HBO “Real Time” talk show host and comedian Bill Maher questioned the $400,000 speaking fee former President Barack Obama is scheduled to receive for a speech to a Wall Street firm later this year, asking, “Isn’t that what sort of cost Hillary the election?”
Maher discussed the issue with a panel in a segment of his show where former GOP communications director Tara Setmayer explained she saw no problem with Obama accepting the fee, The Hill reported Saturday.
“Personally, as long as he’s not running for office again, I don’t care how much money he makes,” Setmayer said. “If people want to pay him that, it’s a free market value. Who cares?”
Maher responded by comparing the blowback against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while running as the Democratic nominee for president in 2016 over payments she received for speeches she had made to Wall Street.
“But, wait a second, the current president is trying to undo all of his Wall Street regulations, and then he goes to Wall Street and takes (money). Isn’t that what sort of cost Hillary the election?” he asked.
“Are those ‘horrible’ speeches she made to Wall Street, and she couldn’t release the transcripts of it?” Maher added.
Panelist Rob Reiner, actor and liberal activist, countered that there was a difference because Obama’s political career was over.
“The difference is, ‘Are you in the pocket of Wall Street?’ And (Hillary Clinton) was running for office. He’s not running for anything right now.”
Maher countered, “It kind of looks like, ‘When he’s on our team, we’re okay with it.'”
“You could say that when a guy is president, he’s looking ahead to that $400,000 payday,” Maher said. “Isn’t the best thing to do to take your $10 million book deal? Can’t you live off that?”
Obama signed a joint book deal with his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, in March for over $65 million, marking the highest payment ever for presidential memoirs, Newsweek reported.
A spokesperson for Obama defended his decision to accept the fee for the speech, maintaining the former president had both initiated regulations on Wall Street while also receiving campaign contributions from financial industries.
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