- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2016

Donald Trump campaign officials continued to press attacks on the Clinton Foundation as an example of Hillary Clinton’s corruption even as top aides to the Democratic nominee brought up Mr. Trump’s ties to foreign players by demanding he prove he is not “just a puppet” for Russian interests.

The Trump team noted the steps the Clinton campaign took last week about conflicts of interest involving the Clinton Foundation but pointed to reports that say other Clinton-affiliated charities will still accept foreign dollars.

New Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway also said the moves pose a key question: If the Clinton Foundation sees foreign contributions as bad now, then why did it let those dollars flow during her tenure at the State Department?

“She’s sorry about pay-to-play at the State Department. She’s sorry about the Clinton Foundation taking all these foreign donations,” Mrs. Conway told ABC’s “This Week.” “She’s implicitly admitting are not a good idea since they reported this week that they would, quote, ‘stop taking’ these foreign donations if she’s elected.”

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook used his appearances on the Sunday morning talk circuit to call on Mr. Trump to release his tax returns and financial ledgers, saying his favorable comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin suggest his ties to the superpower run deeper than Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman who resigned Friday amid scrutiny of his lobbying work for Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president who fled to Russia in 2014.

“There’s a web of financial interests that have not been disclosed, and there are real questions being raised about whether Donald Trump himself is just a puppet for the Kremlin in this race,” Mr. Mook said on “This Week.”

Mr. Manafort stepped aside two days after Mr. Trump tapped Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon as CEO of the campaign and promoted Mrs. Conway to campaign manager.

Some Republicans fear the shake-up is overshadowing a string of negative headlines for the Clinton campaign on the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors.

The Trump campaign piled on later Sunday, highlighting reports that say the foundation should shut down completely, and stories about a counselor to the foundation who asked Mrs. Clinton’s advisers at the State Department for a favor. The aides said they were looking into options to fulfill his request instead of rejecting him.

Mr. Mook said Mrs. Clinton’s State Department took unprecedented steps to ensure that its interests didn’t become entangled with the foundation‘s.

“The State Department at every step was following all the appropriate protocols. This was someone who had a relationship with the Clintons long before Hillary became secretary of state,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.

The foundation last week said it plans to dial back its foreign and corporate donations if Mrs. Clinton is elected president, and that former President Bill Clinton will not give paid speeches from now through the election and will not if Mrs. Clinton wins the White House. Instead, it would accept money only from U.S. citizens and independent charities.

“They’re not going to accept any donations from foreign entities; they’re going to change the way that the Clintons themselves interact with the foundation,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat and Clinton supporter, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In a series of television interviews, Mr. Mook tried to turn the Clinton Foundation issue against Mr. Trump, highlighting its philanthropic goals and Mr. Trump’s own record.

“I think we need to evaluate both candidates here,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “But what is important to know is, Secretary Clinton doesn’t draw a salary from the foundation. It does charitable work. Donald Trump’s businesses, which affect his bottom line and his net worth, have real ties to countries like Russia and China.”

Moving forward, Mr. Mook said, the campaign will ensure there is a firewall between the candidate and the foundation, which is continuing to operate despite a number of critics who say it should disband.

“Millions of people around the world depend on lifesaving health treatments that the foundation provides, so just pulling the plug on that literally would threaten lives around the globe,” Mr. Mook said. “So, the foundation is in the process figuring out how to refocus, reshift.”

He said the foundation hasn’t become a liability for the campaign, though Mr. Trump’s allies say the issue, plus Mrs. Clinton’s use of private email at the State Department, has dented her credibility, with some polls showing a majority of voters do not find her trustworthy.

“This is an insider-versus-outsider campaign,” former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican and Trump supporter, told Fox News Sunday. “She is the consummate corrupt Washington insider, and she is thoroughly corrupt, and so is the Clinton Foundation.”

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