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Entries in Bill Clinton (10)

Wednesday
Sep052012

Obama, Clinton Fundraiser Appointed to National Security Panel

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- For one of President Obama's top fundraisers, the appointment last year to an elite group of State Department security advisors appeared to be an odd fit.

Rajiv Fernando, a Chicago securities trader, has never touted any international security credentials, yet he was appointed alongside an august collection of nuclear scientists, former cabinet secretaries and members of Congress to advise Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on crucial security matters.

One current member of the International Security Advisory Board told ABC News that none of the other members could figure out who Fernando was or why he was there.

Fernando, president of Chopper Trading, has distinguished himself in one way, though. He is one of the most prolific bundlers of campaign contributions for President Obama's reelection, raising more than $500,000 this cycle. Prior to his State Department appointment, Fernando gave between $100,000 and $250,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and another $30,000 to a political advocacy group, WomenCount, that has indirectly helped Hillary Clinton retire her lingering campaign debts.

How Fernando found a place on the intelligence panel remains an unanswered question. Fernando declined repeated requests to be interviewed over the past several months. When he was approached by ABC News this week in his hotel lobby, he turned away from cameras, asked hotel security to arrest the reporters, and at one point grabbed an ABC News camera and apparently attempted to break it.

Days after ABC News contacted the State Department in 2011 to ask about his qualifications to serve on the panel, Fernando announced he had stepped down, saying he was too busy to participate. The State Department declined to provide his resume, or offer comment.

As Fernando exchanged hugs and greetings with other top donors in Charlotte this week, he embodied what some watchdog groups say has been a surprising aspect of President Obama's first term. Despite his pledges to change the way business is done in Washington, Obama has continued a tradition of appointing top donors to prestigious posts in government and seats on influential federal commissions.

"Overall the problem is the declaration by Obama that things would be so different," said Melanie Sloan, who runs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "When it doesn't look so different, that is a disappointment."

More than two dozen of the president's top fundraisers received ambassadorships during his first term, and dozens more have been placed in various key posts in his administration. Fernando's appointment stands out, however, because a seat on the International Security Advisory Board has not traditionally been viewed as a perk for major donors.

Among those who sat alongside Fernando on the panel were David A. Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group and UN Chief Weapons Inspector; Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a former National Security Advisor to two presidents; William Perry, a former Secretary of Defense; two former congressmen; and former Sen. Chuck Robb.

Stephen Krasner, a professor of international studies at Stanford University who served on the board under President Bush, said he did not think the panel was a place to park contributors.

"These are always people who would have serious foreign policy expertise," he said.

Fernando's expertise appears to be in the arena of high-frequency trading -- a form of computer-generated stock trading. His firm, Chopper Trading, is a leader in that field.

Another area of interest is politics. Fernando's history of campaign giving dates back at least to 2003 and it is prolific -- and almost exclusively to Democrats. He was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton's bid for president, giving maximum contributions to her campaign, and to HillPAC, in 2007 and 2008. He also served as a Clinton bundler, gathering more than $100,000 from others for her White House bid.

After Obama secured the Democratic nomination in 2008, Fernando began donating to him. He recently hosted a fundraiser at his Chicago home with Vice President Biden. But he has also continued to help Clinton. In 2009 he made a $25,000 contribution to WomenCount, a group organized by former Clinton supporters that states as its goals the advancement of women in politics. The group was also one of several that has helped Clinton retire her campaign debt by renting her email list.

The group has paid Clinton's campaign account $220,000 for "list rental income." Renting the mailing list served as a major source of income for Clinton, who finished her presidential bid with a sizeable debt, but was hampered from paying it back because, as Secretary of State, her abilities to fundraise were severely limited.

Stacy Mason, who runs WomenCount, said the group did not serve as a pass-through for people looking to support Clinton.

