Emails show Clinton treading lightly with Wall Street talks
WASHINGTON >> Hillary Clinton generally avoided direct criticism of Wall Street as she examined the causes and responses to the financial meltdown during a series of paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, according to transcripts disclosed by WikiLeaks.
Three transcripts released Saturday as part of the hack of her campaign chairman’s emails did not contain any new bombshells showing she was unduly influenced by contributions from the banking industry, as her primary rival Bernie Sanders had suggested. Still, her softhanded approach in the speeches was likely to act as a reminder to liberals in the party of their concerns that the Democratic presidential nominee is too close to Wall Street to be an effective check on its excesses if elected.
In October 2013, the transcripts show, Clinton told bankers she had “great relations” and worked closely with Wall Street as New York’s senator, and said “the jury is still out” on whether the Dodd-Frank financial reforms put in place after the financial crisis had been the right approach. She said more openness from the start could have prevented the uproar on Wall Street over those reforms.
“What happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out, and let’s make sure that we do it right this time,” she said.
Working to relate her speech to her audience, Clinton in one speech likened her experience as secretary of state to business and finance, saying “it’s like anybody’s balance sheet,” with both opportunities and potential liabilities. In one exchange, a conference participant from Texas told Clinton that she had “the honor to raise money for you” during her 2008 presidential campaign.
Clinton responded, “You are the smartest people.”
In the hard-fought Democratic primary, Sanders repeatedly called on Clinton to release the transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street, some of which earned her hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. In an ironic twist, the transcripts ended up becoming public because her campaign aides had distributed them among themselves in an effort to prepare for any attacks she might face. Those internal campaign emails were then leaked in the hack of campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
Clinton’s campaign neither confirmed nor denied that the speech transcripts and leaked Podesta emails are authentic, but there have been no indications that they were doctored before being released. Clinton’s team has accused Russia’s government of hacking Podesta’s emails, and the Obama administration has formally blamed Moscow for a series of breaches affecting U.S. political groups.
“There is no getting around it: Donald Trump is cheering on a Russian attempt to influence our election through a crime reminiscent of Watergate, but on a more massive scale,” said Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin.
The transcripts, all from 2013, include speeches and question-and-answer sessions with Clinton at a “Builders and Innovators Summit,” an “Alternative Investment Management Summit” and a gathering of CEOS — all hosted by Goldman Sachs.