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Exclusive: Bill May Give Up Foreign Income

Negotiations between the Clintons and President-elect Obama’s transition team are rapidly moving toward a formal offer of secretary of State for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), with both sides expecting a formal announcement in the next seven days, according to numerous officials who are involved.

As a key part of satisfying Obama’s vetting team, former President Bill Clinton is open to giving up foreign sources of income if she becomes secretary of State, according to a close friend.

The friend said the former president is willing to make “changes” in his lucrative post-White House career.

“There’ll be things that he did in the past that he won’t do now,” the friend said. “He’s open to looking at what the Obama people think make sense. The Obama people will say, ‘Here’s what we’re comfortable with you doing.’ And President Clinton will look at it and most likely, say, ‘OK, I can do that.’ Like her, he wants the best for this country. My read of the situation is that he’s open to working something out – that everybody’s happy. It doesn’t feel to me like that’s going to be terribly difficult.”

The officials believe the vetting can be wrapped up this week, with an announcement before Thanksgiving, which is a week from Thursday.

The Clintons will try to satisfy Obama lawyers about potential conflicts of interest without making all the information public, according to an official involved in the process.

“There’s a big difference between letting the vetters look at it and putting it online for the rest of the world.”

Clinton’s negotiating team is led by Cheryl Mills, a former Clinton administration and campaign official. The Clinton team also includes Bruce Lindsey, CEO of the William J. Clinton Foundation, and longtime Clinton aide Doug Band.

The Obama side is represented by John Podesta, a former Clinton White House chief of staff who heads the Obama transition, and his deputy Todd Stern. The teams, confirmed by Clinton intimates, were first reported by The Wall Street Journal. 

Earlier this week, people close to Obama said they were frustrated with the pace of cooperation from the Clintons, but the collaboration has picked up speed."

A key Clinton source said the job is likely to be offered and accepted.

“She does have a sense of history, and we are at a critical moment in our history,” the official said. “It’s all hands on deck as far as making the Obama administration a success. This isn't done. There are some mechanical steps that have to be taken.”

Some insiders say the backup nominee would be Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass). Other possibilities include New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) or, less likely Richard Holbrooke, a former Clinton assistant secretary of State.

Joe Lockhart of the Glover Park Group, said on CBS’ “The Early Show” that the Clinton nomination would send “a strong message to the rest of the world that someone of Senator Clinton's stature is going to engage in a way that we haven't engaged in the last eight years.

“We have a big deficit to make up with the rest of the world,” he said. “This speaks well of both [Clinton and Obama]. I believe that she's torn. What gets lost in a lot of the campaigning is how much she loves being a senator. What could she do that best serves the country at this time? They're both critical jobs. At the end of the day, she'll look at this and say, 'How can I serve my country? What is the greatest need?' These are two great options. I think she'll be happy with either."

 

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