(CNSNews.com) - "Hillary Clinton ran the State Department like a failed leader in a third-world country," Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday. "She sold favors and access in exchange for cash."
In a telephone interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night, Democrat Hillary Clinton was asked to respond.
"Well, first, What Trump has said is ridiculous. My work as secretary of state was not influenced by any outside forces," Clinton said. "I made policy decisions based on what I thought was right, to keep Americans safe and to protect U.S. interests abroad.
"No wild political attack by Donald Trump is going to change that. And, in fact, the State Department has said itself that there is no evidence of any kind of impropriety at all."
Clinton noted that the Clinton Foundation does "life-saving work" and is "well-respected" in the U.S. and around the world.
"And in 2009, they (the Clinton Foundation) took steps that went above and beyond all legal requirements, and indeed, all standard requirements followed by every other charitable organization -- voluntarily disclosing donors, significantly reducing sources of funding, even to the point of, you know, of (that) funding being involved in providing medication to treat HIV/AIDS."
Clinton became secretary of state in 2009 after signing an ethics agreement that said she would "seek to ensure that the activities of the Foundation, however beneficial, do not create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts."
But an Associated Press report published on Tuesday found that more than half of the non-government officials who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money, in some cases, substantial sums of money, to the Clinton Foundation.
Bill Clinton last week announced that to avoid conflicts of interest, the Foundation will stop accepting foreign and corporate donations and he will step down from the board if Hillary is elected president.
Hillary Clinton told Anderson Cooper that those changes will allow the Clinton Foundation "to continue as much of its important work as possible, but to do it in a way that provides great disclosure, and although none of this is legally required, these steps go further than the policies that were in place when I was secretary state."
"Why was it OK for the Clinton Foundation to accept foreign donations when you were Secretary of State, but it wouldn't be okay when you were president?" Cooper asked Clinton.
"Well, what we did when I was secretary of state, as I said, went above anything that was required, anything that any charitable organization has to do," Clinton said.
"Now, obviously, if I am president, there will be some unique circumstances, and that's why the foundation has laid out additional unprecedented steps we will take if I am elected."
"Didn't those unique circumstances exist when you were secretary of state?" Cooper asked.
"No, no, you know, look, Anderson. I know there's a lot of smoke and there's no fire. This AP report -- put it in context. It excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders, plus countless other meetings with U.S. government officials when I was secretary of state."
According to the Associated Press, at least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs.
"The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009," the AP said. "But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton."
The AP said the 154 people did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives "because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties."
Clinton told Cooper the Associated Press report examined "a small portion" of her tenure as secretary of state: "And it drew the conclusion and made the suggestion that my meetings with people like the late, great Elie Wiesel or Melinda Gates or the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus (a Bangladeshi economist) were somehow due to connections with the Foundation instead of their status as highly respected global leaders. That is absurd," Clinton said.
"These are people I was proud to meet with, who any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights."
Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State
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