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Trump demands closure of 'corrupt' Clinton Foundation
[WASHINGTON] Donald Trump on Monday demanded that Hillary Clinton shut down the charitable foundation founded by her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, branding it a "corrupt enterprise."
"The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people," the Republican presidential candidate said in a statement.
"It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history," Trump said, blasting the charity, which has raised some US$2 billion dollars since it was founded in 2001 after Bill Clinton left office.
"It must be shut down immediately," he said.
Speaking a short time later on Fox News, Mr Trump said the foundation had received financial contributions from various countries "that discriminated against women and gays and everybody else."
That remark apparently referred to various nations seen as having checkered histories on human rights, Saudi Arabia among them, that made generous donations to the foundation when Mrs Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, served as President Barack Obama's secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.
"I mean, that money - it should be given back. They should not take that money," Trump told Fox.
The Clinton Foundation disburses funds domestically and overseas, handing out some US$218 million in 2014.
A firewall was supposed to have been in place to ensure that the foundation's work remained completely separate from Hillary Clinton's role as head of US diplomacy, but critics said that that barrier has been permeable at best.
Meanwhile, nearly 15,000 emails Hillary Clinton sent from her private email server while serving as secretary of state were released, and raised fresh concerns about potential conflicts of interest between the foundation and her service as the top US diplomat.
Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has targeted Clinton for years, released the emails, including some purporting to show that various donors to the Clinton Foundation had lobbied one of her top aides, Huma Abedin, for access to the former first lady.
The emails were made public by a judge after the group filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The newly released email exchanges appeared to show that a rich donor, Casey Wasserman, asked Bill Clinton aide Doug Band to contact Mr Abedin for help in setting up a meeting with diplomatic officials in London, raising fresh questions about special favours for top Clinton Foundation donors.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had handed over about 14,900 new emails to the department, both personal and government-related, that would be made public.
"There was nothing that we have seen that implied any kind of untoward relationship" giving a donor to the Foundation privileged access to the then-secretary of state, he said.
Concerns were recently revived after emails surfaced showing that Band had contacted two senior State Department aides of Hillary Clinton, seeking their assistance in helping a donor - Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury - to secure a meeting with a US diplomat in Lebanon.
Bill Clinton sought to tamp down the controversy, announcing last week that - if his wife is elected president in November - the Clinton Foundation would no longer accept foreign or corporate donations, and he would step down from the board.
The former president said additional measures would also be taken under a Hillary Clinton presidency to make sure some programs are continued independently.
"Much of the foundation's international work, like that of most global NGOs, is funded in part by donor governments' bilateral aid programs. If Hillary is elected, we will transition those programs out of the foundation to other organisations committed to continuing their work," the former president said in a statement on Monday.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign manager, told CNN on Sunday that the additional safeguards were "unprecedented... in terms of disclosure and limits."
"Over 10 million people around the world get important AIDS medication, lifesaving AIDS and HIV medication because of the foundation," Mr Mook said, adding that "the foundation has reduced the cost of malaria drugs by 90 per cent."