Saturday, December 05, 2020

Do You Know How Much Damage One Corrupt Bill Clinton Can Cause?

vanityfair |  Band’s ultimate goal was to transform Clinton from a beleaguered politician, remembered for sex scandals and debating what the meaning of the word is is, into the world’s philanthropist in chief. Band came up with the concept at the 2003 World Economic Forum as he watched attendees flock to Clinton like groupies. In 2005, Band convinced Clinton to host his own version of Davos. Celebrities, billionaires, and CEOs descended on New York to mix and mingle while making “pledges” to donate to charity. The Clinton Global Initiative quickly established itself as one of the hottest tickets on the conference circuit. In 2007, Gallup ranked Clinton’s favorability at 63 percent. “Clinton was happy because CGI gave him what he wanted--redemption and being in the spotlight,” Band said.

As the impresario of CGI, Band became a central node in a network of the most powerful people on the planet. Because Clinton didn’t carry a cell phone or use email, anyone who wanted to speak to Clinton had to go through Band. (At his peak, Band carried three BlackBerries at all times.) Most petitioners didn’t get through the door. Not surprisingly, this pissed off a lot of people. “You make so many enemies when you’re the right-hand guy to a powerful person. You just can’t make everyone happy,” Ruddy said. Band didn’t help himself by coming across to many as self-important and blunt. “You had to kiss Doug’s ass to get anywhere. It was like Doug began to think he was Bill Clinton,” said a Clinton adviser who dealt frequently with Band. Clinton ignored Band’s critics because Band was getting results.

Band’s relationship with Clinton rocketed Band into the stratosphere of Manhattan’s social scene. He frequented Bungalow 8 and Buddakan, and briefly dated Naomi Campbell. Band’s bachelor years ended when he met Lily Rafii, a Morgan Stanley banker turned handbag designer, at a Bergdorf’s trunk show. In 2007, they wed at the 17th-century Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, near Paris, at a ceremony attended by no fewer than three billionaires. Clinton delivered a moving toast. “If there is one person I want in a foxhole with me, it’s Doug,” Band recalled Clinton saying.

His problem was that someone else was already in the foxhole.

Politics is the Clinton family business, and it was inevitable that Band would get squeezed between Bill’s and Hillary’s competing ambitions and conflicting priorities. It’s hard to overstate how parallel Bill’s and Hillary’s lives had become by the 2000s. “It was separate worlds that had very little overlap,” Band said. Band was Bill’s guy, which meant he saw Hillary’s career as a threat. “I wanted him to stay out of politics and do great big things,” Band said.

As Hillary’s 2008 run approached, the tensions played out, and the campaign brought on unwelcome scrutiny of Bill’s postpresidency. How exactly had Bill, with Band’s help, earned that $109 million after leaving office? The Wall Street Journal uncovered Band’s role in brokering a $100 million real estate deal between Italian con artist Raffaello Follieri, Ron Burkle, and a Clinton Foundation donor named Michael Cooper. (Follieri wired Band a $200,000 finder’s fee, which Band later returned.) A New York Times investigation exposed how Canadian mining mogul Frank Giustra won a lucrative uranium mining concession in Kazakhstan two days after Giustra and Bill dined with Kazakhstan’s strongman president. (Months later, Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $100 million more.)