Hillary Clinton has a simple explanation for why she accepted $675,000 from Goldman Sachs to give three speeches after she was secretary of state.
“That’s what they offered,” Clinton said during CNN’s town hall event in Derry, N.H., on Wednesday. “You know, every secretary of state that I know has done that.”
The Democratic frontrunner was asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if taking such a large payment from a Wall Street bank in 2013 was an “error in judgment” considering she knew she’d be running for president in 2016.
“Well, I didn’t know,” Clinton insisted. “To be honest, I wasn’t — I wasn’t committed to running. I didn’t know whether I would or not.”
“You didn’t think you were going to run for president again?” Cooper asked.
“I didn’t,” she replied. “You know, when I was secretary of state, several times I said, ‘You know, I think I’m done.’ And you know, so many people came to me, started talking to me. The circumstances, the concerns I had about the Republicans taking back the White House, because I think they wrecked what we achieved in the 1990s with 23 million new jobs and incomes going up for everybody. I did not want to see that happen again. I want to defend President Obama’s accomplishments and the progress we’ve made. I want to go further.”
Clinton dismissed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ assertion that her campaign “is funded by Wall Street” — as evidenced by the $15 million in big-money interests raised by her Priorities USA super-PAC in the second half of 2015.
“Anybody who knows me who thinks that they can influence me, name anything they’ve influenced me on,” Clinton said. “Just name one thing. I’m out here every day saying I’m going to shut them down, I’m going after them. I’m going to jail them if they should be jailed. I’m going to break them up.”
She added: “I mean, they’re not giving me very much money now. I can tell you that much.”
“So just to be clear, that’s not something you regret — those three speeches, that money?” Cooper asked.
“No, I don’t,” Clinton said. “Because, you know, I don’t feel that I paid any price for it, and I am very clear about what I will do, and they’re on notice.”
Earlier Wednesday, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein said Sanders’ attacks on the billionaire class have “the potential to be a dangerous moment.”
“Not just for Wall Street, not just for the people who are particularly targeted, but for anybody who is a little bit out of line,” Blankfein said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “It’s a liability to say, ‘I’m going to compromise; I’m going to get one millimeter off the extreme position I have.’ And if you do, you have to backtrack and swear to people that you’ll never compromise. It’s just incredible. It’s a moment in history.”
But Blankfein, who endorsed Clinton for president in 2008, refused to say who he is supporting this time around.
“I don’t want to help or hurt anybody by giving them an endorsement,” he said.