"Our mission had little or nothing to do with Hillary," Mason said. "The list was to build the movement. Our goal was to bring women together online to support legislation, to elect women to office."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May262012

Penthouse Owner: Leave Bill Clinton Alone

Frank Polich/Getty Images(MONTE CARLO) -- Marc Bell, the private-equity mogul who owns Penthouse, thinks the whole Bill-Clinton-posing-with-porn-stars business has gotten out of hand.

“It’s unfortunate that a harmless picture has gotten so much play,” Bell told ABC News in a phone interview from Monaco.

Bell was at the Monte Carlo gala, a fundraiser for the Prince Albert Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, where porn actresses Brooklyn Lee and Tasha Reign posed with Clinton in a photo first reported by TMZ. The two actresses attended as Bell’s guests.

Lee and Reign told TMZ they had wandered near Clinton in the hopes of meeting him. A Secret Service agent shooed them away, the actresses said, but Clinton told the agent to call them back over.

Bell seemed frustrated with the notion, which he insinuated that media reports have fed, that the photo signified anything untoward. He was not with Lee and Reign when the photo was taken, but he said they had met Clinton earlier in the evening.

“They were just guests at a party,” Bell said. “It wasn’t done for publicity, it wasn’t done for malice, it was done because they thought it was really cool to meet the president.”

While Lee and Reign expressed uncertainty and hope to TMZ that Clinton did, in fact, know who they were -- or at least that they were porn stars -- Bell said that wasn’t the case: “He didn’t even know who they were. When he met them, he had no idea who they were. They were there not under their stage names. They were there under their real names,” Bell said.

“The man had no clue,” Bell said. “We met him earlier. It was, ‘Hi, how are you, very nice to meet you, it’s a pleasure,’” Bell said.

“He made some comments about how Monaco [has] the world’s greatest life expectancy … so this is a good place for someone who’s older to be,” Bell said. "It had nothing to do with anything.”

Bell founded and runs Marc Bell Capital, the private-equity firm that owns Penthouse. Bell said the magazine and accompanying clubs, website, etc., accounts for a small part of his firm’s portfolio.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May252012

Bill Clinton Called Porn Stars Over After Agents Rebuffed Them

Frank Polich/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- After porn stars Brooklyn Lee and Tasha Reign were shooed away from Bill Clinton by a Secret Service agent, the former president called them back over for a photo, the actresses say.

Porn actresses Brooklyn Lee and Tasha Reign posed for a photo with Clinton at a gala fundraiser in Monaco this week, TMZ first reported.

Lee and Reign told TMZ on Thursday that they approached Clinton in the hopes of meeting him and having their photo taken with him. When Secret Service agents repelled their advances, Clinton then told the agents to call the actresses back, posing for a photo and engaging in brief small talk.

The actresses said they attended the gala, a fundraiser for Prince Albert of Monaco’s charitable foundation and the Clinton Foundation, as guests of Penthouse magazine owner and FriendFinder CEO Marc Bell.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr022012

President Clinton on Trayvon Martin Case

Kris Connor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Bill Clinton said the “tragedy” of the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

“There are different stories being told,” the former president said, “so the first thing I have to say is that it’s important to find out the facts.”

Clinton continued “but to me, beyond the incredible personal tragedy- this young man was not armed, he clearly presented no threat to anybody’s life — is, the most important thing I’ve read was from the former police chief in Florida in the community, he was one of many law enforcement officers testifying against that Stand Your Ground law. And he said, you know this is going to create all kinds of problems. And it’s going to be almost impossible to prove what was in someone’s mind when a certain thing happened.”

Clinton said “people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home- to protect their homes- then we’ve seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late 90′s into this decade, far — if you will — to the extreme that America had ever been on these.

“And now the Stand Your Ground law,” he continued. “I think the law is going to create real problems because anyone can — anyone who doesn’t have a criminal background, anyone not prohibited by the Brady Bill and caught by the checks — can basically be a part of a neighborhood watch where they have a concealed weapon whether they had proper law enforcement training or not. And whether they’ve had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.”

