Donald Trump cited apparent excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s past closed-door speeches, contained in emails leaked by WikiLeaks, but he twisted those excerpts in some cases.
At a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Oct. 10, Trump read from a piece of paper — interrupting himself to provide some commentary — detailing several apparent quotes from Clinton that were part of paid speeches she gave to financial firms and other organizations after she left the State Department and before declaring her candidacy for president. He made additional claims about the speech excerpts in Ambridge, Pa., the same day.
We do not have the full speeches that Clinton gave, nor has the Clinton campaign confirmed the authenticity of the emails. Campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin told us, “We cannot confirm the authenticity of anything released by wikileaks.” But we can provide the full excerpts as contained in the leaked emails, which are the basis for Trump’s claims.
- Trump claimed that Clinton “admitted that ISIS could infiltrate with the refugees,” adding, “then why’s she letting so many people into our country?” But Clinton was talking about Jordan vetting the refugees coming into that country, not the refugees coming into the U.S.
- Trump said Clinton wants a “single-payer” health care system, like Canada’s. But the quotes show Clinton advocating building on the United States’ employer-based system to get to “universal” coverage.
- Trump said that longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal wrote that the 2012 attack in Benghazi “was almost certainly preventable” and that Clinton’s State Department “failed to protect” U.S. personnel in Libya. But a senior writer for Newsweek wrote that, not Blumenthal.
- Trump claimed the excerpts show Clinton supports an “open border” with “no controls over trade or immigration.” But the fuller context shows Clinton was talking about free trade, not immigration, and Clinton supports controls on both.
- He falsely claimed that the speeches show Clinton “wants to knock the hell out of your Social Security” and Medicare. The excerpt shows Clinton supported the “framework” of a deficit-reduction plan because it involved both spending cuts and revenue increases, including to those programs. “I’m not going to sort of piecemeal all their recommendations,” one quote says.
- Trump claims Clinton said that terrorism is “quote, not a threat to the nation.” The excepts indicate Clinton said terrorism is “not a threat to us as a nation,” meaning that it “is not going to endanger our economy or our society.” She added that terrorism is “a real threat” and “a danger to our citizens.”
- Trump quoted the email as saying, “Needs Wall Street money to successfully run her campaign.” Clinton did not say that. She told Goldman Sachs executives that it “takes a lot of money” to campaign, and she urged them to consider the candidates’ economic policies before donating.
- Trump falsely claimed that Wall Street is “where she gets all the money.” In fact, about 2.5% of her campaign funds comes from Wall Street donors. Clinton’s campaign and outside groups supporting her combined received nearly 12% of their total funds from Wall Street.
Clinton earned $21.6 million for the speeches between 2013 and 2015. The excerpts were contained in emails to Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, that were hacked and released Oct. 7 by WikiLeaks.
Nearly all of the quotes cited by Trump come from a Jan. 25, 2016, email from a Clinton staffer, research director Tony Carrk, to Podesta and others involved in the campaign. The email and the attachment say they contained flagged quotes from “HWA,” which is Harry Walker Agency, Clinton’s speaker bureau.
Trump, Oct. 10: "During one of these secret speeches … Hillary admitted that ISIS could infiltrate with the refugees. Great. Then why’s she letting so many people into our country?"
That’s a distortion of what the quote shows Clinton saying. She worried about Jordan being able to vet all the refugees coming into that country — she wasn’t talking about ISIS infiltrating refugees that were coming into the United States.
Here’s the full excerpt, attributed in the attachment to the email to a speech on Oct. 28, 2013, to the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago Vanguard Luncheon: “So I think you’re right to have gone to the places that you visited because there’s a discussion going on now across the region to try to see where there might be common ground to deal with the threat posed by extremism and particularly with Syria which has everyone quite worried, Jordan because it’s on their border and they have hundreds of thousands of refugees and they can’t possibly vet all those refugees so they don’t know if, you know, jihadists are coming in along with legitimate refugees. Turkey for the same reason.”
Clinton has said that the U.S. should admit 65,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30. The Obama administration pledged to admit 10,000 and, in fact, admitted 12,587, according to the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. However, Clinton said the U.S. should increase the number “only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine.”
In Jordan, there are more than 650,000 registered Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And a Jordanian census put the number of Syrians living in Jordan at nearly 1.3 million.
Trump, Oct. 10: "She wants … universal health care coverage, single-payer system. She wants it to be like Canada. But the people in Canada with money when they have an operation, they come down to this country. Because they have got a lot of problems up in Canada."
