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Bill Clinton: Our foundation never did anything 'knowingly inappropriate'

Colin Campbell
Screen Shot 2015 05 04 at 7.59.42 AM
Screen Shot 2015 05 04 at 7.59.42 AM

(NBC News) Former President Bill Clinton.

Former President Bill Clinton defended his family's foundation in an NBC News interview that aired Monday.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy," Clinton said, according to NBC. "That just hasn't happened."

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

A high-profile new book, "Clinton Cash," alleges that while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, Bill Clinton earned speaking fees and foundation contributions in exchange for favors from the State Department. The Clintons and their allies, however, have dismissed the book as a collection of partisan conspiracy theories about information that was mostly public already.

"There has been a very deliberate attempt to take the foundation down," Bill Clinton said on NBC.

Clinton, giving his interview amid a tour of the Clinton Foundation's African projects, also insisted there was nothing wrong with soliciting huge contributions from rich people and foreign countries.

"I don't think there's anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people, and countries that are seriously involved in development, to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and moves them up," he said. "I don't think there's anything bad with that. I think it's good."

And as far as his own speaking fees are concerned — which reportedly command as much as $500,000 per event — Clinton said he wasn't planning on stopping anytime soon.

"I gotta pay our bills," he said.

Clinton was paid more than $100 million for speeches between 2001 and 2013. According to The Washington Post, at least $26 million of that total came from major Clinton Foundation donors, which the paper said "demonstrates how closely intertwined Bill and Hillary Clinton's charitable work has become with their growing personal wealth."

Some critics have also blasted the foundation for not fulfilling its signed transparency obligations and for taking donations from oppressive foreign governments. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), a rival presidential candidate, has claimed Saudi Arabia's contribution — between $10 million and $25 million — undermines Hillary Clinton's record on women's rights. But Bill Clinton said he didn't have any regrets about the Saudi money.

"I don't think I did anything that was against the interests of the United States," he said.

Watch the NBC interview below:

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Last updated 9:45 a.m. with additional context.

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