In a telephone interview with Jake Tapper on CNN last night, Hillary Clinton addressed her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors as Secretary of State. She explained: “I know there is a lot of smoke, and there is no fire. This AP report? Put it in context. This excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders, plus countless other meetings with U.S. government officials when I was secretary of state. It looked at a small portion of my time,” she said in a telephone interview.
Clinton’s statement represents the Clinton campaign’s talking point on the Associated Press report by Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan. It’s a pathetic talking point. One doesn’t need to be a genius to see through it. The AP has nevertheless issued a statement responding to the Clinton campaign’s talking point:
[The AP] focused on Mrs. Clinton’s meetings and calls involving people outside government who were not federal employees or foreign diplomats, because meeting with U.S. or foreign government officials would inherently have been part of her job as secretary of state.
We focused on Mrs. Clinton’s meetings and calls involving those people outside her duties as secretary of state whom she chose to include in her busy schedule.
Yeah, I noticed that. The statement also provides useful background to the Braun/Sullivan story:
The Associated Press’ reporting relied on publicly available data provided by the State Department about Hillary Clinton’s meetings, phone calls and emails, cross-referenced against donor information provided by the Clinton Foundation and its related charities on its websites.
As AP wrote, our reporting was based on Mrs. Clinton’s calendars covering the entirety of her tenure as secretary of state and on more detailed schedules of meetings and phone calls covering roughly half that period. AP first requested Mrs. Clinton’s calendars and schedules in 2010 and again in 2013 but was unsuccessful. AP then sued the State Department in federal court to obtain the schedules it has received so far. AP expects to receive the remaining files before Election Day and will continue to examine them and report on their contents.