In Wednesday’s debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Hillary Clinton about allegations of “pay-to-play” corruption involving Clinton Foundation donors during Clinton’s time as secretary of state. Trump called the Clinton Foundation’s actions in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake “a disgrace.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton faced off Wednesday night in Las Vegas in the final debate before the November 8th election.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to look at the Clinton Foundation, or at least their debate over it. This is debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.
CHRIS WALLACE: In this bucket about fitness to be president, there’s been a lot of developments over the last 10 days, since the last debate. I’d like to ask you about—about them. These are questions that the American people have.
Secretary Clinton, during your 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, you promised to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with your dealing with the Clinton Foundation while you were secretary of state, but emails show that donors got special access to you. Those seeking grants for Haiti relief were considered separately from non-donors, and some of those donors got contract—government contracts, taxpayer money. Can you really say that you kept your pledge to that Senate committee? And why isn’t what happened and what went on between you and the Clinton Foundation—why isn’t it what Mr. Trump calls “pay to play”?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, everything I did as secretary of state was in furtherance of our country’s interests and our values. The State Department has said that. I think that’s been proven.
But I am happy, in fact, I am thrilled, to talk about the Clinton Foundation, because it is a world-renowned charity, and I am so proud of the work that it does. You know, I could talk for the rest of the debate; I know I don’t have the time to do that. But, just briefly, the Clinton Foundation made it possible for 11 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS to afford treatment, and that’s about half of all the people in the world who are getting treatment. In partnership with the American Health Association—
CHRIS WALLACE: Secretary Clinton—
HILLARY CLINTON: —we have made environments in schools healthier for kids, including healthier lunches.
CHRIS WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, respectfully, this is—this is an open discussion.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it is an open discussion. And you—
CHRIS WALLACE: I understand. And the specific question went to pay for play. Do you want to talk about that, Mr. Trump?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, but there is no—
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think—
HILLARY CLINTON: But there is no evidence—but there is—
DONALD TRUMP: Look, I think that it’s been very well studied—
CHRIS WALLACE: Let’s ask Mr. Trump.
HILLARY CLINTON: There is a lot of evidence about the very good work—
DONALD TRUMP: It’s been very well studied.
HILLARY CLINTON: —and the high rankings—
DONALD TRUMP: And it’s a criminal enterprise, and so many people know it.
CHRIS WALLACE: Please let Mr. Trump speak.
HILLARY CLINTON: —that the children—that the Clinton Foundation have gotten for their work.
DONALD TRUMP: It’s a criminal enterprise. Saudi Arabia giving $25 million, Qatar, all of these countries. You talk about women and women’s rights? So, these are people that push gays off business—off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money. So I’d like to ask you right now: Why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money? I think it would be a great gesture.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well—
DONALD TRUMP: Because she takes a tremendous amount of money. And you take a look at the people of Haiti. I was in Little Haiti the other day in Florida. And I want to tell you, they hate the Clintons, because what’s happened in Haiti with the Clinton Foundation is a disgrace. And you know it, and they know it, and everybody knows it.
CHRIS WALLACE: Secretary Clinton?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, very quickly, we at the Clinton Foundation spend 90 percent—90 percent—of all the money that is donated on behalf of programs of people around the world and in our own country. I’m very proud of that. We have the highest rating from the watchdogs that follow foundations. And I’d be happy to compare what we do with the Trump Foundation, which took money from other people and bought a six-foot portrait of Donald. I mean, who does that? It just was astonishing.
But when it comes to Haiti, Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere. The earthquake and the hurricanes, it has devastated Haiti. Bill and I have been involved in trying to help Haiti for many years. The Clinton Foundation raised $30 million to help Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake and all of the terrible problems the people there had. We’ve done things to help small businesses, agriculture and so much else. And we’re going to keep working to help Haiti—
CHRIS WALLACE: All right.
HILLARY CLINTON: —because it’s an important part of the American experience.
CHRIS WALLACE: I want to—
DONALD TRUMP: They don’t want you to help them anymore.
CHRIS WALLACE: I wanted—I want to—
DONALD TRUMP: I’d like to—I’d like to mention one thing. Trump Foundation, small foundation. People contribute, I contribute. The money goes 100 percent—100 percent goes to different charities, including a lot of military. I don’t get anything. I don’t buy boats. I don’t buy planes. What happens is, the money goes in—
CHRIS WALLACE: Wasn’t some of the money—wasn’t some of the money used to settle your lawsuits, sir?
DONALD TRUMP: No, it was—we put up the American flag. And that’s it. They put up the American flag. We fought for the right in Palm Beach to put up the American flag.
CHRIS WALLACE: Right, but there was a—there was a penalty that was imposed by Palm Beach County.
DONALD TRUMP: There was.
CHRIS WALLACE: And the money came from your foundation—
DONALD TRUMP: There was. And, by the way, the money—
CHRIS WALLACE: —instead of Mar-a-Lago or yourself, sir.
DONALD TRUMP: —the money went to Fisher House, where they build houses—the money that you’re talking about went to Fisher House, where they build houses for veterans and disabled vets.
CHRIS WALLACE: I want to get into one last—
HILLARY CLINTON: But, of course, there’s no way we can know whether any of that is true, because he hasn’t released his tax returns. He is the first candidate ever to run for president, in the last 40-plus years, who has not released his tax returns. So, everything he says about charity or anything else, we can’t prove it. You can look at our tax returns. We’ve got them all out there.
But what is really troubling is that we learned in the last debate he has not paid a penny in federal income tax. And we were talking about immigrants a few minutes ago, Chris. You know, half of all immigrants, undocumented immigrants in our country, actually pay federal income tax. So, we have undocumented immigrants in America who are paying more federal income tax than a billionaire.
CHRIS WALLACE: I want to ask—
HILLARY CLINTON: I find that just astonishing.
DONALD TRUMP: So let me just tell you, very simply, we’re entitled, because of the laws that people like her pass, to take massive amounts of depreciation on other charges, and we do it. And all of her donors, just about all of them—I know Buffett took hundreds of millions of dollars. Soros, George Soros, took hundreds of millions of dollars.
CHRIS WALLACE: We—we—
DONALD TRUMP: Let me just explain.
CHRIS WALLACE: But, no, but we’ve heard this—
DONALD TRUMP: All of her donors—most of her donors—
CHRIS WALLACE: Mr. Trump—
DONALD TRUMP: —have done the same thing as I do.
CHRIS WALLACE: We—OK. We—
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, in fact—
DONALD TRUMP: And you know what she should have done?
CHRIS WALLACE: Folks, we heard this in—
DONALD TRUMP: And, you know, Hillary, what you should have done? You should have changed the law when you were a United States senator, if you don’t like it.
CHRIS WALLACE: Folks, we heard this—
HILLARY CLINTON: Yeah.
DONALD TRUMP: —because your donors and your special interests are doing the same thing as I do, except even more so.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, you know—
DONALD TRUMP: You should have changed the law. But you won’t change the law, because you take in so much money. I mean, I sat in my apartment today on a very beautiful hotel down the street, known as Trump—
HILLARY CLINTON: Made with Chinese steel.
DONALD TRUMP: But I will tell you, I sat there. I sat there watching ad after ad after ad—false ad—all paid for by your friends on Wall Street that gave so much money because they know you’re going to protect them. And, frankly, you should have changed the laws.
CHRIS WALLACE: Mr. Trump—
DONALD TRUMP: If you don’t like what I did, you should have changed the laws.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparring in the last debate before the November 8th election.