Instead of focusing on allegations from several women that Donald Trump sexually violated them, the media should devote attention to the "avalanche of real, hard evidence of corruption" during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said.
"The national media is ignoring an avalanche of real, hard evidence of corruption during the years of the Clinton administration," Pence said Oct. 16, 2016, in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. "The New York Times just a few minutes ago posted a story about — in exchange for five minutes with Bill Clinton, the government of Qatar was going to give $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
"We know that more than half of Hillary Clinton’s meetings while she was secretary of state were given to major contributors to the Clinton Foundation."
We looked at Pence’s claim about Qatar in another fact-check. Here, we’ll focus on his claim that "more than half" of meetings Clinton took as secretary of state were with major donors to her family’s global charity.
Pence’s claim comes from an Associated Press story published in August, headlined, "Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State."
But "many" does not mean "more than half" of all her meetings. Not even close.
Clinton served as secretary of state from 2009-13. The Associated Press analyzed 154 of her State Department meetings and found that 85 of those were with Clinton Foundation donors. Those 85 gave as much as $156 million to the foundation, combined.
But this is a tiny subset of Clinton’s meetings.
The analysis excluded meetings with people who work for the U.S. government or foreign governments. And it does not include many meetings Clinton took in the second half of her term because the Associated Press only had access to detailed schedules from the first half.
ABC reported back in 2013 that Clinton met with 1,700 foreign leaders and had 755 meetings at the White House while secretary of state. So that’s at least 2,455 meetings the Associated Press did not include in its analysis
The Associated Press mischaracterized its own reporting in a post on Twitter claiming that "More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation." The AP later deleted the tweet.
Pence described the donors as major. According to the AP, at least 40 of the 85 donors Clinton met with contributed more than $100,000 each. Twenty gave more than $1 million, the AP reported.
The Associated Press report showcases the ethical minefield that resulted from the lack of a bright line separating Clinton’s State Department from her family’s foundation. However, merely showing that Clinton met with some foundation donors does not in itself prove any substantial wrongdoing, such as undue influence over State Department policy.
For example, the Associated Press article mentions meetings with foundation donors Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist from Bangladesh, and Nancy McMahon, head of MAC AIDS, which was partnering with the State Department to address gender-based violence in South Africa.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told the Associated Press that the department does not prohibit meetings with "political campaigns, nonprofits or foundations — including the Clinton Foundation."
Pence said, "We know that more than half of Hillary Clinton's meetings while she was secretary of state were given to major contributors of the Clinton Foundation."
Pence inaccurately described an Associated Press report.
The report found that of 154 meetings Clinton took with private individuals over about half of her time as secretary of state, 85 were with people who had donated to the foundation. But the analysis leaves out thousands of meetings Clinton took, including every time she met with employees of both U.S. and foreign governments. It also only covers part of her time as secretary of state.
We rate Pence's claim Mostly False.
Associated Press, "Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State," Aug. 24
Washington Post, "Here’s how Trump got the AP story on Clinton Foundation donors all wrong," Aug. 25, 2016
ABC, "Hillary Clinton: The Most Traveled Secretary of State," Jan. 19, 2013
PolitiFact, "Clinton surrogate spins Clinton Foundation defense," Aug. 24, 2016
PolitiFact, "Did the Clinton Foundation go 'above and beyond' in transparency?" Aug. 31, 2016
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