“So I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the Stand Your Ground laws,” President Clinton said, “and I hope that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man’s loss will not be in vain- it’s just terrible. Whatever the facts were — all these people trying to jump on him and talking about some mistake he made in his life- that’s irrelevant because unarmed person who was killed on the street by a gun. And so I hope justice will be done in this case but I hope that the larger justice that would somehow redeem a portion of this terrible loss.”

He said: “the American people should re-examine their position on that and ask: Is this really worth it? Are we really all that much safer taking the chance that this kind of thing could happen over and over and over again?”

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Bill Clinton on Bin Laden Raid: ‘I Hope That’s the Call I Would Have Made’

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Bill Clinton says in a forthcoming Obama campaign documentary that he hopes he would have made the same decision as President Obama to authorize the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“He took the harder and more honorable path,” Clinton says in a newly released excerpt of The Road We’ve Traveled.  “When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, ‘I hope that’s the call I would have made.’”

The documentary, which is directed by Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, was produced by Obama’s re-election campaign in an attempt to shape the national debate about the president’s first term. It is set to premier at Obama campaign field offices around the country on Thursday.

Vice President Joe Biden also lends his voice to the effort, portraying Obama in the latest excerpt as a tough decision-maker. “It dawned on me, he’s all alone,” Biden says of the day the president faced the final call on the bin Laden raid. “This is his decision.”

Clinton, who is stepping up his role in the campaign to re-elect the president, will reportedly appear with Obama at several re-election fundraisers in the next few months.

Biden officially begins a campaign role later this week with the first of a series of battleground state speeches aimed at framing the key issues in the general election.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

40 Victims of Flight 93 Remembered in Memorial Dedication

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SHANKSVILLE, Pa.) -- As guests entered the Flight 93 memorial dedication ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania Saturday, a brass quintet dressed in white Navy uniforms performed solemn songs on stage around a basket of white roses.

No one was sitting outside the memorial selling T-shirts or snacks.  Instead, the town is in quiet remembrance, paying their respects to the 40 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, just north of Shanksville.  The hijackers intended to crash the plane into the Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C., but passengers fought back and caused the plane to crash early, thwarting the attack.

The flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001 was brought to Shanksville shortly thereafter to fly over the site of the Flight 93 crash, while workers looked for survivors in the wreckage.  On Saturday, that flag was raised once again at the dedication ceremony as a female soldier sang the Star Spangled Banner.

The memorial features a stone wall with the names of the 40 victims standing next to a field of grass and yellow wildflowers.  Trees line the walkway next to the wall.

As each name was read, two bells were rung.  A bagpipe performance of "Amazing Grace" followed the reading of the names.  Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan sang "I Will Remember You."

"In the distance of a decade, 9/11 can feel like part of a different era," said former President George W. Bush.  But for the families, "that day will never feel like history.  The memory of that morning was fresh, and so is the pain."

"One of the lessons of 9/11 is that evil is real, and so is courage," Bush added.  "Americans are alive today because the passengers and crew chose to act, and America is forever grateful."

"There has always been a special place in the common memory for people who deliberately, knowingly, certainly laid down their lives for other people to live," said former President Bill Clinton.  "Ordinary people, given no time to decide, did the right thing...I hope and pray to God that people will remember this."

Vice President Joe Biden said passionately that the American spirit cannot be defeated, no matter what tragedy or hardship we face.

"And so we stand where it began," Biden said.  "We think of them.  We think of our nation.  We think of our history.  We think of the future.  And we think of it, because of them, with a confidence, knowing that ordinary citizens will continue to stare down fear, overwhelm evil, and bring forth hope where there seems to be none...that heroism is who we are, and that courage lies deepest and beats loudest in the heart of this nation."

President Obama and the first lady will visit the site on Sunday for the second phase of the dedication ceremony.

On Monday, three coffins filled with unidentified human remains from the crash will be buried at the memorial site in a private funeral service for family members.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul242011

Gen. Shalikashvili, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dies

Dirck Halstead//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton, died at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington Saturday. He was 75.