A header, presumably written by the staffer who sent the email, says: “CLINTON IS MORE FAVORABLE TO CANADIAN HEALTH CARE AND SINGLE PAYER.” But that’s how critics may cast the quotes; the excerpts themselves don’t show Clinton advocating that the U.S. now adopt a single-payer health care system, in which everyone has government-provided coverage. Instead, she says, she hopes to build on the Affordable Care Act to “get to affordable universal healthcare coverage like you have here in Canada.” Having universal coverage through a single-payer system and having it by building on the United States’ primarily employer-based system are different things. The speech was given Jan. 21, 2015, in Saskatoon, Canada.
In another excerpt, Clinton says that “it would be very difficult to get a consensus politically that would dramatically change” the United States’ employer-based health care model. That excerpt is dated June 17, 2013, from a speech to the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.
Here’s the full quote from the Canada speech, with the relevant passages in bold:
Jan. 21, 2015, excerpt, Saskatoon, Canada: "You know, on healthcare we are the prisoner of our past. The way we got to develop any kind of medical insurance program was during World War II when companies facing shortages of workers began to offer healthcare benefits as an inducement for employment. So from the early 1940s healthcare was seen as a privilege connected to employment. And after the war when soldiers came back and went back into the market there was a lot of competition, because the economy was so heated up.
"So that model continued. And then of course our large labor unions bargained for healthcare with the employers that their members worked for. So from the early 1940s until the early 1960s we did not have any Medicare, or our program for the poor called Medicaid until President Johnson was able to get both passed in 1965. So the employer model continued as the primary means by which working people got health insurance. People over 65 were eligible for Medicare. Medicaid, which was a partnership, a funding partnership between the federal government and state governments, provided some, but by no means all poor people with access to healthcare.
"So what we’ve been struggling with certainly Harry Truman, then Johnson was successful on Medicare and Medicaid, but didn’t touch the employer based system, then actually Richard Nixon made a proposal that didn’t go anywhere, but was quite far reaching. Then with my husband’s administration we worked very hard to come up with a system, but we were very much constricted by the political realities that if you had your insurance from your employer you were reluctant to try anything else. And so we were trying to build a universal system around the employer-based system. And indeed now with President Obama’s legislative success in getting the Affordable Care Act passed that is what we’ve done.
"We still have primarily an employer-based system, but we now have people able to get subsidized insurance. So we have health insurance companies playing a major role in the provision of healthcare, both to the employed whose employers provide health insurance, and to those who are working but on their own are not able to afford it and their employers either don’t provide it, or don’t provide it at an affordable price. We are still struggling. We’ve made a lot of progress. Ten million Americans now have insurance who didn’t have it before the Affordable Care Act, and that is a great step forward. (Applause.)
"And what we’re going to have to continue to do is monitor what the costs are and watch closely to see whether employers drop more people from insurance so that they go into what we call the health exchange system. So we’re really just at the beginning. But we do have Medicare for people over 65. And you couldn’t, I don’t think, take it away if you tried, because people are very satisfied with it, but we also have a lot of political and financial resistance to expanding that system to more people. So we’re in a learning period as we move forward with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And I’m hoping that whatever the shortfalls or the glitches have been, which in a big piece of legislation you’re going to have, those will be remedied and we can really take a hard look at what’s succeeding, fix what isn’t, and keep moving forward to get to affordable universal healthcare coverage like you have here in Canada."
It’s worth noting that in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump called for creating a form of single-payer, saying: “The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. … We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing. But implementing such a plan is not simple. One major problem is that the single-payer plan in Canada is in financial difficulty, as is the nationalized plan in the United Kingdom. We have to improve on the prototype.”
Trump’s campaign plan, however, is to repeal the ACA and use “free market principles.”
As for wait times for surgeries in Canada, that has been a concern in the country, and press reports have said some Canadians come to the U.S. and pay for operations here, as Trump said. Clinton, too, mentioned this problem in her Grand Rapids speech, saying: “If you look at the single-payer systems, like Scandinavia, Canada, and elsewhere, they can get costs down because, you know, although their care, according to statistics, overall is as good or better on primary care, in particular, they do impose things like waiting times, you know. It takes longer to get like a hip replacement than it might take here.”
