Tax records show that Clinton accepted hefty sums to make private speeches to some of the giants of the financial sector, including $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs. But the content of those speeches remain a mystery, as Clinton has repeatedly refused to shed light on what she may have told the high-ranking executives at those institutions.
Sanders made the Wall Street transcripts a major line of attack during Thursday’s debate in Brooklyn, and even the CNN moderators put Clinton on the spot.
“If there’s nothing in those speeches that will change voters’ minds, why not just release the transcripts and put these speeches to bed?” debate moderator Dana Bash said to cheers from the audience.
“If everybody agrees to do it — there are other speeches from money on the other side, I understand that,” Clinton said, drawing boos.
Bernie Sanders hit Clinton hard on the Wall Street transcripts, saying she is in no position to take on the excesses and corruption of the financial sector when she had been so cozy with them in the past.
“Hillary Clinton called them out. They must’ve been really crushed by this. Was that before or after you received huge sums of money after by giving speaking engagements behind closed doors? They’ve must’ve been very upset,” he said.
Even other members of the Democratic Party are now turning on Hillary Clinton after her refusal to release her Wall Street speech transcripts. Former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley called out Clinton during Thursday’s debate, saying that she needs to share the transcripts and comparing her refusal to Mitt Romney’s decision to keep his tax records secret in 2012.
Former Barack Obama adviser David Axelrod also noted the inconsistency of Clinton’s stance on the transcripts.
But, for his part, Axelrod was equally critical of Bernie Sanders, saying the Vermont Senator could offer no specifics on how taking Wall Street money may have unfairly influenced Hillary Clinton’s decision-making.
There is already some idea of what may be in Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches. In February, Politico tracked down some Goldman Sachs executives who were at her 2013 speech in Arizona and said that Clinton spoke “glowingly” of the work the bank had done to create jobs and raise capital.
The attendees said Clinton also spoke about the bank’s diverse workforce, with many women in high-ranking positions. Clinton, who has been critical of the role banks played in the 2008 financial collapse, did not raise those criticisms in her speech, they said.
“It was pretty glowing about us,” one of the attendees said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”
“It was mostly basic stuff, small talk, chit-chat,” another added. “But in this environment, it could be made to look really bad.”