By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is seeing yet another scandal piling on top of others scandals, which hurts her campaign by shifting attention away from Republican candidate Donald Trump, experts said.
At the center of this latest in a string of Clinton controversies is the Clinton Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
According to emails released Monday that were sent and received during Clinton's tenure as U.S. secretary of state, a network of foundation donors was able to get special access to Clinton while she was secretary of state, although they did not always get what they wanted, U.S. media reported.
Republicans alleged that Clinton granted favors as secretary of state in exchange for donations to the foundation, a charge that Clinton vehemently denies.
While Clinton now enjoys a comfortable lead in the polls, ahead of Trump, the latest scandal could hurt the Democratic candidate, experts said.
"The Clinton Foundation issue is hurting Clinton. It is taking the focus off Trump's character and putting it back on Clinton," Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.
Indeed, strategists and pundits have been saying for months that Trump must get people's eyes off his bombast and offensiveness and try to make the contest about Clinton' s many scandals, perceived missteps and shortcomings while she served as secretary of state.
One example is the Clinton Foundation's receiving millions of U.S. dollars from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state.
The more reporters talk about Clinton Foundation finances and money coming from abroad, the more it raises doubts about Clinton, West noted.
"People understand the risks of money coming from abroad because it creates the possibility of divided loyalties. She needs to make sure the focus stays on Trump' s outrageous statements and policy flip-flops. That is much better terrain for her," West said, referring to Trump's many over-the-top statements in recent months.
For the last two months, Trump has failed to get the race focused on Clinton' s misdeeds by constantly shooting himself in the foot and then playing the victim role when the press covers his gaffes, West noted.
Indeed, just when it seems that Trump is starting to act more presidential, such as giving serious foreign policy speeches, he then ruins those gains by making off-the-cuff and offensive remarks.
"This week has been better (for Trump) because the news is focused on the Clinton Foundation and the new emails that will be coming out this fall," West said.
Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua this is a very complex scandal where a lot of the American people are going to have a hard time understanding the intricacies involved.
However, the controversy about the foundation does serve as a bullet point under the broader narrative of the "Clintons playing by their own rules" -- joining the email server, paid speeches, and other controversies under this same line of attack from the Republicans, Mahaffee said.
"I' m not sure if it's by design or an inability to help himself, but Trump seems to have let every opportunity to make this a referendum on Clinton and continued Democratic leadership in the White House slip away with a comment that draws attention to himself or raises questions about his leadership," he said.