Not Sidney Blumenthal's Words
Trump also said, citing another email obtained by WikiLeaks, that Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime adviser and friend to the Clintons, “admitt[ed] that” the State Department, under Hillary Clinton, “could have done something about Benghazi.” But Trump’s wrong. Blumenthal didn’t write the passage Trump cited; a Newsweek reporter did.
Trump, Oct. 10: "Do you remember what Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi was calling, and writing, and even — they were desperate for help. They say like 600 times, right? The only one she was speaking to is Sidney Blumenthal who’s a sleaze — he’s a sleaze. …
"So, Blumenthal writes a quote — this just came out a little while ago, I have to tell you this. 'One important point has been universally acknowledged by the nine previous reports about Benghazi.' This is Sidney Blumenthal, the only one she was talking to. She wasn’t talking to Ambassador Stevens, even the 600 calls, probably desperation.
" 'The attack was almost certainly preventable,' Benghazi. 'Clinton was in charge of the State Department and it failed to protect the United States personnel and an American consulate in Libya.' He meant Benghazi.
" 'If the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate.' In other words, he is now admitting that they could have done something about Benghazi. This just came out a little while ago.
What Trump was reading was not written by Blumenthal. Those are the words of Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald.
This is part of what Eichenwald wrote in an October 2015 opinion piece about congressional investigations of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi:
Newsweek, Oct. 21, 2015: "One important point has been universally acknowledged by the nine previous reports about Benghazi: The attack was almost certainly preventable. Clinton was in charge of the State Department, and it failed to protect U.S. personnel at an American consulate in Libya. If the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate."
Not long after Trump’s rally, Eichenwald corrected the record in a post for Newsweek titled “Dear Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, I Am Not Sidney Blumenthal.”
“Those words sounded really, really familiar,” Eichenwald wrote. “Really familiar. Like, so familiar they struck me as something I wrote. Because they were something I wrote.”
The uncovered email from Blumenthal shows that he sent Podesta and other “undisclosed recipients” a link to Eichenwald’s opinion article, the same day that it was published, and first highlighted a section that Eichenwald had written about Blumenthal, who was questioned for hours by the House Select Committee on Benghazi about his email communications with Hillary Clinton.
Later in the email, Blumenthal included the full text of what Eichenwald wrote in Newsweek last year, which included the section that was critical of Clinton.
It’s not clear why Blumenthal forwarded the article to Podesta and others, but it doesn’t show him “admitting” that something could have been done to prevent the attack in Benghazi. Those who mistook Eichenwald’s words for Blumenthal’s either misread the email, which included Eichenwald’s byline, or they deliberately misrepresented it.
Trump claimed the excerpts show Clinton supports an “open border” with “no controls over trade or immigration.” But the fuller context proves no such thing.
Rather, the excerpt suggests she was talking about free trade between countries of the Western Hemisphere. It was not a comment on immigration policy. Nor did it preclude regulation of trade policy between those nations.
The Clinton campaign said her comment was even more narrowly focused than that, and that she was talking only about “integrating green energy between North and South America.”
During his speech in Ambridge, Pa., on Oct. 10, Trump explicitly tied the “open borders” comment to immigration, saying that Clinton “wants the United States to surrender to global governance with no controls over trade or immigration.”
Trump, Oct. 10: "Most shockingly, these speeches show Hillary Clinton saying, quote, my dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade. You know what that does to your community? That’s the end. And open borders! In other words, she wants the United States to surrender to global governance with no controls over trade or immigration. Great. Can you imagine? Seriously. Can you imagine? She’s saying she’s for NAFTA, which she was. You know, her husband signed NAFTA. But she’s also for Trans-Pacific Partnership."
Later in the same speech, Trump claimed Clinton was for “radical unlimited immigration.”
For months, Trump has claimed that Clinton is for “open borders,” and we have repeatedly written that that is false. We have noted that Clinton proposed and supported, and voted for as a senator, border enforcement and security. Her campaign website says she supports “humane, targeted immigration enforcement,” and that she would “focus enforcement resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.”
The Trump campaign sent out an email to supporters with the heading, “Leaked Emails Show Trump Right, Fact Checkers Wrong: Clinton Wants ‘Open Borders.'”
The email includes a quote from The Washington Post‘s Dan Balz on CNN on Oct. 9 saying, “I did a search on Friday afternoon after we heard about this on ‘Clinton open borders’ and almost everything that popped up were fact checks that said ‘Donald Trump has accused her of wanting open borders, she’s never said that.’ Now we have the evidence that she has said that.”
