“Where did people come away with this idea that Hillary can’t be trusted?” she asked, then answered, “We heard it over and over.” – Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. Quoted in: Rossman, Sean. (Feb. 16, 2017). “Trump’s repetitive rhetoric is a trick used in advertising.” USA Today On Politics Newsletter
A recap of twenty-five years of propaganda attacks on the Clintons.
Despite its length, it is not exhaustive.
A CASE STUDY: HILLARY CLINTON’S DEATH BY PROPAGANDA
HILLARY CLINTON TIME LINE – The Short Version
If there is one lesson learned by the right-wing propagandists of America over the past twenty-five years, it’s “Keep the Pot Boiling, Something Will Arise.” Everyone does foolish and inconsiderate things they’d prefer to keep to themselves. No one, living or dead, can be subjected to microscopic scrutiny and emerge unscathed, especially when it continues for twenty-five years.
The greatest difficulty one encounters in fighting against a resolute and nonstop propaganda campaign is the enormous speed with which propagandists can generate emotionally effective yet completely unsubstantiated lies, and relentlessly pound them past the reasoning centers of the brains of their target audience. and into their deeper emotional centers. As numerous social psychological studies have shown, the first story is usually the one accepted.
Later retractions or proofs of falsehood are often ignored and forgotten, and the lie becomes even more firmly believed. This is a fundamental flaw in the wiring of the human brain.
The propaganda campaign against the Clintons began in September, 1992, during an investigation into the failure of Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan, and there was hardly a day through the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, that one or more elements weren’t re-hashed and re-hammered.
What follows is a recitation of over twenty-five events, many entirely fictitious, used as propaganda against Bill and Hillary Clinton over the past twenty-five years. In the few instances where there is even a grain of truth, it consists of an extra-marital affair for Bill Clinton. All the rest is fluff, fiction, podium-pounding, grandstanding, innuendo, irrelevant facts and statements taken out-of-context, and an enormous amount of pure, vicious lying, all intended to misinform and frighten the American public. This propaganda war amounts to a campaign of domestic terrorism, unrecognized until now.
The Madison Guarantee investigation morphed into the Whitewater Investigation, lasting from 1995 until 2000. Along the way there was:
- Gennifer Flowers
- Vince Foster & Travelgate
- Vince Foster’s Death
- Christopher Ruddy & The Strange Death of Vincent Foster
- Richard Mellon Scaife
- The American Spectator
- The Arkansas Project
- The Paula Jones Case
- Monica Lewinsky
- Senate trial of Bill Clinton
- The Clinton Body Count
- The Clinton Chronicles
- The Kathleen Willey Case
- Fox News Channel
After Bill Clinton left the White House, there was:
- Benghazi Consular Attack
- Special Bonus – Lebanon in the Reagan Era 1983-84
- Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server
- The Bradley Foundation
- The Clinton Foundation
- Special Bonus – The Donald J. Trump Foundation
- The Clinton Cash Book
- The Russian Uranium Deal
- Fake News
- Huma Abedin
- Special Bonus – James Comey & the 2016 October Surprise
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was lambasted for her college assignment essay about community organizer Saul Alinsky; later she took a case assigned to her by a local judge, a legal-aid defense for a man accused of rape. Her worse crime during Bill’s presidency seems to be her acknowledgement that she wanted to spend her time in the White House doing something useful and challenging, not just “baking cookies.” Americans – accustomed to recent first ladies such as Barbara Bush, author of an insider’s view of the White House from the viewpoint of her dog, Millie, and Nancy Reagan who consulted her astrologer, wore red and looked thin – were critical of Hillary, who combined intelligence and ambition in a manner that many middle-Americans couldn’t abide.
After the Clintons left the White House, they were lambasted for earning high speaking fees and for the Clinton Foundation. Apparently the foundation baffled people: Why did they take donations and spend them doing charitable work or supporting the charitable work of other organizations? They must be Up To Something. Hillary Clinton went into the U.S. Senate, representing New York. All the while, conservative propagandists like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh kept up the drum beat, taking their talking points from Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s chief propagandist. Every day, the right wing talking heads would hammer Rove’s slogan of the day, and the Clintons were always in the gunsights. After losing a presidential bid to Barack Obama in a campaign during which she was constantly criticized for sounding shrill when passionate, she became Secretary of State under Obama. Right-wing talking heads then began blaming her for all that went wrong in the world: arms races, Islamic fundamentalist jihad, balance-of-trade, same-sex marriage, American business outsourcing to Asia, gun violence, Jewish settlements on the West Bank, both the presence and the lack of war. Always she was characterized as shrill, pushy and fake. When the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and four Americans were killed, it set off a chain of eight investigations, all reaching the conclusion that Hillary Clinton had done nothing wrong. In the process of those investigations, her private email server came to light, then later the existence of Clinton emails on a computer belonging to Clinton’s advisor, Huma Abedin. Abedin herself was branded a Muslim radical and infiltrator, all of which was debunked as propaganda and lies.
The propaganda ratcheted up when she declared her candidacy for the president. All the old talking points were trotted out. When nothing could be proven against her, the talking points against Bill Clinton involvements with other women were repeatedly revived so she could then be accused as his enabler. A far more detailed recitation of the elements in this propaganda war follows below.
HILLARY CLINTON TIME LINE – The Long. Long Version
[Note] With the exception of the information on the Donald J. Trump Foundation and the James Comey October Surprise of 2016, none of the information below is the result of original investigation on our part. It was all found on well-known and often-used websites, especially The Atlantic, Bloomberg, CNN, FactCheck, New York Times, Politico, PolitiFact, Snopes, Washington Post, and especially Wikipedia, and appears here either verbatim or shortened. Links to the original posting source are supplied throughout. When a topic title embeds a source link, that source provides all or most of the material for that topic. If material from other sources are used within that topic, that material will have it’s own link.
MADISON GUARANTEE SAVINGS AND LOAN INVESTIGATION MORPHS INTO THE WHITEWATER INVESTIGATION
In September 1992, L. Jean Lewis, investigating the failure of Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan, owned by Jim and Susan McDougal. submitted a criminal referral to the FBI naming Bill and Hillary Clinton as witnesses in this case. The U.S. Attorney and the FBI determined that the referral lacked merit, but Lewis continued to pursue the case.
In 1978, when Bill Clinton was an underpaid Arkansas Attorney General, he and Hillary decided to try to earn some investment income. The McDougals offered to take them on as partners with them on 230 acres of undeveloped land on the White River in the Ozark Mtns., to be subdivided and sold as vacation home property. By the time the project was incorporated in 1979 as the Whitewater Development Corp., the plan had been pole-axed by soaring mortgage rates heading above 20 percent, and the Clintons eventually lost between $37,000 and $69,000 on the deal.
