HBO host Bill Maher on Friday slammed former President Obama for reportedly accepting $400,000 for a Wall Street speech this fall, asking, "Isn’t that what sort of cost Hillary the election?"
The “Real Time” host faced off with panelists on the “Overtime” segment of his show over reports that Obama will speak at Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s healthcare conference in September for $400,000.
Former GOP communications director Tara Setmayer defended Obama's decision.
“Personally, as long as he’s not running for office again, I don’t care how much money he makes," Setmayer told Maher. "If people want to pay him that, it’s a free market value. Who cares?”
Maher responded by noting the crushing criticism Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE got during the presidential election for her paid Wall Street speeches.
“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?”
Actor and liberal activist Rob Reiner said the comparison isn’t applicable because unlike with Clinton’s speeches, Obama’s are coming after his political career is entirely 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 responded that Reiner’s stance seemed hypocritical.
“It kind of looks like, ‘When he’s on our team, we’re okay with it,’ ” said Maher.
“You could say that when a guy is president, he’s looking ahead to that $400,000 payday, and he’s not going to get it if, while he’s president, he’s going to do something to piss them off. So isn’t the best thing to do to take your $10 million book deal? Can’t you live off that?”
Obama landed $65 million for a joint book deal in March, the largest amount ever paid for a presidential memoir.
Earlier in the show, Maher surprisingly did not bring up Obama’s speech while interviewing Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.), a leading advocate of strict regulations of Wall Street banks.
Warren criticized the speech payout earlier this week, saying she was "troubled" by Obama's decision.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) went further on Friday, calling the Obama fee "distasteful" and "not a good idea."
A spokesman for the former president has defended Obama's decision, pointing out Wall Street reform instituted during his administration despite raising considerable campaign funds from the financial sector.