Donald Trump on Monday called for the complete shutdown of the Clinton Foundation, characterizing the nonprofit as a money-making scheme for his Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton is the defender of the corrupt and rigged status quo. The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people,” Trump, the Republican nominee, said in a statement. “It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as Secretary of State was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”
The Clinton Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.
Pressure has mounted against the Clinton Foundation—officially known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation—following the release of Clinton emails earlier this month that show a Clinton Foundation official coordinating efforts with members of Clinton’s State Department staff.
In one email obtained by conservative group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Doug Band, a top official at the Clinton Foundation, asked Clinton’s former State Department aides, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, to find a job for someone within State.
It is “important to take care of (redacted),” Band wrote. Abedin responded, “Personnel has been sending him options.”
“It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”
In an email from 2009, Band told Mills and Abedin that it was “very imp[ortant]” to have the State Department’s “substance person [for] Lebanon” get in touch with Gilbert Chagoury, a billionaire Clinton Foundation donor. Abedin responded that the “substance person” was Jeffrey Feltman, the former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. “I’ll talk to Jeff,” Abedin wrote.
Feltman denied ever meeting with Chagoury.
Trump said the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department was “illegal,” as have other critics. The State Department says it was not influenced by the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton campaign shot down any notion that the emails revealed impropriety.
“Neither of these emails involve the secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work,” Josh Schwerin, a Clinton campaign spokesman, told CNN. “They are communications between her aides and the President’s personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was for one of the Secretary’s former staffers who was not employed by the Foundation.”
Former President Bill Clinton founded the philanthropic organization in 2001 as the William J. Clinton Foundation. It has since gone through a number of iterations and raised some $2 billion from donors, including “corporate titans, political donors, foreign governments, and other wealthy interests,” according to the Washington Post. It has also received more than 5,000 donations of less than $250 from other individuals.
The Clinton Foundation has spearheaded a wide variety of global initiatives, many of which focus on global health, gender and economic inequality, and childhood obesity.
Famously characterized as a corrupt entity in the 2015 book Clinton Cash, written by Peter Schweizer and produced by the Government Accountability Institute—an organization founded by Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign CEO—the Clinton Foundation has long been a focal point for Clinton’s opponents. The harsh light has caused the organization to change its practices in the event of a Clinton presidency.
The Clinton Foundation announced last week that it would no longer accept donations from foreign donors if Clinton wins the White House in November. Bill Clinton also announced last week that he would no longer give paid speeches if his wife becomes president.