But let’s look at the fuller context of what Clinton said in a 2013 address to the Brazilian Banco Itau (and again, we note that we are not seeing the full text of the speech and cannot independently verify what she said).
Clinton, May 16, 2013: "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere."
As that quote shows, Clinton’s comment about open borders was related to trade, not immigration. In the past, Clinton has used similar language — “open borders” — to talk about free and open trade between nations. As secretary of state she referred several times to “open borders” when discussing the need to enhance and encourage trade between countries. For example, Clinton said at the 2012 Summit of Our Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society: “You have the border between Morocco and Algeria closed. You have continuing difficulties with other countries in terms of trade agreements, open borders — the kind of free flow of commerce that does create jobs.”
President George H.W. Bush even spoke of open borders in the context of trade, saying in a 1990 address to the United Nations: “I see a world of open borders, open trade and, most importantly, open minds. …”
On CBS’s Face the Nation on Oct. 9, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Clinton’s comments were even more focused than that, and that she was specifically talking about “integrating green energy between North and South America.”
Mook on Face the Nation,” Oct. 9: "She said that she wants a market where green energy can flow. She was talking about integrating green energy between North and South America. …
"But if the question is, does Hillary Clinton support throwing open our borders, absolutely not. And she is going to do everything she can to fight to protect the interests of workers in this country."
The Clinton campaign has not released the full text of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, despite our request. So we don’t know the full context of Clinton’s comments.
But based on the abbreviated excerpt contained in the WikiLeaks documents, it is clear that she was not talking about open borders for immigration. Nor is there any evidence that Clinton would “surrender to global governance with no controls over trade or immigration,” as Trump put it. Trump’s comments about Clinton’s support for trade agreements — which by definition place controls on trade — contradict his own claim.
Medicare and Social Security
In Ambridge, Trump also made a false claim about Clinton’s plans for Medicare and Social Security.
Trump, Oct. 10: "The speeches also show that crooked Hillary supports cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits, one more example of how Hillary Clinton’s public position is a lie. She wants to knock the hell out of your Social Security, she wants to knock the hell out of your Medicare/Medicaid. And I’m going to save them."
The excerpts do not show that Clinton wants to “knock the hell” out of those programs. Trump engages in the kind of political scare-mongering toward seniors and retirees that’s common in campaigns. But it’s false.
Clinton actually says nothing specific about the two programs, but, in excerpts contained in the attachment to the email, she voices support for a deficit-reduction plan put forth by Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff to Bill Clinton, the co-chairs of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which was created by President Obama. According to the WikiLeaks documents, Clinton said in a speech at Morgan Stanley on April 18, 2013, that “Simpson-Bowles,” as the commission’s work was often called, “put forth the right framework” of looking at both spending and revenues to balance the budget. “The specifics can be negotiated and argued over,” Clinton is quoted as saying. “But you got to do all three. You have to restrain spending, you have to have adequate revenues, and you have to have growth.”
Simpson-Bowles released the commission’s plan in December 2010 and later put forth another fiscal plan in April 2013. Both included recommended changes to Social Security — which won’t be able to pay full benefits by 2034, as estimated by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees. Those changes included raising the retirement age, with a “hardship” exemption; creating a progressive benefit formula based on income; and raising the percentage of earnings subject to the payroll tax. The 2013 plan recommended that a bipartisan commission be formed to come up with a package of Social Security changes, saying the original 2010 plan “could serve as a starting point for reform.”
Simpson-Bowles offered recommendations to strengthen Medicare’s financing, too, including raising the eligibility age and income-related premiums, and enacting changes and reductions to payments for care. Medicare Part A, which covers hospital stays, hospice and some home health costs, is expected to be able to cover only 87% of costs in 2028.
But Clinton didn’t talk about any of these specific proposals.
Here’s an excerpt from a speech to Morgan Stanley on April 18, 2013: “Well, this may be borne more out of hope than experience in the last few years. But Simpson-Bowles — and I know you heard from Erskine earlier today — put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues, and we have to incentivize growth. It’s a three-part formula. The specifics can be negotiated depending upon whether we’re acting in good faith or not. And what Senator Simpson and Erskine did was to bring Republicans and Democrats alike to the table, and you had the full range of ideological views from I think Tom Coburn to Dick Durbin. And they reached an agreement. But what is very hard to do is to then take that agreement if you don’t believe that you’re going to be able to move the other side. And where we are now is in this gridlocked dysfunction. So you’ve got Democrats saying that, you know, you have to have more revenues; that’s the sine qua non of any kind of agreement. You have Republicans saying no, no, no on revenues; you have to cut much more deeply into spending. Well, looks what’s happened. We are slowly returning to growth. It’s not as much or as fast as many of us would like to see, but, you know, we’re certainly better off than our European friends, and we’re beginning to, I believe, kind of come out of the long aftermath of the ’08 crisis.”
