gives an address on public service at Georgetown University at 10:30 am ET.
A breakthrough on Loretta Lynch and the anti-trafficking bill?
It looks that way. Politico: “The Senate is nearing a resolution to a monthlong dispute that’s halted a human trafficking bill and confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, even as Minority Leader Harry Reid on Monday resumed his rhetorical assault on Republicans for the delay.” More: “Top sources in both parties — and even Reid himself — said negotiators had made headway toward a compromise on abortion language included in the sex trafficking bill that Democrats have strongly opposed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed that the trafficking bill must be completed before the Senate votes to confirm Lynch.”
Yet ANOTHER Republican says no to running for FL SEN
This is getting weirder and weirder. “Two weeks after floating the idea of a 2016 run for U.S. Senate, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, said today he has decided against seeking the seat Sen. Marco Rubio is giving up to run for president,” the Palm Beach Post writes. “‘For the last several days I considered running for the U.S. Senate representing the great state of Florida. While I feel like I could mount a successful statewide campaign, the toll I believe the process would take on my family is something I cannot put them through,’ Rooney said in a statement released by his office.”