The guy in the audience said it was a matter of trust. “Please just release those transcripts so we know exactly where you stand,” he said.
But Hillary Clinton wasn’t going there. At the MSNBC town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday evening in Las Vegas, Clinton once again refused to release transcripts or recordings of the secret speeches she was paid millions of dollars to make to Wall Street banks.
Clinton literally laughed off the question when we first asked her in January. Several days later, when Chuck Todd asked her during an MSNBC debate in New Hampshire, she said she would “look into it.”
Shortly thereafter, however, Clinton had a new talking point, which is the one she used again on Thursday night, in response to a question from a self-identified Bernie Sanders supporter in the audience — a realtor named Joe Sacco.
“Why are you hesitant to release transcripts or audio-video recordings of those meetings — in order to be transparent with the American people regarding the promises and assurances that you have made to the big banks?” Sacco asked.
Clinton replied, “I’m happy to release anything I have when everybody else does the same, because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Senator Sanders.”
Sacco followed up by noting that Clinton had changed her position on marriage equality, and that she faces trust issues. He repeated his request to release the transcripts. But again, Clinton declined to answer and pivoted to explaining her positions on LGBT rights. Watch:
Clinton speaking contracts that have been made public stipulate that a stenographer is hired to make a record of her speeches and that she owns the transcripts. As the demand for her to release the transcripts has increased, Clinton’s team has reportedly began reviewing the documents to assess the political risk of making them public.
Records show Bill and Hillary Clinton made over $125 million from giving paid speeches since 2001. In particular, critics question why Hillary Clinton received over $675,000 from Goldman Sachs, an investment bank notorious for using its ties to public officials to influence policy, over the course of three speeches in 2013.
And while Clinton likened her paid speeches to similar speeches given by Bernie Sanders, financial records show Sanders made $1,876 for two paid speeches and a television appearance last year. Sanders donated the speech fees to a local charity in Vermont that serves low-income families.
An attendee of one of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches said she gave such a flattering speech that she “sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.” According the Wall Street Journal, Clinton used one of her speeches to the bank to thank the audience members for what they had done for the country.