Hillary Clinton’s interview with Diane Sawyer is getting a lot of attention because Hillary explained the $100 million plus she and Bill have made giving speeches as necessitated by their near poverty upon leaving office:

SAWYER: You’ve made five million making speeches? The president’s made more than a hundred million dollars?

CLINTON: Well, you have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy. Bill has worked really hard and it’s been amazing to me. He’s worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts. You know, you had to make double the money because of, obviously, taxes, and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members.

The problem is not that the Clintons made a fortune. This is America, after all. People are entitled to make a fortune so long as they do so lawfully, and we’ve not yet reached the point where the law dictates when people have made enough.

The problem is that Hillary is not being straight with the public.

It is true, as The Fix at WaPo documents, that the Clintons left office with a lot of debt, much of it related to legal fees, which was paid down by 2004.

It’s equally true that the Clintons made financial deals before leaving office and soon thereafter that rendered the debt more than manageable, and generated tons of income.

In mid-December 2000, a month before Bill left office, Hillary signed a book deal with a near record $8 million advance:

Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed last night to sell Simon & Schuster a memoir of her years as first lady, for the near-record advance of about $8 million.

The deal ends a frantic weeklong bidding war that provoked widespread curiosity about just what she planned to write. Mrs. Clinton had told publishers she planned to discuss her feelings about the scandals of her husband’s administration as well as her thoughts about women’s changing roles in the world….

Some publishers initially said that Mrs. Clinton sought almost all of her advance upfront, pushing to sign a contract by the end of the year. But people close to Mrs. Clinton said that she never requested the whole advance right away. Other publishers said only upfront payments up to half the total were discussed.

In 2001, Bill made $9.1 million in speaking fees, Hillary received $2,8 million of her book advance, and they had at least several million in the bank and investments, Mrs. Clinton Reports That Her Husband Made $9.2 Million From Speeches Last Year:

Former President Bill Clinton received $9.2 million in his first year out of office for giving 59 speeches to investment banks, Jewish and Israeli groups, public relations companies, advertising agencies and other organizations, according to a financial disclosure form filed today by his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

In addition, Mrs. Clinton earned $2.8 million last year as part of an $8 million advance for her memoirs….

The Clintons were required to disclose only Mr. Clinton’s income from honorariums, according to his spokeswoman, and thus other income, from sources like his book deal, is not disclosed. Mr. Clinton’s book contract includes an advance of more than $10 million….

By far the biggest asset reported in Mrs. Clinton’s filing today was accounts at Citibank that contained $5 million to $25 million and generated $100,000 to $1 million in interest income. The family’s second-largest asset was a blind trust that contained $1 million to $5 million but lost an undisclosed amount last year.

In August 2001, Bill signed a $10 million record book deal, Clinton Signs Record Book Deal:

Former President Clinton has agreed to write his memoirs for Alfred A. Knopf, the publisher announced Monday, in perhaps the biggest deal ever for a nonfiction work.

Terms were not immediately disclosed, but the New York Times reported on its Web site that the 42nd president agreed to an advance of more than $10 million. The book is expected to be out in 2003.

That figure could be just the tip of the iceberg. The Washington Post reports the former president has received dozens of inquiries from international publishers who hope to buy foreign rights to the book.

On top of all this was the tawdry spectacle of the Clintons receiving questionable gifts in preparation for their departure from the White House:

Less than a week after leaving the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton are facing criticism for accepting gifts worth $190,000 for their New York State home.

There have been allegations of favouritism, as one of the donors is the former wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who was pardoned by Mr Clinton on his last day in office.

And the even more tawdry spectacle of the Clintons having purloined White House furnishings, as this February 6, 2001 NY Times report recounts:

Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton received authorization to take certain household furnishings to their new homes as gifts but will return any items that are found to be White House property, a spokesman said today.

In the latest criticism over their departure from the White House, the Clintons faced questions today about taking $28,000 worth of furnishings, which two donors were quoted as saying had been intended to become part of the permanent White House collection, not gifts to the Clintons.

The disclosure, reported in today’s Washington Post, came three days after the Clintons said they would pay $86,000 to cover the value of gifts they received last year in an effort to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The couple had originally sought to leave with $190,000 in gifts.

Officials said that at least $28,000 worth of furnishings, donated in 1993 as part of the White House restoration project, had been registered by the National Park Service as gifts to the permanent collection of the White House and not the Clintons.

The removal of White House furnishings started a year before Bill left office, The L.A. Times reported on February 10, 2001:

President Clinton and his wife started shipping White House furniture to the Clintons’ newly purchased home in New York more than a year ago, despite questions at the time by the White House chief usher about whether they were entitled to remove the items.

The day before the items were shipped out, chief usher Gary Walters said he questioned whether the Clintons should be taking the furnishings because he believed they were government property donated as part of a White House redecoration project in 1993, during Clinton’s first year in office.

And I haven’t even mentioned the pension and other support payments ex-Presidents receive.

For Hillary Clinton to present herself and Bill as “dead broke” in 2001 just is not true. In fact, it’s false.

That’s the problem with Hillary’s interview with Diane Sawyer.

It was not a hard choice to tell the truth. But it’s a choice Hillary chose not to make.


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