FACT-CHECK: Trump’s Statement About the Clintons Profiting from ‘China Cash’

Donald Trump is making his most direct, and comprehensive, attack on Hillary Clinton’s fitness for the Presidency.

Drawing heavily from Breitbart News Editor Peter Schweizer’s bestseller, “Clinton Cash“, Trump focused particular attention on the cozy financial relationship between the Clintons, their eponymous foundation and China.

Here is a quote from the book, “At the center of U.S. policy toward China was Hillary Clinton. At this critical time for U.S.- China relations, Bill Clinton gave a number of speeches that were underwritten by the Chinese government and its supporters. These funds were paid to the Clintons’ bank account directly, while Hillary was negotiating with China on behalf of the United States.”

Tell me, folks, does that work? She sold out our workers and our country for Beijing. Hillary Clinton has also been the biggest promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will ship millions more of our jobs overseas and give up congressional power to an international foreign commission.

In its reporting of Trump’s remarks, Politico passed over the accusation against the Clintons and prominently noted talking points from the Clinton campaign:

The Clinton campaign has trashed the book as “false, right-wing attacks” funded by the Koch brothers, and it continued to push back on Trump’s attacks Wednesday afternoon.

A reporter from Fortune, Chris Matthews, penned at least two articles on Wednesday, trying to debunk allegations Trump made against Clinton. He devoted an entire article to the relationship between the Clintons and China.

Trump doesn’t exactly back up these allegations, though he does quote from a book, Clinton Cash, published last year by conservative writer and Brietbart News Editor Peter Schweizer. The book details instances when Bill Clinton was paid to give speeches by foreign business groups while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, like a speech to a business conference called the Huatuo CEO Forum in 2011 for $550,000.

Trump didn’t say, however, what exactly he thinks Hillary Clinton did as Secretary of State that helped the Chinese economy or caused the trade deficit between the United States and China rise. He does mention President Clinton’s support for the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as his support for China’s entrance into the WTO, but both of those events occurred before Hillary Clinton held public office and before Bill Clinton began accepting money to give speeches.

Mr. Matthews may be the most incurious person in journalism.

Bill Clinton being paid more than half a million dollars for a single speech by a Chinese business group while Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State seems somewhat noteworthy, by itself. Matthews, however, seems to be only interested if the paid speech cold be directly tied to a specific action taken by Secretary Clinton.

Matthews fails to note in his “fact-check” that, in addition to the $550,000 paid by a Chinese “foreign business group,” Bill Clinton also received, in the same year, $200,000 for a speech paid for by an entity of the Chinese government. This Clinton speech, delivered on October 21, 2011, took place just 10 days after Secy. Clinton publicly announced an “Asian Pivot” in American foreign policy.

The Clintonian relationship with China, however, goes far beyond a couple of paid speeches. The relationship is so extensive, in fact, that even an incurious scribe like Matthews might raise an eyebrow.

According to Clinton Foundation Form 990s, reviewed by Breitbart News, Bill and Hillary’s foundation has had bank accounts and/or foundation offices in China since at least 2005. Between 2001-2006, Bill Clinton was paid $700,000 for four speeches by Chinese brokerage firm CLSA Asian Markets.

The Clinton Foundation increased its activities in China in late 2007, just as Hillary Clinton was making her first run for the White House. In the Fall of 2007, the Clinton Foundation announced that it would convene a Clinton Global Initiative conference in Hong Kong in December 2008. When the conference was announced, Hillary Clinton was already a Democrat candidate for President.

CLSA Asian Markets was a “strategic partner” for the 2008 Clinton conference. After the conference in December 2008, CLSA became a “sponsor” of the Clinton Global Initiative. A number of other Chinese companies and interests also committed money to the Clinton Foundation at the conference in 2008.

Simply listing those commitments, and the companies behind them, could give Matthews fodder for another article, if he were at all curious.

Interestingly, after the conference in December 2008 and millions of dollars in commitments for projects through the Clinton Global Initiative, the Foundation appears to have done little work in China in subsequent years. It still, however, listed a bank account and/or a foundation office in China while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State.

This changed, however, in 2014. That year, the Clinton Foundation listed on its 990 the “Clinton Foundation Hong Kong” as a “disregarded entity.” That means it’s a separate legal entity that is tied to the overall Clinton Foundation, but “disregarded” by the IRS for federal tax purposes.

The public won’t be able to determine the exact nature or mission of this new “Chinese” Clinton Foundation until later this year, when the Foundation’s 990s for 2015 are available.

It does seem curious, though, the Clinton Foundation’s activities in China coincides with Hillary Clinton’s Presidential runs. While the Clinton Foundation has maintained bank accounts or offices in China for more than a decade, it seems it has only undertaken significant public actions in China twice.

In 2007-2008, the Clinton Foundation organized, planned and executed a Clinton Global Initative conference in Honk Kong, while Clinton was running in the Democrat primary for President. Then, just months before Hillary Clinton announced her latest bid for the White House, the Clinton Foundation established a separate “Chinese branch” in Hong Kong.

In the movies, journalists are interested in stories like that.

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