Lugar Praises Hillary, Raises Concerns About Bill

Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearings are now underway. Sitting next to Chuck Schumer, who introduced her, and in front of her daughter Chelsea, Clinton nodded as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made their opening remarks.

John Kerry, the committee’s new chairman, and a onetime hopeful for the job Clinton is poised to assume, opened the meeting by admiring Clinton’s "diplomatic acumen" and her "stature to project America’s world leadership."

He then yielded the floor to Dick Luger, a Republican, who called Mrs. Clinton the "epitome of a big leaguer," which he said was the ultimate requirement for a secretary of state.

It fell to Luger to outline what he called the greatest concern for Clinton’s appointment.

Luger questioned whether Clinton’s activities as secretary of state "can be reconciled with the sweeping global activities of President Bill Clinton" and said that the former president’s foundation presents "a temptation for any foreign government" to sway American foreign policy. The problem, Luger said, was the perception that a foreign donation, even a well-intentioned one aimed at the eradication of diseases like HIV-AIDS, could be perceived abroad as influencing American foreign policy. The easiest solution, Luger said, was for the foundation to simply "foreswear new foreign contributions."

He acknowledged the memorandum of understanding between the Clintons and the Obama administration to make future donations transparent, but called that a minimum requirement.

After taking back the floor, Kerry said Luger was not speaking from a partisan perspective but "is really expressing the view of the committee as a whole."