This ill-timed and money-losing real estate investment was magnified far into the absurd, eventually leading to the six-year Kenneth Starr investigation. Starr eventually left the investigation for private practice, and Robert Ray’s report, released September 2000, two months before George W. Bush was elected as president, stated that “…the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct.” Sixty million dollars in taxpayer money was spent by the investigation to reach this conclusion.
In 2010, Ken Starr told Fox News that he regretted that his investigation of Mr. Clinton had taken so long and that it “brought great pain to a lot of people.” It distracted Clinton from real problems such as the growing threat from Osama bin Laden and the growth of Islamic jihadism.
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GENNIFER FLOWERS CONTROVERSY
During Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential election campaign, Gennifer Flowers claimed that she’d had a twelve-year relationship with him from 1977 to 1989.
After Bill Clinton initially denied the affair on 60 minutes, Flowers released secretly-taped phone conversations with Clinton. The tapes were never lab-tested for authenticity, and James Carville, George Stephanopoulos and others claimed the tapes had been doctored. In a 2000 interview with journalist Tim Russert, Stephanopoulos said, “Oh, it was absolutely his voice, but they were selectively edited in a way to – to create some – some impression.”
In January 1998 Bill Clinton admitted to a single 1977 sexual encounter with Flowers, during a deposition in which he denied Kathleen Willey’s sexual accusations against him, an admission he repeated in his 2004 autobiography, My Life. In 1998, Flowers admitted that she had made a total net profit of $500,000 from publicity on the affair.
Flowers sued Stephanopoulos, Carville and others in 1999 for defamation, adding Hillary Clinton in 2000, claiming that they orchestrated a campaign to discredit her. The case was dismissed in 2004 by summary judgment given by a US District Court; the dismissal was affirmed in 2006 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
In 2007, Flowers was broadly supportive of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, saying that she wanted to “support my own gender.” She also denied that she had “any interest whatsoever in getting back out there and bashing Hillary Clinton.” In 2016 after tweeting her support for Trump, he invited her to attend a TV debate between him and Clinton, but the Trump campaign later withdrew the invitation.
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On January 23, 1993, Anna Quindlen used the term “Nannygate” in her syndicated column to refer to the problem then plaguing Zoë Baird, nominated by Bill Clinton for U.S. Attorney General, and it soon gained wide-scale use. Bill Clinton wanted a woman for Attorney General. Baird, a 40-year-old senior vice president and general counsel at Aetna Life and Casualty Company who had previously worked in the Justice Department during the Carter administration, filled the bill.
Baird was attacked when it became known that she and her husband had broken the law by employing two illegal aliens from Peru as a nanny and chauffeur for their young child. They had also failed to pay Social Security taxes for the workers until shortly before the disclosures. To Bill Clinton’s surprise, the news elicited a firestorm of public opinion – fanned briskly by Clinton’s enemies – against Baird.
Baird had told authorities performing background checks of the two workers. She said she had thought that the fact that they were sponsoring the couple for citizenship made the hiring acceptable, and that, on advice of their lawyer, they were not permitted to pay the taxes for people who were not yet in the country legally. Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster agreed that Baird had been justified in following her lawyer’s advice regarding the payment of taxes on household employees.
In the eye of their conservative attackers, and the public they aroused, two factors were critical: the Attorney General was in charge of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); Baird and her husband were wealthy, making $600,000 a year. They could afford to pay the taxes, and someone running the INS ought to know how the applicable law worked.
Nannygate raged across America as the wealthy found that the “Zoë Baird problem” – hiring undocumented workers and paying them off the books – was widespread. Television crews staked out the Baird home. One top Senate official later stated, “There were phone calls to offices, local editorials….The issue created a firestorm on conservative talk radio, then emerging as a potent force in American politics. Rush Limbaugh was especially involved in the issue, for instance weighing in to say that Baird’s “blame-it-on-the-husband” defense was a “feminazi” ploy. On January 22, 1993 her nomination was withdrawn.
A month later, the nomination of Kimba Wood for Attorney General also failed for much the same reason: hiring an undocumented immigrant for child-care duties, although at the time of hiring it was legal, and Wood paid social security taxes for the worker. The Clinton administration then said that hiring practices for household help would be examined for all of the more than one thousand presidential appointments under consideration, slowing the hiring process considerably. Clinton finally selected Janet Reno for Attorney General; she was confirmed and served for eight years.
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The White House travel office controversy, sometimes referred to as Travelgate, was the first major ethics controversy of the Clinton administration. In May 1993, about four months after Clinton took office, seven employees of the White House Travel Office were fired. Although staff employees theoretically serve at the pleasure of the President and can be dismissed without cause, in practice, such employees usually remain in their posts for many years.
The White House stated that the firings occurred because an FBI investigation had found financial improprieties and possible kickbacks in the Travel Office during previous administrations. Critics claimed the Clintons just wanted to have friends take over the travel business. Heavy media attention forced the White House to reinstate most of the employees in other jobs and remove the Clinton associates from the travel role.
Further investigations by the FBI, the Department of Justice, the White House, the General Accounting Office, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, and the Whitewater Independent Counsel all took place in following years. Travel Office Director Billy Dale was charged with embezzlement but found not guilty in 1995. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr exonerated Bill Clinton of any involvement in 1998.
Hillary Clinton came under scrutiny for allegedly having played a central role in the firings and making false statements about her role in it. In 2000, Whitewater Independent Counsel Robert Ray issued his final report on Travelgate, finding that there was insufficient evidence that her statements were either knowingly false or that she understood that her statements led to the firings.
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VINCE FOSTER’S INVOLVEMENT IN TRAVELGATE
Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster became worried about the planned firings and asked the FBI to hold off while KPMG Peat Marwick performed an accounting review. Three days later on May 17, KPMG reported that the Travel Office records were so poor and incomplete that they could not do a real audit. One KPMG representative later described the office as “an ungodly mess in terms of records” with ten years of material piled up in a closet. Because of this, the terminations were made on May 19. The resulting political acrimony and accusations greatly depressed Foster. In his torn-up resignation note found upon his death, he wrote “No one in The White House, to my knowledge, violated any law or standard of conduct, including any action in the Travel Office. There was no intent to benefit any individual or specific group. […] The press is covering up the illegal benefits they received from the travel staff.” The last comment may have referred to the Travel Office’s lax customs treatment on goods reporters had brought back from foreign trips.
