The New York Times editorial board on Tuesday implored Hillary Clinton to distance herself from the Clinton Foundation and ban contributions from foreign donors now rather than waiting until the conclusion of the 2016 presidential race.
“The Clinton Foundation has become a symbol of the Clintons’ laudable ambitions, but also of their tangled alliances and operational opacity,” the board wrote. “If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries. Achieving true distance from the foundation is not only necessary to ensure its effectiveness, it is an ethical imperative for Mrs. Clinton.”
Donald Trump and other critics of the family have already latched onto State Department emails that show the former secretary of state met privately with donors to the foundation during her time in office.
The Times’ editors denied Trump’s assertion of a “pay-to-play” system, noting there is no evidence that Clinton gave special favors to those donors. But the board wrote, “Trump has reason to say that while Mrs. Clinton was secretary, it was hard to tell where the foundation ended and the State Department began.”
The Trump campaign jumped on the editorial, releasing a statement that block-quoted large sections.
“The fact that even the liberal New York Times thinks the Clinton Foundation presents an unacceptable conflict of interest is a devastating rebuke of Hillary Clinton’s poor judgment and broken ethical compass,” campaign spokesman Jason Miller said in the statement.
The foundation stopped accepting contributions from most foreign governments at the start of Clinton’s presidential campaign. If Clinton is elected, officials have said the foundation will no longer accept donations from any foreign government or corporation. U.S. corporations would also be barred from donating, and Bill Clinton has said he would step down from the foundation board.
According to the Times’ board, a “wiser course” to reassure voters wary of any ethical murkiness would be to take those steps now.