Last Friday, excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and other banks were leaked online by WikiLeaks, following up the leak of thousands of emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
The leak revealed that Clinton paid some $225,000 per speech, and that she received more than $22 million in return for the paid speaking circuit after stepping down as Secretary of State.
The speeches in question had attracted speculation during the Democratic primary, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s competition at the time, claimed the speeches evinced her tight relationship with Wall Street.
The transcripts were exposed via an email dating back to January 25, 2016. The subject line read: “HRC Paid Speeches,” and came from Tony Carrk, Research Director of the Clinton campaign. The email was addressed to Chairman Podesta, along with other top campaign officials.
Carrk, who didn’t respond to a request for comment, highlighted in the memo the quotes from each paid speech that would be most damaging to Clinton’s campaign, with headers like: “CLINTON ADMITS SHE IS OUT OF TOUCH,” “CLINTON SAYS YOU NEED TO HAVE A PRIVATE AND PUBLIC POSITION ON POLICY,” and “CLINTON REMARKS ARE PRO KEYSTONE AND PRO TRADE.”
Clinton used the speeches as an opportunity to discuss policy and politics, as well as how she planned on governing. She also offered her perspective on creating financial regulations, telling a crowd of Goldman Sachs bankers that, to “figure out what works,” the “people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”
And at the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit, Clinton was questioned by Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, who pointed out that you “go to Washington” to “make a small fortune.” Clinton agreed with the comment, saying, “There is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives.”
At a speech for Morgan Stanley on April 18, 2013, Clinton addressed the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan that would reduce corporate tax rates and raise the Social Security age by condoning it: “But Simpson-Bowles — and I know you heard from Erskine earlier today — put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues, and we have to incentivize growth. It’s a three-part formula.”
Clinton even told a housing trade group back in 2013 that, regarding certain issues, she has “a public and a private position.” And that, “If everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”
The speculation of the paid speeches led media outlets to approach Clinton on releasing the transcripts, but she laughed off the question. The concern was addressed again during the Democratic primary debates, as well as other media events, and the New York Times editorial board even called for Clinton to release her speech transcripts, arguing that voters “have every right to know what Mrs. Clinton told these groups.”
Reports claim the campaign reviewed the speech transcripts but chose not to release them due to concern that Clinton would seem too cozy with banks and other donor interest groups.
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