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VINCE FOSTER’S DEATH
Vince Foster (1/15/45 – 7/20/93) was a partner from 1974 to 1992 in the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, AK. He and Hillary Clinton were colleagues and friends there, and despite his numerous successes and awards in Arkansas Law (named Arkansas Outstanding Lawyer of the Year in June, 1993), he chose to accept the Clinton’s invitation to join the White House as Deputy White House Counsel under Bernard W. Nussbaum, in early 1993, serving until he died 7/20/93. He had no experience in or love for politics, and his wife and son – a senior in high school – stayed behind in Little Rock. During the transition phase, he had the job of vetting appointments, essentially to find out their level of honesty and ego, a task which he found depressing and anxiety-causing for himself. He blamed himself for the failure of the Zoë Baird nomination for Attorney General, which collapsed into “Nannygate”, as he had not anticipated the political backlash for hiring illegal aliens as domestic servants. The equally unsuccessful Kimba Wood and Lani Guinier appointments were also under Foster’s purview. He also had to resign from the Country Club of Little Rock once its all-white membership became a political issue for others in the administration.
His May 8, 1993 commencement address at the University of Arkansas Law School was considered by one listener as “the most depressing graduation speech I had ever heard, in both content and manner.” Its content on loss of reputation reflected his worsening state of mind: “There is no victory, no advantage, no fee, no favor, which is worth even a blemish on your reputation for intellect and integrity. … Dents to the reputation in the legal profession are irreparable.” Four days later, he became a heavily criticized target when Travelgate broke, as he had been involved in the White House Travel Office firings, and such attacks continued throughout June and July. Hating the public spotlight, he became quite upset over the matter and the possibility of a congressional hearing at which he might be called to testify. He developed insomnia and suffered continued weight loss. He considered resigning his position, but feared a personal humiliation upon returning to Arkansas.
On July 19 his Arkansas doctor prescribed over the phone the anti-depressant medication trazodone. The next day he was found dead in Fort Marcy Park, the result of a gun shot in the mouth. No other wounds were found on his body. His depression was later assessed as clinical depression. A draft resignation letter was found torn into 27 pieces in his briefcase. The letter contained a list of complaints, including, “The WSJ editors lie without consequence” and saying, “I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport.”
There were five official or governmental investigations into Foster’s death. All concluded that he committed suicide.
1. United States Park Police, assisted by the FBI and several other state and federal agencies. Their joint report of 8/10/93 stated “The condition of the scene, the medical examiner’s findings and the information gathered clearly indicate that Mr. Foster committed suicide.”
2. A coroner and Independent Counsel Robert B. Fiske issued a report 6/30/94, utilizing FBI resources and incorporated the views of several experienced pathologists. It concluded: “The overwhelming weight of the evidence compels the conclusion … that Vincent Foster committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993.”
3. U.S. Congressional investigation, led by Pennsylvania Rep. William F. Clinger Jr., Republican on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee; their 8/12/94 report found that Foster committed suicide.
4. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs issued both a majority Democratic and minority Republican report on 1/3/95; both reached the same conclusion that Foster committed suicide.
5. Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr finally a report on 10/10/97 after a seemingly unending three-year investigation, concluding that the death was a suicide. In response, Sheila Foster Anthony, Vince Foster’s sister, said she agreed with Starr’s findings but criticized his investigation for having taken so long, thus contributing to the existence of “ridiculous conspiracy theories proffered by those with a profit or political motive.”
Theories of a cover-up persisted, however, some of which were promulgated by Richard Mellon Scaife’s Arkansas Project. The speculation and conspiracy theories featured on talk radio and elsewhere continue to cause pain to the Foster family.
Years later, Bill Clinton expressed his continued anger about the Foster conspiracy theorists: “I heard a lot of the right-wing talk show people … and all the sleazy stuff they said. They didn’t give a rip that he had killed himself or that his family was miserable or that they could break the hearts [of Foster’s friends and family]. It was just another weapon to slug us with, to dehumanize us with.”
In May 2016, when asked in a Washington Post interview about the Foster case, Donald Trump raised doubts about the official version of events even while saying he does not plan to talk about it. He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.” “He [Foster] had intimate knowledge of what was going on. He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide. I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.” But – of course – in avowing that he doesn’t do it, he did it.
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CHRISTOPHER RUDDY and “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster”
In November 1994, Journalist Christopher Ruddy was hired by conservative millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to investigate full-time the death of Vincent Foster. In between his departure from the New York Post and joining the Tribune-Review, Ruddy put out a report through the Western Journalism Center criticizing the Fiske investigation (no. 2, above) as inadequate. With the help of Scaife, the Western Journalism Center took out full-page ads in major newspapers to promote the report (Scaife gave $330,000 to the Center in 1994–95 before ending his support).
Ruddy claimed that Park Police had staged the scene of Foster’s death as described in their reports. One of the officers named by Ruddy sued him along with the Western Journalism Center, seeking $2 million in damages for libel. The suit was dismissed because Ruddy had said nothing libelous “of and concerning the officer.”
In 1997 Ruddy published the book “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster.” The book claimed there was a conspiracy to murder Foster to keep him quiet, and Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation was part of the conspiracy, calling Starr a “patsy for the Clintonites and those that believe that the stability and reputation of America is more important than justice.” Even far-right conservative Ann Coulter dismissed Ruddy’s conspiracy book, calling it a “conservative hoax book” that was “discredited” by conservatives. Brandeis University professor Jacob Cohen wrote in William F. Buckley Jr.’s conservative National Review that the book was “conspiracy central.” A Slate review called the book “absurd.”
By 2007 Ruddy had changed his views on the Clintons. In a New York Times interview, he said: “Both of us [Ruddy and Scaife] have had a rethinking. Clinton wasn’t such a bad president. In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today.” Newsweek later reported that Ruddy praised Clinton for the Clinton Foundation’s global work, and explained that the interview was due to his and Scaife’s shared view that Clinton was doing important work representing the U.S. globally while America was the target of criticism.
In January 2010, Britain’s Daily Telegraph ranked Ruddy as one of the “100 Most Influential Conservatives” in the U.S., saying: “Chris Ruddy is an increasingly powerful and influential player in the conservative media and beyond.”
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RICHARD MELLON SCAIFE – Conservative and Publisher
Scaife was a scion of both the wealthy Scaife family of Pittsburgh, Pa, and the Mellon family (former U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, financier R.K. Mellon, Mellon Bank, Gulf Oil, Alcoa Aluminum). In 1972 his mother, Sarah Mellon Scaife, died, leaving much of the Mellon fortune to Richard.
