Clintons’ connections with bankers were known for a long time – since the days of Bill Clinton’s presidential race in the early 1990’s. The relationship began at the end of the 1970’s when Bill took the seat of the Governor of Arkansas.
Clintons and Goldman Sachs: the beginning of a long romance
The beginning of a serious romance of Clintons with Wall street dates back to 1985, when Goldman Sachs spotted the young governor of Arkansas. In 1991 in New York, Bill Clinton met the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin. Then the banker made the final decision to bet on Clinton in campaign for president. The decision was backed by strong financial inflows, both official and those at odds with US law. Influential Rubin supported Bill not only with Goldman Sachs money, he also arranged financial support from other Wall Street banks – Lehman Brothers and Citibank.
|Robert Rubin, Harvard University, 1960|
Since 2007 Robert Rubin has been the co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. He’s considered the intellectual father of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. He’s a regular participant at the annual Bilderberg Meetings and a member of the Harvard Corporation.
Rubinomics—his signature economic philosophy, in which the government balances the budget with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, driving borrowing rates down—was the blueprint for an economy that scraped the sky. When it collapsed, due in part to bank-friendly policies that Rubin advocated, he made more than $100 million while others lost everything. “You have to view people in a fair light,” says Phil Angelides, co-chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, who credits Rubin for much of the Clinton-era prosperity. “But on the other side of the ledger are key acts, such as the deregulation of derivatives, or stopping the Commodities Futures Trading Commission from regulating derivatives, that in the end weakened our financial system and exposed us to the risk of financial disaster.”
“Nobody on this planet represents more vividly the scam of the banking industry,” says Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan.
As president, Bill quickly paid back the debt to his benefactor, fulfilling all of the wishes that Rubin had expressed during the memorable meeting in 1991. Bill thanked Rubin even more by appointing him Secretary of the Treasury and calling him “the greatest Treasury Secretary since Alexander Hamilton”. Rubin managed to earn astronomical money for himself, Goldman Sachs and Citibank where Rubin relocated after the post of Treasury Secretary.
When Bill was already president, the Damocles sword of disclosure was constantly hanging over him stemming from the unscrupulous financial transactions and the “special relationship” of the Clintons with the bankers. Bill’s opponents tried to spin the story of his involvement in illegal real estate transactions in Arkansas in the 80’s, in which he was aided by Hillary. Ultimately, his political opponents chose to use his affair with Monica Lewinsky. For the spouse of the president, America’s reaction to the affair with Monica was much less dangerous than exposing Bill’s connections with the bankers.
After Bill’s departure from the White House in 2011 the Clintons continued to engage in favorite pastime – making money using questionable methods. By the time Hillary joined the race for president of the United States she has accumulated an extensive list of transgressions. And not only those that occurred during her tenure as Secretary of State, but also prior. The first one in this long list – the “special relationship” with Wall Street banks, which, as you know, get little love in America.
Donald Trump systematically strikes at this vulnerable point of the candidate from the democratic party. Past summer, Trump said that Hillary Clinton is a “world-class liar”, meaning that she avoids direct questions about her multi-million dollar income and the main sponsors of her campaign.
The Republican candidate also said that Clinton is perhaps the most corrupt of the candidates for U.S. President in history. Since the lady prefers to remain silent, Trump answers the uncomfortable questions for her.
On the eve of the start of the campaign, she earned $21.6 million for her speeches before Wall street bankers (she calls these earnings ‘fees’). The list of banks that wished to hear the ‘lectures’: Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and UBS. And that’s not counting fees of $4.1 million which Clinton received, speaking to banks in 2013, when, after leaving the post of Secretary of State, she shared her foreign policy experience. ‘Educational activities’ is the hobby of the Clinton couple.
Trump reminded that this couple earned $153 million dollars for speeches in 2001. Their listeners and ‘fans’ were the heads of large corporations and banks, as well as the heads of leading lobbying firms. However, then the head of the family tandem was Bill who recently left the White house.
Clintons’ non-profit work
The cornerstone of the family business is the Clinton Foundation which is structured as a non-profit. The inflows and outflows of the Foundation look very murky, but if you look at expenses – they always look more transparent in a non-profit – it turns out that in 2013 the main activities (charitable purposes) accounted for only 10% of the fund’s expenses, the rest – are the so-called administrative expenses. Here, as they say, no more comments are needed.
If we look at the contributions to the Clinton Foundation, there are a whole lot of anonymous donors who transferred money through a Canadian affiliate Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP). Information on more than 1100 foreign donors not reported in the official statements was leaked to the media. The vice-president of Clinton Foundation, Maura Pally stated that the names of the donors were not disclosed, because the CGEP is governed by Canadian law, which forbids publishing information about the ‘benefactors’ without their consent. But the Clinton Foundation had to either disclose the anonymous donors or reject donations, as U.S. law requires disclosure of donor names. This is a gross violation of the laws of the United States.
Siphoning of the money by the Clinton Foundation did not stop even when Hillary took the post of Secretary of State. She, however, said that at that time the Foundation will not accept donations from governments (a direct conflict of interest). However, she did not refuse private donations. During the period that Hillary was the head of the U.S. Department of State (2009-2013), the Clinton Foundation has received, according to various estimates, from $34 to 68 million from a dozen of foreign nationals or their funds and companies. Plus, $60 million was directly transferred to finance projects supported by the foundation. Somehow Barack Obama, his advisers and members of his administration did not see any “conflicts of interest” in such practice.