Shalikashvili, who was better known by his nickname, General Shali, died from complications following a stroke.

"From his arrival in the United States as a 16-year old Polish immigrant after the Second World War, to a young man who learned English from John Wayne movies, to his rise to the highest ranks of our military, Shali's life was an 'only in America' story. By any measure, he made our country a safer and better place," President Obama said in a statement.

The general served for more than 39 years on active duty and is best known for his role during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, during which time he worked to ensure the security of nuclear weapons of the former Soviet states.

With then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, he helped create NATO's Partnership for Peace and NATO enlargement programs that fostered relationships between former Soviet states and NATO.

"As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he strengthened our alliances in Europe and in Asia, forged closer defense ties with Russia, and championed the Partnership for Peace with the former Soviet states. At the same time, he oversaw successful military operations in Bosnia and Haiti, and elsewhere," the president's statement said.

When Shalikashvili retired in 1997, Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the United States.

"Throughout his career, Gen. Shalikashvili was a tremendous leader and mentor to thousands of servicemen and women, and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he represented our nation and its military with great dignity and success," read a statement from the JBLM. "Locally, he has been a stalwart supporter to our military community, a trusted adviser to military leaders at the base and a friend to the entire region."

Shalikashvili is survived by his wife, Joan and their son, Brant.

An open memorial service is scheduled to be held on Aug. 6 at the Tacoma Convention Center. A funeral service will be held at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher Dies at 85

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Former Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher died Friday night in Los Angeles at the age of 85.

Christopher served under President Bill Clinton for four years. He is also remembered for negotiating during the Iran hostage crisis under President Jimmy Carter, for which he won the Medal of Freedom in 1981.

The Scranton, North Dakota, native served in the Navy during World War II before graduating from the University of Southern California and later the Stanford Law School.

Christopher had been suffering from kidney and bladder cancer. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb212011

University of Arizona to Announce New Center for Civil Discourse

President Obama speaking at the memorial service held at the University of Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center for the victims of the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson. Photo Courtesy - The White House/Chuck Kennedy(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The University of Arizona will unveil a new, nonpartisan center Monday, nearly three months after shootings in Tucson left six people dead and 13 others injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

According to The Washington Post, the National Institute for Civil Discourse will focus on civility in political debate and will be funded by private donations.  The center will be chaired by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, and co-chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff Kenneth M. Duberstein, Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics Trey Grayson, and former Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona will serve as board members.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct202010

President Bill Clinton Lost Nuclear Codes While in Office, New Book Claims

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When you're president of the United States, you can lose a vote, you can lose popular support, and you can lose a round of golf. But you're never, ever supposed to lose the biscuit.

That's what they call the card the president is meant to keep close at hand, bearing the codes that he has to have in order to launch a nuclear attack.  For several months during the Clinton administration, a former top military officer says they lost the biscuit.

Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served under Clinton as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells the story in his just-published memoir, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior.

"At one point during the Clinton administration," Shelton writes, "the codes were actually missing for months. [...] That's a big deal -- a gargantuan deal."

Shelton claims the story has never been released before, but Ret. Air Force Lt. Col Robert Patterson told a very similar account in his own book, published seven years ago.

Patterson was one of the men who carried the football, and he says it was literally the morning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke that he made a routine request of the president to present the card so that he could swap it out for an updated version.

"He thought he just placed them upstairs," Patterson recalled.  "We called upstairs, we started a search around the White House for the codes, and he finally confessed that he in fact misplaced them.  He couldn't recall when he had last seen them."

In Patterson's telling of the story, the president lost the biscuit in 1998, but according to Shelton, the card went missing in 2000.

If the facts seem murky, that's not unusual when national security matters are involved.  Consider the old story that Jimmy Carter left his biscuit in a suit that got sent to the dry cleaners.  Today, no one will confirm the story, but no one will deny it either.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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