Chris Wallace Grills Lanny Davis on Clinton Cash: Except "For A Few Inadvertent Errors," The Clintons Have Been Transparent


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: A look outside the beltway at the Brooklyn New York site of Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters. Well, the Clinton camp has been quick to dismiss Peter Schweizer's new book as a partisan smear, but they declined our invitation for an interview today. However, former White House special counsel Lanny Davis has agreed to talk. While not a campaign spokesman, he has a long history handling Clinton troubles, advising then-President Clinton on campaign finance and impeachment. Lanny, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: Well, let's start with one of the big points that Peter Schweizer makes in his book. How do you explain Bill Clinton's speaking fees went up after his wife became secretary of state and the fact that of the 13 speeches he's made since he left the White House for which he was paid $500,000 or more, 11 of those 13 were while she was secretary of state. How do you explain that?

DAVIS: Well, I can't explain why people decide to pay President Bush and other former presidents lots of money. That's their decision. I can tell you that knowing Bill Clinton all these years, that he's worth listening to and because of his activities all over the globe and certainly in the foundation, he's probably worth that amount of money.

WALLACE: But I guess the question is, you would think the market would be that he would be most valuable and most interesting right after he left the White House. In fact, his speaking fee goes up dramatically. And 11 of the 13 biggest speeches were when she was secretary of state. Do you see a link there?

DAVIS: I don't, because it's more logical that right after he got out of the White House, before the foundation's activities and before he did so much good around the world, he's going to be less valuable. But I know that former presidents receive fees of this dimension. So, I'm not shock. But I can't read the motives of people who pay, but I can tell you that Bill Clinton has nothing to do and religiously had a wall between himself and Secretary Clinton when she was secretary of state.

WALLACE: All right. Here's the question -- back in 2009 when Hillary Clinton was going through her confirmation hearing, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar raised precisely this concern. Take a look.


SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, R-IN, FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE CHAIR: The Clinton Foundation exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it can curry favor through a donation. It also sets up potential perception problems with any action taken by the secretary of state in relation to foreign givers or their countries.


WALLACE: So, there's the chairman. A pretty nonpartisan chairman, Richard Lugar, I think you'd agree --

DAVIS: Absolutely.

WALLACE: -- he's giving an explanation of the concern that Clinton's money or money that goes to the foundation may be a way for foreign governments, foreign entities to curry favor with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. And yet, Bill Clinton continues after that to take millions of dollars from foreign -- for foreign entities for speeches and tens of millions of dollars for the foundation in donations, despite those concerns.

DAVIS: I agree that Senator Lugar asked a valid question and the Clintons responded as if it were a valid question and reached an agreement on making everything transparent. And, in fact, the Clinton Foundation donors are all named -- there are no anonymous donors, unlike other nonprofits. And moreover, I don't think but for a few inadvertent errors they ever violated the agreement on transparency and on taking money from foreign government.

WALLACE: We know because of the reporting in Peter Schweizer's book of one major violation of this, a failure to disclose, and that is that Ian Telfer, who was chairman of Uranium One, that uranium company that the Russians wanted to buy, gave $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation through his family's Fernwood Foundation, and yet that contribution, $2.35 million -- I mean, I know the Clintons have a lot of money, but that's not pocket change. That contribution was never reported.

DAVIS: Look, we've known each other for a long time. You used the word "major". You're entitled to that adjective.

WALLACE: You don't think $2.35 million is major? DAVIS: Let me finish, you're going to give me 30 seconds. $2.3 million out of $2 billion is not major, even by any definition. And moreover, there is, let's say not on this program to resolve, a fundamental dispute whether Mr. Telfer's $2.3 million was given to Clinton Foundation or another foundation based in Canada that was a fund for social --

WALLACE: In every other case, passed the money straight through to the foundation and what was reported.

DAVIS: As I said, we do not think that was a contribution to the foundation. But if it was, $2.3 million divided by $2 billion, the amount of money the foundation collected over all the years -- to me, $2.3 million divided by $2 billion is not what Chris Wallace call major.

WALLACE: That's what I call major. May not be what Lanny Davis calls major.

DAVIS: I agree. We have a right to disagree on the word "major".

WALLACE: How do you explain a startup, a startup called VCS Mining getting the first permit for open pit mining in Haiti in half a century? And do you think that the fact that Hillary Clinton's younger brother, Tony Rodham, was on the board of VCS Mining, played any role?

DAVIS: I don't think so. I see nothing that suggests that he was the cause of getting that license or influenced it. But the only fact I know of, because this is a new topic for me, so forgive me, is that he arrived on that board nine months after the license was granted. If I'm right about that, then I think you would probably withdraw your innuendo that he was somehow influential as Hillary's brother in getting that license.

WALLACE: Well, I had not heard that. And I -- we'll --


DAVIS: I'm not sure that's the case but nine months after that license was issued, Tony Rodham was on the board.

WALLACE: How do explain Canadian mining executives giving Clintons millions and a Russian company with close ties to Vladimir Putin giving -- paying Bill Clinton half a million dollars for a speech in Moscow -- his first speech in Moscow in five years, just as the Russian company was trying to get this -- this uranium company and that it had to go through U.S. government approval?

DAVIS: I'll try to do this in less than 30 seconds.


DAVIS: The standard answer has been there's no evidence of any relationship between those donations to the foundation by Mr. Giustra and the deal that was approved by the CFIUS review panel. But let me give you a stronger statement. There are facts that contradict the influence. Fact one, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved this deal. The Department of Treasury, Defense and Energy were on that panel. They approved the deal. The Utah Regulatory Commission approved the deal. And Canadian review panel approved the deal. All facts omitted by Mr. Schweizer this morning, which he should have mentioned.

