Former President Bill Clinton speaks on Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Former president Bill Clinton making his highly personal address to the convention on Tuesday © AFP

The Clinton Foundation will stop receiving foreign and corporate donations if Hillary Clinton becomes president following months of criticism over its donors that has dogged Mrs Clinton’s election campaign.

President Bill Clinton, who set up the foundation in 2001, announced the decision to staff on Thursday afternoon and said he would step down from the board if his wife were elected to the White House, a foundation spokesperson said.

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has come under intense scrutiny since Mrs Clinton launched her White House bid as Republicans criticise its ties to wealthy foreign donors and accuse the Clintons of rewarding money with access.

The Republican party, which has used the foundation as fodder for its argument that Mrs Clinton cannot be trusted, described the former president’s announcement as “too little, too late”.

The news emerged as Donald Trump, Mrs Clinton’s Republican rival, appeared to concede that his campaign rhetoric had been too divisive, saying at his first rally since shaking up his campaign this week that he regretted some of his remarks.

Questions over Mrs Clinton’s relationship with foundation donors while secretary of state have created a cloud over her campaign along with controversy over her use of a private email server.

When Mrs Clinton was at the state department she agreed to keep foundation matters separate from her duties, but emails released last week revealed seemingly close contact between Mrs Clinton’s aides and foundation officials.

The foundation will continue to accept donations from US citizens and independent charities even if Mrs Clinton wins the election.

Mr Clinton also told staff on Thursday that he would stop giving paid speeches if his wife were elected president and that the foundation would end its annual Clinton Global Initiative gathering regardless of who won in November.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said: “This effort to shield Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation after more than a year of controversy is too little, too late. After all, if everything was above board while Hillary Clinton ran the state department as the Clintons have said, then why change a thing?”

“But now that they have admitted there is a problem, the Clinton Foundation should immediately cease accepting foreign donations and return every penny ever taken from other countries, several of which have atrocious human rights records and ties to terrorism.”

The foundation’s decision was first reported by the Associated Press.

Separately, Mr Trump struck a new tone at his rally in North Carolina, saying: “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”

Mr Trump overhauled his campaign earlier this week by promoting Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican pollster, to campaign manager, and appointing Stephen Bannon, the head of the conservative Breitbart News, as chief executive.

The New York tycoon appeared to attempt to pivot towards being more presidential, but critics pointed out that Mr Trump in the past has temporarily shown signs of being less controversial before reverting to his more abrasive style.

In response to his comments, Christina Reynolds, deputy communications director for the Clinton campaign, said: “Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people. He has continued to do so through each of the 428 days from then until now, without shame or regret.

“We learned tonight that his speech writer and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologise. But that apology tonight is simply a well-written phrase until he tells us which of his many offensive, bullying and divisive comments he regrets — and changes his tune altogether.”

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