Former US president Bill Clinton is defending donations to his foundation from foreign governments as Hillary Clinton considers a 2016 presidential campaign.
In an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative University, Bill Clinton said he believes they have done “a lot more good than harm”.
The former president said his approach has been to disclose everything related to the foundation’s donors and let people make their own judgments.
He noted that one of the contributors was the United Arab Emirates, which he pointed out was helping the US fight the Islamic State terror group.
Hillary Clinton is also speaking at the event at the University of Miami, but she has steered clear of both criticism of her use of a private email account at the State Department and the foundation’s fundraising practices.
Hillary Clinton remains the leading Democratic presidential contender if she enters the 2016 campaign.
Her appearance at the University of Miami brought her before an audience of college students in one of the nation’s top presidential battleground states and is only a short drive from the home of potential Republican rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Bill Clinton spoke shortly after Hillary Clinton appeared on stage along with the couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, but steered clear of addressing criticism involving her use of a private email account while she served as secretary of state under Barack Obama.
Hillary Clinton also did not address the recent scrutiny of the foundation’s fundraising practices, instead giving college students a preview of an upcoming report on the progress of women and girls by her foundation’s “No Ceilings” project.
On the donations flap, Bill Clinton said some of the foundation’s money has come from Middle Eastern nations, pointing to donations from the United Arab Emirates. “Do we agree with everything they do? No. But they’re helping us fight Isis,” he said.
Similarly, Bill Clinton said he did not agree with the entire foreign policy of Saudi Arabia, another donor, but he pointed to its construction of the kingdom’s first coeducational institution.
In recent days, Hillary Clinton has faced criticism over her use of the private email account while she was secretary of state. The disclosures have raised questions over whether Ms Clinton complied with federal rules requiring government officials to retain written communications involving official business.
Ms Clinton has requested her emails to be released and the State Department is reviewing the 55,000 pages of emails she has already turned over. Congressional Republicans are investigating.
Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short said Hillary Clinton had spent the past week “hiding from the press and voters” and that it was “clear that Hillary Clinton feels the rules that every other American lives by don’t apply to her, and today’s failure to answer these questions did nothing to allay any of these concerns”.
Mr Obama commented publicly on the email controversy for the first time Saturday, telling CBS News that he first heard about the private account through news reports and that he was glad that Hillary Clinton had “instructed that those emails about official business need to be disclosed”.
Asked how the dust-up squared with his administration’s push for transparency, Mr Obama said Ms Clinton’s decision to put them forward “will allow us to make sure that people have the information they need”.
Republicans have assailed the Clinton Foundation’s receipt of donations from foreign governments, saying it could create a conflict of interest for the former first lady if she is elected president.