Bestseller “Clinton Cash”
All of this and much more you can learn from the bestselling book by Peter Schweizer “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”.
The book-investigation “Clinton Cash” was released in 2015. The author has estimated that over the period 2001-2015 the family business (primarily the Clinton Foundation) brought the couple $230 million profit. The book took the top spot in the New York Times rating. A movie already followed. In addition, during the current election campaign the media regularly publish excerpts from Schweitzer’s investigation. There is no doubt that Donald Trump knows the contents of the book from cover to cover. He uses certain facts and figures from this source in his speeches, but we can probably expect the main blow closer to election day.
Wall Street banks appear in the book, but they are not at the center of attention. Besides, there are new facts that shed more light on Hillary’s relationship with bankers. In 2013, Hillary received $675 thousand for three speeches before the leadership of Goldman Sachs ($225 thousand for one-hour lecture). Clinton’s opponents demand the release of transcripts or video recordings of the speeches as documentary proof. There is no evidence so far.
Donald Trump announced that Hillary is a Wall Street protege in contrast to Trump, who pays for the campaign mostly out of his pocket. The pages of Wall Street Journal and other publications periodically publish estimates of financial support for the candidates. In March 2016, the share of Wall Street support for Hillary’s campaign was 53%. Donald Trump’s share in any month did not exceed 1%. The Republican candidate draws a conclusion: if Hillary becomes president, she will not touch the bankers: “Hillary will never reform Wall Street. She belongs to Wall Street!” — Trump wrote in his Twitter.
Banks and the Trump-Clinton contest
Trump, as you know, has publicly promised that if he comes to the White house, he will organize a full-fledged audit of the Federal Reserve. This has not happened since the founding of the Fed. There was, however, a partial audit, the purpose of which was to find out to whom, how much and on what conditions the Fed gave the money during the financial crisis of 2007-2009. In 2010 the partial audit revealed that the Fed gave out over 16 trillion dollars in nearly free loans. The main recipients were the main shareholders of the Federal reserve, among which in the first place are Wall street banks.
President Obama came to the White house on a wave of the general public disdain for the banks. While still a candidate, he promised to fix the banking system. In fact the banks created the financial crisis, later taking public money for their own bailout. We must give credit to Obama: as president, he achieved the adoption of “Dodd–Frank”. This law was intended to reform the US banking system, but the reform failed, the greed of the bankers won, the banks became unruly, and today America is on the verge of a new crisis.
Against the background of Trump’s statements the criticism of banks by Hillary Clinton looks very pathetic. The claims that bankruptcy of any big bank in America may be a trigger of a collapse of the entire banking system of the United States, Americans heard many times before. “Wall Street protege” understands that she needs a different strategy.
Wells Fargo, or the History of hypocrisy
And recently, as it seems, she found a way. The American banks began to cheat their customers en masse. Not VIP customers with millions and billions of dollars but ordinary Americans. This deception can be classified as petty theft. The story involves Wells Fargo bank, the largest in terms of capitalization on Wall Street. Los Angeles prosecutor and the Commission on regulation of activities of commercial banks revealed serious violations at the bank. It turned out that bank employees from May 2011 to July 2015 opened without the knowledge of customers more than 2 million accounts and credit cards. The maintenance of these accounts demanded payment of commissions, for which funds from other client accounts were used. Simply put, customers were quietly robbed.
The total amount of illegally withdrawn funds on the background of billions of dollars of bank profits looked ridiculously small – 2-3 million dollars. The employees of the bank did so under pressure from management, which sought to increase the number of customers. The fraud prettified reports and gave the basis for issuing staff bonuses. In general, a boring story. Nevertheless, the authorities decided to make noise about this, showing that they are fighting against the “tyranny” of hated banks. Recently the investigation was completed, the authorities demanded that Wells Fargo pay $185 million fine. And the bank, without waiting for the verdict, fired the employees – more than 5 thousand people. It turned out that this is happening in other banks: Bank of America, Citizens Bank, PNC, SunTrust and Fifth Third. Bank employees convince customers to open numerous accounts and to issue credit and debit cards.
Hillary decided to earn points on this story. She joined the critics of Wells Fargo and even appealed to the people with an open letter in which she denounced the unscrupulous bankers and promised to tighten control of Wall Street after becoming mistress of the White House. Meticulous journalists, however, accused Hillary of hypocrisy. The fact is that shortly before the Wells Fargo scandal the Clinton foundation received a donation from Wells Fargo Foundation. According to various estimates, from $100 to 250 thousand. In addition, in 2011, Wells Fargo paid Bill Clinton a ‘fee’ of $200 thousand for a single speech before the management of the bank.
The main shareholder of Wells Fargo, Warren Buffet (he owns 10% of the shares) is actively supporting Hillary in the current presidential race. So Hillary’s attacks against Wells Fargo are just a show. “This is a classic example of the behavior of Hillary Clinton – says the director of public relations of “America Rising” Jeff Bechdel, – To publicly criticize the company while receiving political dividends, whereas her foundation takes in hundreds of thousands of dollars from the same company. If Clinton was sincere in her letter, she should have attached a check for the amount received by the Clinton Foundation from the company about which Hillary is so hypocritically complaining”.