WALLACE: Do you think it's -- well, we certainly both talked about the fact that CFIUS had nine agencies on it, so that wasn't omitted.


WALLACE: Do you think it was a coincidence all these Canadian mining executives are giving millions to the foundation, that a company with close ties to Vladimir Putin's government in Russia is giving half a million dollar speech? Do you think that's a coincidence that's happening while the Russian company that wants to buy Uranium One has business before the State Department? Do you think that's a coincidence?

DAVIS: I don't use the word "coincidence". Of course, it's a coincidence but it's a false inference. It sounds like if two incidents occur side by side, like the rooster crows and then the sun rises, it's a coincidence that the sun rises after the rooster crows. The rooster doesn't cause the sun to rise. In this case, the man on CFIUS states has been publicly quoted, not by Mr. Schweizer, not by The New York Times, that nobody from the State Department, Hillary Clinton never one intervened on that decision or any other decision. That's a fact omitted by Mr. Schweizer.

WALLACE: Well, though, in fact, it's something that Mr. Schweizer and I just discussed in --

DAVIS: Well, the man's name is Mr. Fernandez. What I didn't hear him say, and I take it back if he did say, is that he affirmatively said Hillary Clinton never once intervened on any matter in front of CFIUS. And the only word Mr. Schweizer used was hawkish, I don't know what he means by that. But it didn't involve the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approving this deal not because of Clinton Foundation.

WALLACE: A couple final questions we're running out of time. Is it possible some of the 30,000 e-mails that Hillary Clinton deleted as personal might have been about large donations or speeches?

DAVIS: Look. Anything is possible. You give me a good chance to maybe close on Jeb Bush. If --

WALLACE: No. This is where you and I get in trouble. I'm asking you a question. Is it possible some of the 30,000 e-mails that she deleted summarily had something to do with some of these issues?

DAVIS: I think you misread my statement about Mr. Jeb Bush. It's not what I was going to say as we discussed last time. If Mr. Schweizer is doing a book about Jeb Bush, as I heard him say, all the research he was doing, based upon this innuendo and smoke without facts, Jeb Bush is a decent, honorable man who would never do anything in government because of money. And if he uses that innuendo against Jeb Bush, invite me back and I'll make the same argument that I'm making against the unfair smoke blown about the Clintons that is totally missing the good works the Clinton Foundation has done throughout the years.

WALLACE: Of course, we'll never know whether or not the 30,000 e-mails might have included this because Hillary Clinton deleted all of her e-mails and wiped her server clean. I want to take you back to the last time you were, which is about six weeks ago, early March.

DAVIS: I remember.

WALLACE: Yes. And I asked you whether you thought at that time it would be reasonable for a neutral observer to take a look at her server and all the e-mails. Here's what you say.


DAVIS: I think that is a reasonable idea if the State Department asks, she will say yes. If there's a subpoena, she must say yes. This is a bogus notion about what might be the case versus what is the case.

WALLACE: How about --


DAVIS: Thank you.

WALLACE: But now we'll never know because to use the Nixon analogy, Hillary Clinton burned the tapes.

DAVIS: But thank you very much for airing that because a lot of people wrote that I called for a neutral party. And you heard my words. If a subpoena is issued.

WALLACE: No, you said it was a reasonable idea.

DAVIS: It's a reasonable idea if a subpoena is issued or the Congress asked for it or the State Department asked for it. And at that time I did not know about what I think is an entirely legitimate decision whether made by ...

WALLACE: No, no, here's what you said. I think it's a reasonable idea if the State Department asks ...

DAVIS: If ...

WALLACE: No. If the State Departments asks, she will say yes. If there's a subpoena, she must say yes.

DAVIS: And I, again, was trying to finish the thought, Chris. I said if. I did not know that she made the reasonable decision, which I would make, which (INAUDIBLE) you would make that privacy -- everybody watching knows private e-mails are private and they shouldn't be made public. She made the decision, as everybody in government under law is supposed to, including members of Congress, to separate private from official.

WALLACE: But she also decided to erase the server.

DAVIS: And God bless -- I would like to erase every one of my e-mails and members of Congress do erase -- I'm sure they do, their private e-mails. In this case, Hillary Clinton made a legal decision to separate and then to delete the private e-mails to protect her privacy. And the one thing that she has the right to is the right to privacy.

WALLACE: Of course, she was the one who mixed this all up.

DAVIS: Everybody ...

WALLACE: Wait. But she is the one who mixed this all up by putting her government business on her private e-mail server in -- in contradiction to what the rules of the State Department and of the Obama administration were.

DAVIS: False. That's a false statement. Colin Powell did the same thing.

WALLACE: Really? The Obama administration didn't say that you're supposed to put your government e-mails on -- you are supposed to keep all of government business and government emails? They didn't say that?

DAVIS: The Obama administration rules on that subject we're not violated. And the expert from the agency, the archives administration, the top lawyer said, on a rival network --

WALLACE: No, that was -- that wasn't a question of law -- that wasn't a question ...

DAVIS: He said ..

WALLACE: In any case ...

DAVIS: He said no rule and no law was violated.

WALLACE: You know, it was so civil until the end here.


WALLACE: But thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

WALLACE: And it's certainly more civil than last time. Thanks for coming in, Lanny. Always a pleasure.

DAVIS: Thank you.

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