Winding down a two-week trip through Africa and the Middle East, President Clinton continued to defend foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, saying Wednesday that there was "no evidence," of any wrongdoing.
At the Clinton Global Initiative, which organizers said would be the foundation's last big foreign summit as Hillary takes off on the campaign trail, President Clinton addressed Peter Schweizer's new book “Clinton Cash" in a conversation with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
"There's just no evidence," Clinton said, that any foreign donations had influenced his wife during her time as Secretary of State. "Even the guy that wrote the book apparently had to admit under questioning that we didn’t have a shred of evidence for this, we just sort of thought we would throw it out there and see if it flies, and it won't fly."
"It won't fly," he said.
"We had a policy when she [Hillary] was secretary of state that we would only continue accepting money from people that were already giving us money, and I've tried to recreate that policy as nearly as I can now during the campaign, with minor exceptions for our health care work, which we can talk about if you like," the 42nd president added.
"And I think people know that. They understand the enormous percentage of health and development work around the world is funded by governments and multinational organizations, and they fund us because they think we're good and solving problems and taking care ... taking advantage of opportunities," he said.
"But we also have 300,000 other donors and 90 percent of them give $100 or less," he added.
Some 20 donors arrived with the former president following a 10-day swing through the Middle East and Africa and another several dozen high-dollar participants descended on a sprawling golf resort here. With mosaic fountains, gilded floors and courtyard cocktail parties, the lavish event is the last of its kind, the foundation says, at least while Hillary runs for president. Earlier this month, CGI cancelled the upcoming conference in Athens slated for June and announced it would limit future foundation donations to just six Western governments.
But despite the barrage of negative headlines, Clinton took the stage speaking with the unbridled freedom of a former president, not the caution of a presidential candidate’s spouse. He referred to the Islamic State group as an NGO, and brushed off his critics, saying he lacked the anger of a political candidate now that he’s a grandfather.
"In order to be effective [in politics], you probably have to be really mad most of the time. I'm not mad at anybody... My granddaughter's made me happy. I'm just blissfully happy," he said. "I'll probably be a total waste in the politics."
In today's opening session, Mo Ibrahim, a British billionaire of Sudanese descent, a foundation supporter whose daughter sits on the board, lashed out at recent media criticism over big foreign gifts. But the former president didn't wade into the fray.
"What is wrong if Saudi Arabia gives money for a farm in Africa? What’s the big deal?" Ibrahim asked. "I just could not understand. I didn’t see anybody from the foundation standing up."
“You should have stood up and really took issue - what is this money for?... What have you done with it?"
Clinton quipped, "I just work here, I don’t know."
"There is one set of rules for politics in America and another set for real life. And you just have to learn to deal with it,” Clinton said, moving on from the topic.
Earlier this week, Clinton told NBC News he has no regrets about the origins of foundation money and noted that his high-priced speaking schedule is unlikely to slow.
"I gotta make a living," he told the network.
Clinton also fielded a question about how the foundation's work might change course should his wife win the White House.
"Well, if she becomes president, then we have to ask ourselves two questions," Clinton told CNN's Amanpour. "One is, is what we did when she was Secretary of State enough?"
"And secondly," he added, "what does she want me to do?"
And the answer to that question? "I have no idea," he chuckled. "I would do whatever I was asked to do."