In 1970, Scaife purchased the Tribune-Review. a small-market newspaper in Greensburg, Pa. He first made national headlines in 1973, during the Watergate era, for firing a reporter for commenting “one down and one to go” when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned over corruption charges dating from his governorship of Maryland. This action caused half the paper’s newsroom staff to resign. In 1992 he expanded into Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which he started during a battle between two large Pittsburgh newspapers. For the next twelve years, he supported the Tribune-Review losses of $20-30 million per year from his personal fortune, until the remaining Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went out of business and the Tribune-Review finances improved.
By then, the small Tribune-Review had become the chief packager of editorials and news columns claiming that then-President Bill Clinton and/or Hillary Clinton were responsible for the death of Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster. Scaife paid freelancer Christopher Ruddy to write about the Foster case for the Tribune-Review and other right-leaning media. Special Prosecutor Ken Starr concluded in October 1997 that Foster had committed suicide.
Richard Mellon Scaife later became part-owner with Christopher Ruddy in Newsmax. Ruddy had become impressed by the way that news of the Clinton impeachment circulated on the Internet. He launched Newsmax.com on 9/16/98 to capitalize on it, and served as chief columnist and editor-in-chief. He later launched the Newsmax monthly magazine. In January 1999, Newsweek cover story listed Ruddy as one of twenty “Stars of the New News.” By 2004 Scaife was reported to own 7.2% of Newsmax, and by 2009 owned 42%, with Ruddy, serving as both CEO and editor, owning the other 58%. Attacking the Clintons had turned into a multi-million-dollar industry.
Scaife contributed heavily to conservative causes including political action committees such as the Pro-Growth Action Team, the Free Congress PAC (formerly: Committee For the Survival Of a Free Congress), and the Club For Growth Inc. PAC. He also funded the Western Journalism Center, headed by Joseph Farah. He was named to the PoliticsPA list of “Pennsylvania’s Top Political Activists”.
When Scaife began giving primarily to anti-communist research groups, legal defense funds, and publications, the top recipient was the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Through contacts made at Hoover and elsewhere, he became an early and major supporter of The Heritage Foundation, which has since become one of Washington’s most influential conservative public policy research institutes. He served as vice-chairman of the Heritage Foundation board of trustees. Other conservative and libertarian organizations he supported were: American Enterprise Institute, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (promotes free-market solutions to environmental issues, denies anthropogenic global warming), Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives (Harrisburg-based libertarian think tank, Federalist Society, Foundation for Economic Education, Free Congress Foundation (headed by Jim Gilmore), Freedom House, GOPAC (headed by Newt Gingrich), Independent Women’s Forum, Intercollegiate Studies Institute (aka Collegiate Network), Judicial Watch, Landmark Legal Foundation, Media Research Center (headed by Brent Bozell), Pacific Legal Foundation, and Reason Foundation.
Scaife also endowed a new school of public policy at Pepperdine University. Whitewater Investigation Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was named the first dean of this school. Starr accepted the post in 1996 and planned to leave the Whitewater Investigation, but in the ensuing controversy, he gave up the appointment in 1998 before ever having started at Pepperdine. Pepperdine has denied any connection between Scaife and the selection of Starr. After the investigation, Starr was appointed to head Pepperdine’s law school in 2004, and later became president of Baylor University in 2010.
On February 8, 1999 former military intelligence specialist and progressive writer Steve Kangas was found dead in a 39th floor restroom less than 60 feet from Scaife’s office door in Pittsburgh. Kangas had been an outspoken critic of Scaife and believed that Scaife-funded initiatives posed a danger to the nation. Local police ruled it a suicide. Scaife died from cancer on 7/4/14 at his Pittsburgh home.
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THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR
Scaife became initially embroiled in the anti-Clinton campaign when, along with the conservative Bradley Foundation (see below) of Wisconsin, he began financial support of the conservative conspiracy-theory magazine, The American Spectator. The March 1992 issue of American Spectator contained David Brock’s smear of Anita Hill, who has famously accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual improprieties, including the ‘pubic hair on the Coke can’ incident. Brock and colleague Daniel Wattenberg then moved on to target Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their January 1994 article about then-President Bill Clinton’s sex life not only contained the first allegations that constituted Troopergate, but also contained the first reference in print to Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones. The story referred to Jones by only her first name, and their story corroborated few, if any, elements of her story. This article was the basis for Jones’ claim of damages and the sexual harassment lawsuit which started the chain of events resulting in President Clinton’s impeachment and trial in the Senate.
As recounted elsewhere, David Brock later recanted his accusations upon his departure from the conservative movement. He also denounced his Anita Hill article in his 2003 book Blinded by the Right: the Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. He implies that Rush Limbaugh’s coverage of his Anita Hill article instigated advertising on Limbaugh’s network, which resulted in a large increase in The American Spectator magazine circulation. He also implies that this caused the magazine’s content to move ‘away from thoughtful essays and scholarly reviews and humor pieces’ to ‘hit jobs.’
Internal strife eventually led to the departure of long-time publisher Ronald Burr after a disagreement with editor R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. led Burr to call for an independent audit of the magazine’s finances. The departure of Burr and several prominent conservative figures from the magazine’s board of directors resulted in conservative foundations and individuals such as Richard Mellon Scaife pulling much of their funding for the nonprofit, who had relied on it to pay high salaries to Brock and Tyrrell, as well as to fund direct-mail campaigns needed to keep up the monthly’s circulation. Faced with a budget crisis, the magazine, then led by publisher Terry Eastland, a former spokesman in the Reagan Justice Department, fired staffers and cut spending significantly. The magazine also struggled to pay legal bills incurred from an investigation launched against it by the Justice Department for alleged witness tampering in the Whitewater investigation. The Justice Department investigation led to revelations about the “Arkansas Project,” a campaign by Scaife to discredit the Clintons by funding investigative reporting at several conservative media outlets.
The Washington Post: How Scaife’s Money Powered a Movement
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THE ARKANSAS PROJECT
The Arkansas Project was a series of investigative press reports, funded primarily by conservative businessman Richard Mellon Scaife and the conservative Bradley Foundation of Wisconsin, that focused on criticism of then-President Bill Clinton and his administration. Scaife spent nearly $2 million on the project.