In another speech in April 2013 to the National Multifamily Housing Council, Clinton is quoted as saying she won’t discuss the details of the proposals but approves of both cutting spending and growing revenues. “I’m not going to sort of piecemeal all their recommendations, but their overall approach is right, because here’s what they basically say. They say we need to constrain spending, we need to have adequate revenues, and we’ve got to incentivize growth. I mean, that’s pretty much the framework for Simpson-Bowles.”
Another excerpt of that speech shows Clinton talking about both sides compromising on budget issues: “So, I really think that we have to get back into the business of democracy and listening to each other, working with each other, and quit drawing lines and taking positions that are against compromise of any kind, because, I don’t know, maybe I’ve just lived long enough. I think usually, you know, you try to come to the table and figure out how to make it as close to a win-win as you can, and I think that’s what we’ve got to do, and the whole world is watching us.”
As for the candidates’ positions on Social Security and Medicare, there has been very little discussion of that during this campaign. Clinton’s website says she’ll fight attempts at “privatization,” oppose raising the retirement age or reducing cost-of-living adjustments, and expand income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. On Medicare, she proposes some steps aimed at lowering prescription drug costs and backs allowing those over age 55 to buy into Medicare. Trump has said he wouldn’t make any changes to either program. In response to an AARP request for information on his stance, Trump said, “The key to preserving Social Security and other programs that benefit AARP members is to have an economy that is robust and growing.”
Trump, Oct. 10: "A speech made behind closed doors, crooked Hillary Clinton said that terrorism was not a threat, quote, not a threat to the nation. No, let me tell you, folks, [it’s a] big, big threat … Let me tell you, terrorism’s a big threat."
Trump, who made this remark in Wilkes-Barre, purported to be directly quoting Clinton, but he left out a key word, and some crucial context. Here’s what she is alleged to have said in a speech to the Global Business Travelers Association on Aug. 7, 2013, according to a Word document attached to Carrk’s email:
Clinton, Aug. 7, 2013: "But make no mistake, as the recent travel alert underscores, we still face terrorism. It’s not a threat to us as a nation. It is not going to endanger our economy or our society, but it is a real threat. It is a danger to our citizens here at home, and as we tragically saw in Boston, and to those living, working, and traveling abroad."
So for starters, Clinton did not say that terrorism was “not a threat to the nation.” She said it was “not a threat to us as a nation.” (Emphasis is ours.) In other words, she is arguing that terrorism is not a threat to the nation’s existence — as she immediately explained when she said, “It is not going to endanger our economy or our society.”
Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army officer who advises Trump, seized on Clinton’s comment, releasing a statement arguing that it is further evidence that Clinton “does not regard terrorism as a serious threat to the United States.”
But in the fuller text of Clinton’s alleged comments, Clinton immediately states that terrorism “is a real threat” and that it is a threat to U.S. citizens. “It is a danger to our citizens here at home, and as we tragically saw in Boston ….” she said, referring to the Boston Marathon bombing several months prior.
Some may disagree with Clinton’s assessment that terrorism is not a threat to the United States’ existence as a nation, but her alleged comments are well short of Trump’s claim that she does not view terrorism as a threat to the safety of Americans.
Wall Street Money
Trump, Oct. 10: "Clinton bragged about her great relationship with the financial industry. That’s where she gets all the money. … Says here, quote, 'Needs Wall Street money to successfully run her campaign.' "
In recent speeches, Trump has turned to a line of attack that Sen. Bernie Sanders used extensively against Clinton during the Democratic primary: Clinton’s Wall Street donors.
In Wisconsin on Sept. 28, Trump said, “Hillary Clinton has received $100 million in contributions from Wall Street and hedge funds.” This month in Wilkes-Barre, Trump brought up Wall Street donors again, citing the Jan. 25 memo on Clinton’s paid speeches that was obtained by WikiLeaks.
Trump is wrong when he says Wall Street is “where she gets all the money,” and he exaggerates when he says “Clinton has received $100 million in contributions from Wall Street and hedge funds,” as we will explain later.
