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WikiLeaks Claims To Release Hillary Clinton's Goldman Sachs Transcripts

By Tamara Keith | NPR
Saturday, October 15, 2016

After resisting months of calls from Bernie Sanders and others to release the transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street banks, some of Hillary Clinton's full remarks are apparently now available for all to see, with just weeks until Election Day.

We say "apparently" because the transcripts were published by WikiLeaks as part of its ongoing release of emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's personal Gmail account. The Clinton campaign is refusing to verify the authenticity of any of the documents, which it describes as stolen.

The transcript are found in a January 2016 email from Clinton campaign research director Tony Carrk to Podesta and other top Clinton advisers with the glaring subject line: "Goldman Sachs Paid Speeches."

Attached to it are what appear to be transcripts of three paid appearances Clinton made at events held by the investment banking firm in 2013.

Clinton earned millions of dollars giving paid speeches in the time between her tenure at the State Department and her campaign for president, but it was the $675,000 she earned speaking to Goldman Sachs that attracted the most attention and ire.

During the Democratic primary, Sanders made mocking her highly paid speeches a regular part of his stump speech.

"If you're going to give a speech for $225,000 it's gotta be really, don't you think an extraordinarily brilliant speech," Sanders said to roars of laughter and cheers from a crowd in Appleton, Wis. "I mean why else would they pay that kind of money? And it must be a speech which will open up the eyes of the world, transform our country. Must be a speech written in Shakespearean prose. So I think, if it is such a fantastic speech, the Secretary should make it available to all of us."

Now everyone can judge for themselves whether Clinton's words were transformative, Shakespearean, or just sort of mundane.

And it turns out they weren't actually speeches in the traditional sense. Instead, they appear to be extended Q-and-A's with Goldman Sachs executives, sometimes taking questions from others as well.

The entire transcripts are below.

Clinton On Dodd-Frank

The part of her remarks most likely to be politically problematic concern financial industry regulation. In an Oct., 2013, discussion with Tim O'Neill, who is the co-head of investment management at Goldman Sachs, Clinton appears to suggest the impetus for the Dodd–Frank Wall Street reform legislation was at least partially "for political reasons." President Obama signed the law in 2010 and Clinton supported it then, as she does now.

Clinton also is said to have remarked, "There's nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad."

In the transcripts released Saturday, Clinton explains:

"There was a lot of complaining about Dodd-Frank, but there was also a need to do something because, for political reasons, if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing, but what you do is really important."

Clinton also said that "there are so many places in the country where the banks are not doing what they need to do because they're scared of regulations, they're scared of the other shoe dropping."

This is far softer language than Clinton uses on the campaign trail. She often praises Dodd-Frank and says she wants it strengthened. And in a 2015 New York Times op-ed titled "How I'd Rein In Wall Street," Clinton was much tougher on Wall Street reform than she was behind closed doors, saying, "As president, I would not only veto any legislation that would weaken financial reform, but I would also fight for tough new rules, stronger enforcement and more accountability that go well beyond Dodd-Frank."

Here is that section of the transcript in full:

MR. O'NEILL: Let's come back to the US. Since 2008, there's been an awful lot of seismic activity around Wall Street and the big banks and regulators and politicians. Now, without going over how we got to where we are right now, what would be your advice to the Wall Street community and the big banks as to the way forward with those two important decisions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I represented all of you for eight years. I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it, but I do — I think that when we talk about the regulators and the politicians, the economic consequences of bad decisions back in '08, you know, were devastating, and they had repercussions throughout the world.

That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of '09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that's an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom.

And I think that there's a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let's make sure that we do it right this time.

And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn't that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later.

I mean, it's still happening, as you know. People are looking back and trying to, you know, get compensation for bad mortgages and all the rest of it in some of the agreements that are being reached.

There's nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad. How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works?And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.

And I think there has to be a recognition that, you know, there's so much at stake now, I mean, the business has changed so much and decisions are made so quickly, in nano seconds basically. We spend trillions of dollars to travel around the world, but it's in everybody's interest that we have a better framework, and not just for the United States but for the entire world, in which to operate and trade.

You know, I remember having a long conversation with Warren Buffett, who is obviously a friend of mine, but I think he's the greatest investor of our modern era, and he said, you know, I would go and I'd talk to my friends and I'd ask them to explain to me what a default credit swap was, and by the time they got into their fifth minute, I had no idea what they were talking about.And when they got into their tenth minute, I realized they didn't have any idea what they were talking about.

I mean, Alan Greenspan said, I didn't understand at all what they were trading. So I think it's in everybody's interest to get back to a better transparent model.

And we need banking. I mean, right now, there are so many places in our country where the banks are not doing what they need to do because they're scared of regulations, they're scared of the other shoe dropping, they're just plain scared,so credit is not flowing the way it needs to to restart economic growth.

So people are, you know, a little --they're still uncertain, and they're uncertain both because they don't know what might come next in terms of regulations, but they're also uncertain because of changes in a global economy that we're only beginning to take hold of.

So first and foremost, more transparency,more openness, you know, trying to figure out, we're all in this together, how we keep this incredible economic engine in this country going. And this is, you know, the nerves, the spinal column.

And with political people, again, I would say the same thing, you know, there was a lot of complaining about Dodd-Frank, but there was also a need to do something because for political reasons, if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing, but what you do is really important.

And I think the jury is still out on that because it was very difficult to sort of sort through it all.

And, of course, I don't, you know, I know that banks and others were worried about continued liability and other problems down the road, so it would be better if we could have had a more open exchange about what we needed to do to fix what had broken and then try to make sure it didn't happen again, but we will keep working on it.