The investigations included the investigation of the 1970s’ real estate investment that Bill and Hillary Clinton had made in Whitewater Development Corp., the re-opening of allegations that then Governor Bill Clinton had sexually harassed an Arkansas state employee, and a reexamination of the death of White House aide Vincent Foster which multiple official investigations had already found to be a suicide.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the politically conservative American Spectator magazine received donations from conservative benefactors, including Richard Mellon Scaife and the Bradley Foundation. The Arkansas Project began shortly after Scaife, one of the largest donors to the magazine, directed that his donations be used for stories aimed at investigating potentially scandalous material regarding the Clintons. According to R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor-in-chief of the Spectator, the idea for the Arkansas Project was hatched on a fishing trip on the Chesapeake Bay in the fall of 1993. The “Arkansas Project” name that later became famous was conceived as a joke; the actual name used within the Spectator and the Scaife foundation was the “Editorial Improvement Project.”
Project reporter/investigators were hired, including David Brock, author of the initial “troopergate” story and who later (after reversing his political stance) described himself as a Republican “hitman”, and Rex Armistead, a former police officer who was reportedly paid $350,000 for his efforts. Also assisting the project was Parker Dozhier, a bait shop owner who was reportedly obsessed with bringing down Bill Clinton. They were tasked with investigating the Clintons and uncovering stories tying the Clintons to murders and drug smuggling as well as adultery.
According to Brock, Armistead and Brock met at an airport hotel in Miami, Florida, in late 1993. There, Armistead laid out an elaborate “Vince Foster murder scenario”, a scenario that Brock later claimed was implausible.” Regardless, by the end of 1993, Brock was writing stories for the Spectator that made him “a lead figure in the drive to” attack Clinton.
Ted Olson, who would later represent George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore and be named U.S. Solicitor General, was a Board Member of the American Spectator Educational Foundation, and is thought to have known about or played some role in the Arkansas Project. His firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher provided $14,000 worth of legal services, and he himself wrote or co-authored several articles that were paid for with Project funds. During Olson’s Senate confirmation hearing for Solicitor General, majority Republicans blocked Senator Patrick Leahy’s call for further committee inquiries on the subject of Olson’s ties to the Arkansas Project.
The investigations funded by Scaife money mostly concentrated on the Whitewater investment, which was extended to the conspiracy theory surrounding the suicide death of Vince Foster, Deputy White House Counsel. Christopher W. Ruddy, then a reporter for the Scaife’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, published a series of articles claiming Clinton was behind Foster’s suicide. Although Clinton was never found to have broken the law by Ken Starr, Ruddy published his book, The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, regardless. His conspiracy theories about Foster were dismissed even by outspoken conservatives like Ann Coulter who called it a “conservative hoax book”. The American Spectator stopped receiving funding from Scaife when “it ran a scathing review of [the] book …”
In late November 1997 after American Spectator published their review of Ruddy’s book, Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media (who has received about $2 million from Scaife since 1977) “reported in his newsletter that Scaife had called Tyrrell to say he was cutting him off.” In fact, “Tyrrell confirmed in an interview that the call occurred but said he couldn’t remember details of the conversation that ended all support from the man who had been his principal benefactor for nearly 30 years.”
In 1999, Joseph Farah’s Western Journalism Center (who had published Ruddy’s first articles on Vince Foster) “placed some 50 ads reprinting Ruddy’s Tribune-Review stories in the Washington Times, then repackaged the articles as a packet titled ‘The Ruddy Investigation,’ which sold for $12.” Shortly thereafter, the Western Journalism Center “circulated a video featuring Ruddy’s claims, ‘Unanswered – The Death of Vincent Foster,’ that was produced by author James Davidson, chairman of the National Taxpayers Union and co-editor of the Strategic Investment newsletter.”
In the late 1990s, Christopher Ruddy and Joseph Farah turned their focus to the internet with help from Scaife. Ruddy founded NewsMax and Farah started WorldNetDaily, a conservative conspiracy-theory website which still pounds the propaganda drum against the Clintons. On 5/18/15, for example, WorldNetDaily chose to keep the stewpot of lies and innuendo about the Clintons boiling and stirred by rehashing their old conspiracy-theory stories, this time putting the blame on Hillary Clinton.
As an early part of the Troopergate matter, writer David Brock published an article, His Cheating Heart that refers to a liaison between Bill Clinton and woman named Paula. This led to the Paula Jones affair and later led Jones to sue Clinton, successfully obtaining an out-of-court settlement in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Brock continued his conspiracy theorizing until a 1997 Esquire article titled “I Was a Conservative Hit Man” in which he recanted some of his claims. In 1998 he went further and personally apologized to Clinton. Brock was then fired from the Spectator and later published his 2002 book Blinded by the Right: the Conscience of an Ex-Conservative.
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In January 1994, David Brock’s article “His Cheatin’ Heart” appeared in American Spectator, the conservative conspiracy-theory magazine. Two named and two unnamed Arkansas State troopers claimed that on behalf of then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, they solicited women for his sexual liaisons, got motel rooms, helped him surreptitiously come and go, kept an eye on Hillary Clinton’s whereabouts, lied to Hillary about Bill, and later delivered gifts to the women. No investigation into these allegations ever took place and Bill Clinton was never charged with any wrongdoing. David Brock, later apologized to Clinton for this article, saying it was written not “…in the interest of good government or serious journalism,” but as part of an “anti-Clinton crusade.” In his 2002 book, Blinded by the Right, Brock claimed that in order to maintain journalistic integrity, he agreed to write the Troopergate article only if the four troopers whom he interviewed were not paid. In 1998, a conservative fundraiser admitted that he had paid, without Brock’s knowledge, $6,700 to each of the troopers after the articles were published.
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THE PAULA JONES CASE
Paula Jones (born 9/17/66) is a former Arkansas state employee who sued U.S. President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. The Paula Jones case precipitated Clinton’s impeachment on unrelated charges in the House of Representatives and the subsequent acquittal by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were brought against Clinton. Eventually, the court dismissed the Paula Jones harassment lawsuit, before trial, on the grounds that Jones failed to demonstrate any damages. However, while the dismissal was on appeal, Clinton entered into an out-of-court settlement by agreeing to pay Jones $850,000.
This case is a good example of what the right-wing propagandists learned: keep the heat on, keep stirring the pot, keep your target under a microscope, and eventually something will rise. No one can withstand intense and prolonged scrutiny without the inevitable self-conscious stumble.