But let’s first look at what Clinton actually said in her paid speeches about “Wall Street money,” according to the memo that Trump cites.
In a 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs executives, Clinton said that “running for office in our country takes a lot of money,” and that New York City is “probably the leading site for contributions for fundraising for candidates on both sides of the aisle.” She urged them to consider the impact of candidates’ policy positions on the economy before making donations.
Clinton, Oct. 24, 2013: "Secondly, running for office in our country takes a lot of money, and candidates have to go out and raise it. New York is probably the leading site for contributions for fundraising for candidates on both sides of the aisle, and it’s also our economic center. And there are a lot of people here who should ask some tough questions before handing over campaign contributions to people who were really playing chicken with our whole economy."
Clinton said something similar about the need to raise lots of money to run a presidential campaign in a January 2014 speech she gave at General Electric’s Global Leadership Meeting, which GE described as a meeting to discuss best practices among its top 600 executives. Her remarks were not to Wall Street donors or about Wall Street money.
Clinton, Jan. 6, 2014: "So our system is, in many ways, more difficult, certainly far more expensive and much longer than a parliamentary system, and I really admire the people who subject themselves to it. Even when I, you know, think they should not be elected president, I still think, well, you know, good for you I guess, you’re out there promoting democracy and those crazy ideas of yours. So I think that it’s something — I would like — you know, obviously as somebody who has been through it, I would like it not to last as long because I think it’s very distracting from what we should be doing every day in our public business. I would like it not to be so expensive. I have no idea how you do that. I mean, in my campaign — I lose track, but I think I raised $250 million or some such enormous amount, and in the last campaign President Obama raised 1.1 billion, and that was before the Super PACs and all of this other money just rushing in, and it’s so ridiculous that we have this kind of free for all with all of this financial interest at stake, but, you know, the Supreme Court said that’s basically what we’re in for. So we’re kind of in the wild west, and, you know, it would be very difficult to run for president without raising a huge amount of money and without having other people supporting you because your opponent will have their supporters. So I think as hard as it was when I ran, I think it’s even harder now."
Both of those excerpts — which we provide in full — do not show Clinton saying that she needs Wall Street money to run a successful campaign. It shows her saying she needs a lot of money to run a successful campaign, presumably with the hope that some in her audience at Goldman Sachs and General Electric will support her.
So why did Trump, who was reading from a piece of paper, say that the memo, “Says here, quote, ‘Needs Wall Street money to successfully run her campaign’?
The memo was written by a Clinton campaign researcher who flagged potential problematic statements from Clinton’s paid speeches by subject area. Both of the excerpts above were under the heading, “CLINTON ADMITS NEEDING WALL STREET FUNDING.”
That header characterized how Clinton’s critics may use the speeches against her, and that is exactly how Trump used it. But that’s not what she actually said. She admitted to needing a lot of money to run a campaign.
How much money has Clinton raised from Wall Street donors? Is it true that that’s “where she gets all the money,” as Trump said? No.
For Wall Street donations, we turn to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations on its website opensecrets.org. The center defines “Wall Street” donations as contributions from those in the securities and investment industry, which includes hedge funds, and the commercial banking industry.
In the 2016 campaign, Clinton so far has received $7,498,185 from the securities and investment industry and $1,945,460 from those in the commercial banking industry for a total of a little more than $9.4 million, according to the center.
The $9.4 million represents just 2.5% of the $373.3 million the Clinton campaign has raised so far, according to the center. That’s far less than what Trump claimed when he said, “Hillary Clinton has received $100 million in contributions from Wall Street and hedge funds.”
Trump gets closer — but still falls short — if we include money that outside groups supporting Clinton have received in donations from Wall Street donors.
According to the center, the Clinton campaign and outside groups that support her received a total of $58,849,957 from the securities and investment industry. Add to that the $1,945,460 that the Clinton campaign received from those in the commercial banking industry, and the total in contributions from Wall Street and hedge funds comes to almost $61 million for both the Clinton campaign and outside groups supporting her.
The $61 million represents nearly 12% of the $516.8 million that Clinton and outside groups supporting her have received from Wall Street donors.
The Trump campaign and outside groups supporting him received just $585,397 from the securities and investment industry, and his campaign received only $122,379 from commercial banks. So he has a point that Wall Street has given her much more support. But Trump exaggerated the amount the Clinton campaign received and was wrong to say that Wall Street is where “she gets all the money.”