A deal with Bill Clinton over his post-White House work helped clear the way for Hillary Rodham Clinton to join President-elect Barack Obama’s national security team as secretary of state, reshaping a once-bitter rivalry into a high-profile strategic and diplomatic union.
Obama was to be joined by the New York senator at a Chicago news conference Monday, Democratic officials said, where he also planned to announce that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would remain in his job for a year or more and that retired Marine General James M. Jones would serve as national security adviser.
The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the transition team.
To make it possible for his wife to become the top U.S. diplomat, the officials said, former President Clinton agreed:
-to disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997 and all contributors going forward.
-to refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference.
-to cease holding CGI meetings overseas.
-to volunteer to step away from day-to-day management of the foundation while his wife is secretary of state.
-to submit his speaking schedule to review by the State Department and White House counsel.
-to submit any new sources of income to a similar ethical review.
Bill Clinton’s business deals and global charitable endeavors had been expected to create problems for the former first lady’s nomination. But in negotiations with the Obama transition team, the former president agreed to several measures designed to bring transparency to those activities.
“It’s a big step,” said Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said he plans to vote to confirm Clinton.
The former president long had refused to disclose the identities of contributors to his foundation, saying many gave money on condition that they not be identified.
Lugar said there would still be “legitimate questions” raised about the former president’s extensive international involvement. “I don’t know how, given all of our ethics standards now, anyone quite measures up to this who has such cosmic ties, but … hopefully, this team of rivals will work,” Lugar said.
Obama’s choice of Hillary Clinton was an extraordinary gesture of good will after a year in which the two rivals competed for the Democratic nomination in a long, bitter primary battle.
They clashed repeatedly on foreign affairs. Obama criticized Clinton for her vote to authorize the Iraq war. Clinton said Obama lacked the experience to be president and she chided him for saying he would meet with leaders of nations such as Iran and Cuba without conditions.
The bitterness began melting away in June after Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama. She went on to campaign for him in his general election contest against Republican Sen. John McCain.
Advisers said Obama had for several months envisioned Clinton as his top diplomat, and he invited her to Chicago to discuss the job just a week after the Nov. 4 election. The two met privately Nov. 13 in Obama’s transition office in downtown Chicago.
Clinton was said to be interested and then to waver, concerned about relinquishing her Senate seat and the political independence it conferred. Those concerns were largely resolved after Obama assured her she would be able to choose a staff and have direct access to him, advisers said.
Remaining in the Senate also may not have been an attractive choice for Clinton. Despite her political celebrity, she is a relatively junior senator without prospects for a leadership position or committee chairmanship anytime soon.
Some Democrats and government insiders have questioned whether Clinton is too independent and politically ambitious to serve Obama as secretary of state. But a senior Obama adviser has said the president-elect had been enthusiastic about naming Clinton to the position from the start, believing she would bring instant stature and credibility to U.S. diplomatic relations and the advantages to her serving far outweigh potential downsides.
Clinton “is known throughout the world, very smart, a little harder line than Senator Obama took during the campaign,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close McCain friend and adviser who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said the Clintons will have to tread carefully to avoid the appearance of conflicts.
“The presumption will be that both Secretary of State Clinton and former President Clinton will be very judicious in what they take on because there’s a new dimension here,” Reed said. “I think they’ve put up a good framework. This disclosure, this transparency is the right way to go.”
Lugar and Reed both spoke on ABC’s “This Week.” Graham was on “Fox News Sunday.”