Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to a top Wall Street firm tainted by fraud have been released by WikiLeaks. They cast her ties to the financial industry in an awkward light as presidential campaign hits final stretch.
Clinton generally avoided criticism of Wall Street as she examined the causes and responses to the financial meltdown during a series of paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, according to transcripts released Saturday by the controversial anti-secrecy activist website WikiLeaks.
The campaign has not contested the transcript's authenticity. But it blamed the Russian government for the hacks, a view shared by the US government, and accused Wikileaks of aiding the candidacy of Republican rival Donald Trump.
Her record of delivering paid speeches to one of the key Wall Street financial firms implicated in the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing housing foreclosure fiasco was a campaign staple for her Democratic primary rival Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who argued that she could not be relied upon to regulate firms by which she has been paid.
She repeatedly refused to release the transcripts. But following Saturday's disclosures her tone has been examined in detail.
In an October 2013 address to Goldman Sachs, she suggested something had to be done to rein in Wall Street abuses as a matter of political expediency. "There was also a need to do something because for political reasons, if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing," Clinton said according to the transcript.
Wikileaks released three talks given to Goldman Sachs in 2013. Paid speeches given between Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State and before her bid for the White House collectively earned her at least $26.1 million (23.8 million euros) in speaking fees. She has refused to release transcripts of the speeches.
Trump attempts to gain traction from leaks
Trump has attempted to seize an advantage from the leaks, arguing that Clinton, in private speeches to major banks in 2013 and 2014, expressed views in favor of free trade and Wall Street self-regulation that are at odds with her public positions as a political candidate.
Yet the trio of transcripts and emails from her campaign chairman did not contain any apparent bombshells showing she was unduly influenced by contributions from the banking industry.
Clinton told bankers she had "great relations" and worked closely with Wall Street as New York's senator, and said "the jury is still out" on whether the Dodd-Frank financial reforms put in place after the financial crisis had been the right approach. She said more openness from the start could have prevented the uproar on Wall Street over those reforms. "What happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out, and let's make sure that we do it right this time," she reportedly said.
On Syria, just a few months after leaving the State Department, Clinton told a Goldman Sachs conference that she would have liked to see the US intervene in Syria "as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene."
jar/kl (AP, AFP)