Report: Half Clinton’s State meetings were with donors; campaign says schedule ‘cherry-picked’

Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON,  (UPI) — A spokesman for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called a report suggesting donors to the Clinton Foundation were granted greater access to the State Department “outrageous.”

The Associated Press’ lengthy investigation into Clinton’s private meetings have renewed Republican calls for a special prosecutor to investigate alleged pay-to-play policies with the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was secretary of state.

The report published Tuesday showed that during the first two years of her term as secretary of state, more than half of Clinton’s non-government meetings were with individuals or groups that had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

The AP reported that, according to an analysis of her personal calendar and contact information, 85 of the 154 meetings Clinton had with individuals who were not U.S. or foreign government employees were with foundation donors, a rate that calls into question whether donations to the Clinton Foundation were the cost of personal meetings and assistance from a powerful government minister.

The report also documented several instances where Clinton acted or spoke on behalf of those foundation donors to further their personal and philanthropic interests.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said the AP report is misleading because it only focuses on one small subset of Clinton’s day-to-day activities and duties while she was secretary.

“It cherry-picked a limited subset of Secretary Clinton’s schedule to give a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation,” Fallon said of the story. “It is outrageous to misrepresent Secretary Clinton’s basis for meeting with these individuals.”

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said in a statement released by the Trump campaign the AP report merits the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate ethical lapses and potential wrongdoing in Clinton’s State Department.

“The fact Hillary Clinton’s official schedule was full of meetings with Clinton Foundation donors is further evidence of the pay-to-play politics at her State Department. No one is above the law,” Pence said in the statement. “The Clinton Foundation must be immediately shut down and an independent special prosecutor be appointed to determine if access to Hillary Clinton was for sale. It would be a dereliction of duty by President Obama and his Justice Department if they fail to act on these startling new facts right now.”

Earlier in the week, Trump called for a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the Justice Department has proven through its decision not to pursue criminal charges that it is biased toward Clinton in the case.

Other Republicans joined Pence’s call for a special prosecutor.

“The evidence is clear — it’s time a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate the growing proof of pay-to-play at Hillary Clinton’s State Department,” Republican National Committee chairman Rence Priebus said. “This is among the strongest and most unmistakable pieces of evidence of what we’ve long suspected: at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, access to the most sensitive policy makers in U.S. diplomacy was for sale to the highest bidder.”

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a prominent Trump supporter, said Clinton’s acceptance of donations from those seeking her assistance was akin to extortion.

“The fundamental thing is you cannot be Secretary of State of the United States of America and use that position to extort or seek contributions to your private foundation. That is a fundamental violation of the law and that does appear to have happened,” Sessions told CNN.

The Clinton campaign said the AP report was misleading because it excluded the hundreds of meetings Clinton had with individuals in the United States and foreign governments who had nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation.

The AP said it did not include those meetings in its tally because, presumably, meetings with government officials were part of the daily duties for any secretary of state and would have occurred even if someone else was in the job.

The AP’s report was based on an analysis of Clinton’s personal calendar and call sheets maintained by her closest aides — documents the AP received after filing a lawsuit against the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act.