According to Jones’s account of 5/8/91, she was escorted to Governor Clinton’s room in the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he propositioned and exposed himself to her. She claimed she kept quiet about the incident until 1994, when the David Brock story which initiated Troopergate was published in the American Spectator magazine, naming her only as “Paula.” Jones filed a sexual harassment suit against Clinton on 6/6/94, two days before the three-year statute of limitations expired, seeking $750,000 in damages.
Susan Carpenter-McMillan, a California conservative commentator, became Jones’ press spokesperson, and immediately took the issue to the press, calling Clinton “un-American”, a “liar”, and a “philanderer” on Meet the Press, Crossfire, Equal Time, Larry King Live, Today, The Geraldo Rivera Show, Burden of Proof, Hannity & Colmes, Talkback Live, and other shows.
Judge Susan Webber Wright granted President Clinton’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that Jones could not demonstrate that she had suffered any damages, and also dismissing the claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, ruling that Jones failed to show that Clinton’s actions constituted “outrageous conduct” as required of the tort, alongside not showing proof of damages caused by distress. Jones appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where, at oral argument, two of the three judges on the panel appeared sympathetic to her arguments.
Clinton and his defense team then challenged Jones’ right to bring a civil lawsuit against a sitting president for an incident that occurred prior to the defendant becoming president. The Clinton defense team took the position that the trial should be delayed until the president was no longer in office, because the job of the president is unique and does not allow him to take time away from it to deal with a private civil lawsuit. The case went through the courts, eventually reaching the Supreme Court on 1/13/97. On 5/27/97, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Clinton, and allowed the lawsuit to proceed. Clinton dismissed Jones’s story and agreed to move on with the lawsuit.
On 8/29/97, Jones’ attorneys Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata asked to resign from the case, believing the settlement offer they had secured, which Jones refused, was the appropriate way to end the case. In September, Judge Wright accepted their request.
Jones was then represented by the Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal organization, and by a Dallas law firm. Carpenter-McMillan continued to serve as Jones’ spokesperson. In December 1997, Jones reduced the damages sought in her suit against Clinton to $525,000 and agreed to remove Clinton’s co-defendant and former bodyguard, Danny Ferguson, from the suit.
On 4/2/98, before the case could reach trial, Judge Wright granted President Clinton’s motion for dismissal, ruling that Jones could not show that she had suffered any damages. Jones appealed the dismissal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
On 11/13/98, Bill Clinton settled with Jones for $850,000, the entire amount of her claim, but without an apology, in exchange for her agreement to drop the appeal. Robert S. Bennett, Clinton’s attorney, still maintained that Jones’s claim was baseless and that Clinton only settled so he could end the lawsuit and move on with his life. In March 1999, Judge Wright ruled that Jones would only get $200,000 from the settlement and that the rest of the money would pay for her legal expenses.
In April 1999, Judge Wright found Clinton in civil contempt of court for misleading testimony in the Jones case. She ordered Clinton to pay $1,202 to the court and an additional $90,000 to Jones’s lawyers for expenses incurred, far less than the $496,000 that the lawyers originally requested.
Wright then referred Clinton’s conduct to the Arkansas Bar Association for disciplinary action, and on 1/19/01, the day before Clinton left the office of president, he entered into an agreement with the Arkansas Bar and Independent Counsel Robert Ray under which Clinton was stripped of his license to practice law in Arkansas for a period of five years. His fine was paid from a fund raised to pay for his legal expenses.
In December 1994, Penthouse Magazine published semi-nude photographs of Paula Jones taken by a boyfriend. A temporary restraining order had been placed on the publication, but was lifted two days later. Jones later posed for Penthouse for their December 2000 article, “The Perils of Paula Jones;” citing the pressures of a large tax bill and two young sons to support.
Monica Lewinsky became involved when Jones’s lawyers decided to show to the court a pattern of behavior by Clinton that involved his allegedly repeatedly becoming sexually involved with state or government employees. They subpoenaed women they suspected Clinton might have had affairs with, one of whom was Monica Lewinsky. In his deposition for the Jones lawsuit, Clinton denied having “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky. Based on testimony provided by Linda Tripp, which identified the existence of a blue dress with Clinton’s semen on it, Kenneth Starr concluded that Clinton’s sworn testimony was false and perjurious.
During the deposition in the Jones case, Clinton was asked, “Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1, as modified by the Court?” The judge ordered that Clinton be given an opportunity to review the definition. It said that “a person engages in sexual relations when the person knowingly engages in or causes contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person”. Clinton flatly denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky. Later, at the Starr Grand Jury, Clinton stated that he believed the definition of sexual relations agreed upon for the Jones deposition excluded his receiving oral sex, which did not involve any of the bodily locations listed in the definition. It was upon the basis of this statement that the perjury charges in his impeachment were drawn up. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on 12/19/98, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Despite their control of the Senate, Republicans were unable to muster the required two-thirds supermajority to convict or even a simple majority, with 50 Senators voting guilty on the obstruction charge and 45 senators voting guilty on the perjury charge.
In February 2016, Jones endorsed Donald Trump for the United States presidential election, 2016. That same week, she attended a rally for Trump held in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she asked for a selfie with him. In October 2016, Jones joined Donald Trump for a press conference before the second 2016 Presidential Debate to air grievances against Hillary and Bill Clinton. The conference also included Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Kathy Shelton.
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THE CLINTON BODY COUNT
This completely phony conspiracy theory holds that Bill Clinton, while he was president and before, was quietly assassinating his associates. The story began in retaliation to the Bush Body Count Conspiracy Theory. (This theory claimed that various Bush family members were responsible for nefarious events including the JFK assassination and the “1980 October Surprise,” which held that the Iranians had made a deal with Ronald Reagan’ election team in 1980, wherein they would hang onto the American hostages until after Reagan was inaugurated in exchange for later benefits, such as the weapons sold to them in the “Iran-Contra scandal” of the Reagan administration.)
The body count list originated with “The Clinton Body Count: Coincidence or the Kiss of Death?” a list of 34 suicides, accidental deaths, and unsolved murders, prepared in 1993 by Linda Thompson on behalf of her pro-second amendment group, American Justice Federation. This list was given to Orange County, Ca. conservative congressman William Dannemeyer who presented it in a letter to congressional leaders in 1994. Dannemeyer’s conservative credentials range from anti-evolution, anti-gay, anti-separation of church and state, pro-Lyndon LaRouche, to satanic cults and international Zionist conspiracies. In 2001 he was arrested for masturbating in a public bathroom but charges were dropped due to violation of his right to privacy. Linda Thompson went on to promote conspiracy theories about the Waco Branch Davidians, Black Helicopters, FEMA prison camps, and promoted herself as “Acting Adjutant General” of the “Unorganized Militia of the United States.”
