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Clinton on why she took $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs

Clinton’s efforts to explain why the investors have invested so heavily in her have not passed the laugh test.

Hillary Clinton
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

During Wednesday night’s “New Hampshire Town Hall” broadcast, Hillary Clinton was asked again about the millions of dollars she received from Wall Street firms for speaking fees after she left her job as secretary of state and before she announced her presidential candidacy.

I should say that, overall, I thought Clinton had a good night on the broadcast, fielding questions from CNN’s Anderson Cooper and New Hampshirites in the audience. She came across as personable, down-to-earth, feisty, passionate about her vision of a better, fairer America, and about what she can do to bring it about. Sanders, as you know, has a big lead in New Hampshire polls, and he has the advantage of coming from next-door Vermont. And he also did fine in his interview, although he said nothing I haven’t heard him say before. Still, during the Clinton portion, she seemed so on her game that I wondered whether she would get a bump in the next round of polling.

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But the Wall Street money is a problem for those who see campaigns the way Paul Wellstone used to frame them, as about “the people vs. the powerful,” or the way Sanders frames them, as whether the country will be run in the interests of the “millionaires and billionaires” or for everyone else. Clinton’s efforts to explain why the investors have invested so heavily in her have not passed the laugh test.

And the latest exchange wasn’t much better. Clinton filled her remarks last night with plenty of tough talk for Wall Street. When Cooper asked her specifically about the three talks she gave to Goldman Sachs, she said, as she usually does, that “I made speeches to lots of groups. I told them what I thought. I answered questions.”

Cooper followed up, thus:

COOPER: But did you have to be paid $675,000?

CLINTON: Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered… But you know anybody who knows me who thinks that they can influence me, name anything they’ve influenced me on. Just name one thing. I’m out here every day saying I’m going to shut them down, I’m going after them. I’m going to jail them if they should be jailed. I’m going to break them up. I mean they’re not giving me very much money now. I can tell you that much.

There is a small problem with that last bit. The statement that “they’re not giving me very much money now” was made just as a Washington Post piece, by my buddy Tom Hamburger and two other reporters, was rolling off presses, stating:

Even as Hillary Clinton has stepped up her rhetorical assault on Wall Street, her campaign and allied super PACs have continued to rake in millions from the financial sector, a sign of her deep and lasting relationships with banking and investment titans.

Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than one of every 10 dollars of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by The Washington Post.