The Clintons and their non-profit Clinton Foundation have done a “tremendous amount of good work” and the barrage of attacks questioning their integrity is strictly election-year politics, political commentator and best-selling author Joe Conason told Newsmax TV.
Too much smoke
“I think there’s a lot of political smoke created this year,” Conason, author of the new book, “Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton,” told J.D. Hayworth on “America Talks Live.”
“In the end you’ll see that the Clinton Foundation has done tremendous amount of good work, saved millions of people’s lives and that these political attacks are just that . . . Up until now, you could go to the Clinton Global Initiative every year and you would see lot of Republicans there.
“Republican businessmen, Republican candidates, Mitt Romney spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012 and praised its work. But this year because Hillary Clinton is running for president . . . we’ve seen hundreds of attacks on the Clinton Foundation’s work, and I think most of them are not well-founded.”
“I went to Africa for the first time with President Clinton in 2005 in the summer on an assignment for Esquire Magazine to write a profile of him . . . and saw how his foundation was beginning to make a dent in the world’s decision to let millions of Africans die from AIDS without providing treatment,” Conason said.
“By then we had most people in the West on treatment. Even as expensive as it was but somehow the global public health authorities had come to a decision that it was too expensive to treat people in the developing world.
“Clinton and others decided that was an immoral decision. It would’ve led to as many as 100 million deaths and generations of development set back in Africa. They were trying to find a way to do that. By 2005, they had begun to actually be able to do that. I was very impressed.”
The foundation’s tackling of the African AIDS epidemic also spawned imitators, according to Conason.
“President Clinton had been looking at that problem for about a year after he left the White House and decided to get his foundation involved. In December 2002, he wrote an op-ed article saying as the world we have to do something about this,” he said.
“A month or so later President Bush completely on his own came up with what became to be known as PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, which was I think the best thing he did as president in many ways.
Mission of Mercy
“Inspired by the evangelical community, which had itself decided that something had to be done; a mission of mercy, to help people in Africa with this enormous problem. Although there was some friction at first . . . between the Bush and Clinton programs, eventually they ended up working together.”
Conason said the program, as it was set up by Clinton and his aides, did a “tremendous amount of good” and “many, many people’s lives have been saved.”
Still, questions about the foundation have continued to dog the Clintons, including a number of controversial foreign donations the non-profit has received, and most recently, a shocking revelation it gave away “watered-down” HIV/AIDs drugs to patients in sub-Saharan Africa.
Morbidity and mortality
The latter charge came in a congressional report, titled, “The Clinton Foundation and The India Success Story,” which also highlighted the drugs “likely increased” the risks of morbidity and mortality, the Daily Caller reported this week.
But Conason said the program is being carefully monitored. “This program has been audited and looked at by the development departments of world governments including the United Kingdom. It’s been audited by [Microsoft founder] Bill Gates and his foundation, who has contributed a lot of money to it and by the UN,” Conason told Hayworth.
Ill founded accusations
“I think it’s not a coincidence that those kinds of accusations and many others which are ill-founded have come up during an election year.”
Conason said he does not agree with the arguments of some lawmakers “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” regarding the Clintons.
“I spent years writing about the Whitewater investigation where there was so much smoke that the entire country was choking and we spent $70 million investigating and it turned out to be zero,” he said.
“The Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative have been going on for 15 years now. The controversy has erupted over the past year, since she decided to run for president. I think if the election is over, you’ll see the controversy subside, as it has done every time in the past.
Released tax returns
“I think the Clintons have come under this scrutiny — you know why? — because they’ve released their taxes almost every year for the past 40 years. That’s the only reason we know about all these [highly paid] speeches [they’ve made] since they’ve both been out of office.