The body count list was later expanded. Snope.com addresses and debunks forty-eight listed names. Some on the list had nothing in common with Clinton other than working in Washington, DC. while Clinton was there. In 1998 David Bresnahan, former reporter for WorldNewDaily (conservative conspiracy theory-promoting website), published his book about the list, “Cover Up: The Art and Science of Political Deception.” On the book’s Amazon.com listing there are no publisher’s description, reviews or comments.
In 1999 Linda Tripp, while giving a two-day deposition with attorneys from Judicial Watch on Filegate issues, she mentioned a “list” that was given to her mysteriously. The list originated with Bresnahan, and is believed to have been left at Tripp’s workstation by Monica Lewinsky. The same list was also given to the FBI and Whitewater investigator Kenneth Starr. The obvious question is: If the Clintons were murdering people left and right, as the list claims, how did Trip and Lewinsky escape being targeted when their actions were far more harmful to Bill Clinton than anyone actually on the list?
Snopes.com labels the rumor FALSE, arguing: many of the deaths have detailed recorded explanations; labeling every accidental death as mysterious or suspicious is just “word games;” that every political leader has a large, loosely defined circle of associates; such acquaintances will recognize the leader’s name far more often than the leader will recognize theirs.
As with your typical braindead zombie, the absurd body count conspiracy theory won’t stay dead. Witness this Youtube web posting 8/5/16: “Clinton Body Count +5 in Just 6 Weeks” – “Hillary will stop at nothing to claw her way into the White House; unfortunately, people are dropping dead left and right in her path and, in the case of the last two found dead earlier this week, the mainstream media is pretending not to even notice they are gone…”
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THE CLINTON CHRONICLES
The Clinton Chronicles: An Investigation into the Alleged Criminal Activities of Bill Clinton is a 1994 video film which accused Bill Clinton of a range of crimes, and like the “body count” is a completely phony concoction of lies and innuendo. The Washington Post called it a “bizarre and unsubstantiated documentary.” The New York Times called it a poorly documented “hodgepodge of sometimes-crazed charges,” which served to perpetuate a conspiracy theory known as the “Clinton Body Count,” a list of associates Clinton was purported to have had killed. The deaths listed in the film have been discredited by Snopes.com due to deliberate bias, weak circumstantial evidence, and coincidence.
Directed by Patrick Matrisciana, the film was produced by Citizens for Honest Government, a project of a Westminster, California organization named Creative Ministries Inc., partially funded by Larry Nichols, a long-time Clinton opponent, and distributed with help from the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who also appears in the film. Over 300,000 copies of the film were put into circulation with perhaps half that being sales.
To promote the film, Falwell aired an interview with Matrisciana, who was silhouetted to conceal his identity as he pretended to be a journalist who was afraid for his life. Matrisciana later acknowledged that he was not in any danger, but that the interview was staged for dramatic effect at Falwell’s suggestion.
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THE KATHLEEN WILLEY CASE
Kathleen Willey (born 6/2/46) is a former White House volunteer aide who, on 6/15/98, alleged on 60 Minutes that Bill Clinton had sexually assaulted her on 11/29/93. She had been subpoenaed to testify in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Monica Lewinsky testified that Clinton stated to her that the allegation was absurd because Willey is a small-breasted woman and he would never pursue such a woman. No proof ever appeared. Willey appears t0 have been a publicity-seeker who was miffed by Clinton’s lack of interest in her and decided to retaliate.
In her grand jury testimony, Linda Tripp stated that she felt Willey pursued a romance with Bill Clinton from the start of her White House affiliation. Willey had speculated with Tripp as to how she might be able to set up an assignation between herself and the president. She routinely attended events at which Clinton would be present, wearing a black dress she believed he liked. According to Tripp’s testimony, Willey wondered if she and Clinton could arrange to meet in a Chesapeake Bay home to which she had access. Tripp stated that Willey appeared excited about the alleged assault.
The Final Report of the U.S. Office of the Independent Counsel report noted that “Willey and President Clinton are the only direct witnesses to their meeting, and their accounts differ substantially on the crucial facts of what occurred.” It also stated “Willey gave false information to the FBI about her sexual relationship with a former boyfriend, and acknowledged having lied about it when the agents confronted her with contradictory evidence.” There were also some differences between her Paula Jones and Grand Jury testimony, although, in both she stated she had been harassed. Following Willey’s acknowledgment of her lies about her boyfriend, “the Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute Willey for any offense arising out of the investigation, including false statements in her Jones deposition, so long as she cooperated fully and truthfully with the investigation.” According to Independent Counsel Robert Ray’s (who replaced Kenneth Starr) report, “Willey’s Paula Jones deposition testimony differed from her grand jury testimony on material aspects of the alleged incident.” In short, there was insufficient evidence to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that President Clinton’s testimony regarding Kathleen Willey was false. Accordingly, the Independent Counsel declined prosecution.
Willey has a history of controversial claims including telling her boyfriend she was pregnant and she had a miscarriage when she did not. On the evening of 3/19/98, Julie Hiatt Steele, a friend of Willey, released an affidavit, accusing the former White House aide of asking her to lie to corroborate Ms. Willey’s account of being sexually groped by President Clinton in the Oval Office. An attempt by Kenneth Starr to prosecute Steele for making false statements and obstructing justice ended in a mistrial and Starr declined to seek a retrial after Steele sought an investigation against the former Independent Counsel for prosecutorial misconduct.
In March 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that President Clinton had “committed a criminal violation” of the Privacy Act by releasing letters from Willey to the President that were written even after the alleged incident. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals later criticized this ruling, though Willey subsequently filed suit against the White House over this issue.
In July 2015, Willey launched “A Scandal A Day,” an anti-Clinton website set up by an Arizona-based private detective company Maverick Investigations, owned by Tom Watson. In January 2016 Willey was interviewed by Larry King about the alleged incident.
In October 2016, Willey joined Donald Trump for a press conference before the second 2016 Presidential Debate to air grievances against Hillary and Bill Clinton. The conference also included Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathy Shelton. She was paid $2,500 for the appearance by a Political Action Committee headed by Roger Stone.