MR. O'NEILL: By the way, we really did appreciate when you were the senator from New York and your continued involvement in the issues (inaudible) to be courageous in some respects to associated with Wall Street and this environment. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don't feel particularly courageous. I mean, if we're going to be an effective, efficient economy, we need to have all part of that engine running well, and that includes Wall Street and Main Street.

And there's a big disconnect and a lot of confusion right now. So I'm not interested in, you know, turning the clock back or pointing fingers, but I am interested in trying to figure out how we come together to chart a better way forward and one that will restore confidence in, you know, small and medium-size businesses and consumers and begin to chip away at the unemployment rate.

So it's something that I, you know, if you're a realist, you know that people have different roles to play in politics, economics, and this is an important role, but I do think that there has to be an understanding of how what happens here on Wall Street has such broad consequences not just for the domestic but the global economy, so more thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don't kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here.

Clinton on President Obama's Ability To Work With Congress

In the midst of a discussion about the Affordable Care Act, O'Neill asks Clinton about President Obama. Her response seems less than a full-throated defense of a president who's been criticized as aloof.

Do you think that if he were more personally engaged with Congress on these issues, that we would have a different result?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don't know, Tim. I mean, I've obviously been asked this and I've seen the critique. You know, different presidents have different strengths, they bring different life experiences.

I had the opportunity of working with the President closely for four years on some very tough national security issues. He's an incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, decisive person in pursuing the agenda he sets.

But he may not, you know, be someone who we think of as spending a lot of time in a give and take of politics; however, I know that he spent a lot of time early on in the first term with the Republicans in trying, as you recall, to put together the [grand bargain] and it turned out that the Republicans' side, particularly in the house, couldn't deliver on even a small [bargain].

Clinton Gets Asked About Running for President

On more than one occasion, Clinton is asked in various ways about whether she will run for president. The way she describes the prospect in October of 2013 is downright idealistic when compared to the presidential race she is now in the midst of.

MR. O'NEILL: So last question, if --what would you advise someone if he or she came to you and said, I'm thinking about running for the Democratic presidential nomination?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Another one of those hypotheticals. Well, I would probably say, are you crazy?

MR. O'NEILL: Wait, wait. SECRETARY CLINTON: Look, I think whoever runs next time has to have a very clear idea of where he or she wants to take the country and has to run on those ideas, because the election cannot be about personalities, participants sniping, all of the irrelevant stuff the day after the election sort of dissipates, and you wake up and say, okay, now what am I going to do?

It needs to be an election about the future. So win or lose, people know what you want to do. You took it to the country, you tried to build a consensus for it, which can hopefully avoid some of the end runs that we've been seeing in the last few weeks, and then you have to have enough of an understanding of how government works to be able to execute the operational side of it, the slow, hard boring of hard boards as (inaudible) said about politics, there's nothing glamorous about it.

Clinton On Political Compromise

During a June, 2013, Q-and-A led by Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Clinton was asked by an audience member what she thought has to be done to get "America back to a functional government." This was just months before the government shutdown, but it is also a question Clinton will have to wrestle with if she wins the election.

Clinton argued for a return to an earlier brand of politics, where compromise was a virtue. "The compromise may not be perfect," Clinton said. "In fact, it rarely is, but it represents the big thinking and the political will that is currently available in order to make a decision."

She went on, arguing that elected officials who put party above all shouldn't keep their jobs.

"And I don't care if you're a liberal icon or a conservative icon," Clinton said. "If you are not willing to be active in your democracy and do what is necessary to deal with our problems, I think you should be voted out. I think you should just be voted out, and I would like to see more people saying that."

Clinton On The Political Press

In that same June conversation, Clinton didn't exactly hide her disdain for political reporters, complaining "our political press has just been captured by trivia."

In the transcript, Clinton continues, "And so you don't want to give them any more time to trivialize the importance of the issues than you have to give them."

Clinton on WikiLeaks

In an October 29, 2013, conversation with Lloyd Blankfein, the topic of WikiLeaks comes up. Clinton points out she was secretary of state when the NSA documents about surveillance techniques used by the U.S. intelligence community were released.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. I was Secretary of State when WikiLeaks happened. You remember that whole debacle. So out come hundreds of thousands of documents. And I have to go on an apology tour. And I had a jacket made like a rock star tour. The Clinton Apology Tour.

I had to go and apologize to anybody who was in any way characterized in any of the cables in any way that might be considered less than flattering. And it was painful. Leaders who shall remain nameless, who were characterized as vain, egotistical, power hungry --

MR. BLANKFEIN: Proved it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — corrupt. And we knew they were. This was not fiction. And I had to go and say, you know, our ambassadors, they get carried away, they want to all be literary people. They go off on tangents. What can I say. I had grown men cry. I mean, literally. I am a friend of America, and you say these things about me.

MR. BLANKFEIN: That's an Italian accent. SECRETARY CLINTON: Have a sense of humor.

MR. BLANKFEIN: And so you said, Silvio. (Laughter.)

Clinton On Business People Running For Office

In remarks that might seem ironic in hindsight, Clinton at that event said she liked the idea of people with business experience running for office.

MALE ATTENDEE: My question is, as entrepreneurs, we risk a lot. And Mike Bloomberg had 30 billion other reasons than to take office. Do we need a wholesale change in Washington that has more to do with people that don't need the job than have the job?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That's a really interesting question. You know, I would like to see more successful business people run for office. I really would like to see that because I do think, you know, you don't have to have 30 billion, but you have a certain level of freedom. And there's that memorable phrase from a former member of the Senate: You can be maybe rented but never bought.

And I think it's important to have people with those experiences. And especially now, because many of you in this room are on the cutting edge of technology or health care or some other segment of the economy, so you are people who look over the horizon. And coming into public life and bringing that perspective as well as the success and the insulation that success gives you could really help in a lot of our political situations right now.

Meg Anderson contributed to this report.

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