- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should explain whether he is “just a puppet” for Russian interests in the presidential race, a top aide to Hillary Clinton said Sunday, even as her critics say foreign contributions to the philanthropic Clinton Foundation are becoming a liability for Democratic nominee.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook noted Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned Friday amid questions about his lobbying for former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was elected in 2010 and frequently deferred to Moscow.

But that doesn’t mean Russia’s ties to the mogul don’t run deeper, Mr. Mook charged on ABC’s “This Week.”

“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?” he said.

The Trump campaign said the Clinton campaign is the one that needs to account for any ties to foreign governments and corporations. If the Clinton Foundation plans to dial back foreign contributions if Mrs. Clinton becomes president, it said, then why did those dollars continue to flow during her tenure at the State Department?

“The steps that were taken when Secretary Clinton went to the State Department were unprecedented,” Mr. Mook said Sunday. “It’s important to keep in mind this is a nonprofit, philanthropic organization.”

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

“Millions of people around the world depend on life saving 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, re-shift.”

He said the foundation hasn’t become a liability for the campaign.

“What the foundation is saying is at the they don’t want to become a distraction, that they want to go as far as they possibly can to make sure there’s no possible conflict of interests,” he said. “But again … I just want to be fair here, Donald Trump is refusing to disclose deep financial ties that potentially reach into the Kremlin, which could influence his foreign policy decisions, but also where countries like China have leverage over him and could potentially distort his decision-making there. None of this is being disclosed.”

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