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Born in Australia in 1931, Rupert Murdoch initiated his own privately-held News Limited in 1952. During the 1950’s and 1960’s he acquired a number of newspapers in Australia and New Zealand. Moving on to the United Kingdom in 1969, he took over News of the World and The Sun. In 1974 he moved to New York City to began expanding into the U.S. market, while retaining his earlier holdings. In 1981 he purchased The Times (British). In order to qualify for U.S. television station ownership he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985, and and also purchased Twentieth Century Fox. Later major acquisitions were: Harper Collins (book publishing – 1989), BSkyB (British broadcasting – 1990), The Wall Street Journal (2007). By 2000, his News Corporation owned over 800 companies in over 50 countries, worth over $5 billion. [Source Link]
Many newspapers he created specialize in lowest-common-denominator news: celebrity gossip, crime and murder, sex, lurid stories and photos, with the overall effect of being a form of modern-day “yellow journalism.” Photos of topless women became a “page 2” specialty. Many papers – not all – he acquired were quickly brought down to this level.
In Britain, investigations began in 2005 into the hacking of telephones of various public and private citizens as well as British Royalty, performed by News International, News of the World and other Murdoch papers. News of the World was closed in 2011 due to these revelations; the paper apologized to many victims, and Murdoch personally apologized to the parents of a murdered schoolgirl whose phone they had hacked.
In February 1996, just after Roger Ailes left America’s Talking (which later became MSNBC) Murdoch asked him to start a news channel for him. Fox News began in October, 1996. It quickly became one of the leading voices – perhaps the leading voice – of the American conservative movement. [Link]
From the beginning, Fox News established itself as the TV news equivalent of Murdoch’s yellow journalism newspapers, with a very strong far-right-wing slant to all their reporting, much of which they admitted – at one time or another and by various personnel – was really “news entertainment,” not real news reporting in the manner America was accustomed to, of which anchorman Walter Cronkite was emblematic. Rather, they specialized in rumor-mongering, innuendo, near-slander, with a brisk “Hey, I’m just saying” attitude, and branded by the motto, “We Report, You Decide.” This motto excused their lack of journalistic investigation and supporting facts. Anything which promoted Murdoch’s and Ailes right-wing agenda was grist for the “We Report” mill. The public was left to decide if any of it was true. Unfortunately, much of conservative America adapted to the Fox News style, and began to believe that biased assertions without support was equivalent to journalism.
Fox News quickly became the leading propaganda outlet for the political right-wing of America. They coordinated closely with the hired political consultants for numerous political candidates, and for years channeled the direct propaganda commands issued regularly by Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s political consultant, the so-called “Bush’s Brain.”
Many volumes could be written on Fox News’ propaganda activities. We cannot do this subject justice.
For recent events concerning the connection of Fox News to propaganda and to the Russian government, read this 7/20/17 article on the Patribotics blogsite: Fox News Under FBI Counterintelligence Investigation
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THE BENGHAZI CONSULATE ATTACK
On September 11, 2012, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked. It took days to sort out who died, who the attackers were and the reason for the attack. It was initially thought that riots in Egypt about an anti-Muslim video may have triggered the attack, and Hillary Clinton stated, “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” It was later determined to be a terrorist attack unconnected to the Egyptian riots, although the attack’s actual timing might have been adjusted to appear connected to the riots. Later controversy arose because families of the dead Americans mis-heard explanations or were given differing and confusing wordings. Some listeners thought (at that time) that what might be related to the video actually was triggered by the video. Other family members disagreed. Additional controversy arose concerning the inadequate security personnel at the consulate, part of the State Dep. system-wide understaffing caused by congressional budget-cutting. After the final eleven-hour marathon investigation session on Oct. 22, 2015, Hillary Clinton said: “There have been seven investigations (of Benghazi) led mostly by Republicans in the Congress” that concluded “nobody did anything wrong, but there were changes we could make.” Politifact characterizes this assessment as “rosy,” but also largely accurate, and rates her claim as Mostly True.
Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Sean Hannity on 9/29/15: What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker [himself] that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy (in place) to fight and win….And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.” McCarthy’s inadvertent admission gave the world a peak at the anti-Clinton propaganda campaign forever churning behind the scenes.
Two weeks later at the first Democratic debate on 10/13/15, Clinton slammed Republicans, told the audience that the committee is “basically an arm of the Republican National Committee…..It is a partisan vehicle, as admitted by the House Republican majority leader, Mr. McCarthy, to drive down my poll numbers. Big surprise. And that’s what they have attempted to do,” Clinton said, adding later, “But I’ll be there. I’ll answer their questions.”
The following day on New York’s’ WIBX 950, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-New York agreed with Hillary. “This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton, After what Kevin McCarthy said, it’s difficult to accept at least a part of it was not. I think that’s the way Washington works. But you’d like to expect more from a committee that’s spent millions of dollars and tons of time.”
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September 11, 2012 – The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked. People died. It took some time to determine with any certainty who died, who the attackers were, and the cause for the attack. At 10:32 PM, Hillary Clinton released a statement confirming one death and saying, “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” At 11:12 PM she confirmed in an email to her daughter that two people had died.
September 12, 2012 – Clinton confirmed that four had died. Her statement made no mention of the anti-Muslim video; her speech to the State Dept. did mention it in terms similar to the previous night; “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior…” Neither mentioned a terrorist attack. Her chief of staff emailed privately that “…we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’” She told the Egyptian prime minister that the inflammatory video had nothing to do with the Benghazi attacks.
September 13, 2012 – Clinton meets with Libyan ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali, who apologizes to Clinton for what he called “…this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” Clinton’s remarks do not refer to it as a terrorist attack, and condemn the anti-Muslim video but do not blame it as the cause. A State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, when asked if the Benghazi attack was “purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants,” declines to say, reiterating that the administration did not want to “jump to conclusions.” Speaking to the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Clinton again condemns what she calls the anti-Muslim video and the [Egyptian] violence that it triggered. CNN reports on statements from unnamed “State Department officials.” “It was not an innocent mob,” one senior official said. “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”
September 14, 2012 – White House press secretary Carney denied reports that the assault on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi was a preplanned attack. Clinton, accepting the remains of the dead at Andrews Air Force Base, does not mention the video nor calls the assault a terrorist attack, although she quoted the president of the Palestinian Authority who called it an “an act of ugly terror.” State Department public information official writes in an email: “[I]t is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence. It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well-planned attack by militant extremists.” State Department spokeswoman Nuland defers all questions to the FBI: “It is now something that you need to talk to the FBI about, not to us about, because it’s their investigation.”
September 16, 2012 – Then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, tells CBS News: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.” She says it began “spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo,” and “extremist elements” joined in the protest. Rice’s talking points had been written by the CIA, and said, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” and “[I]nitial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia.” The State Dept. later removed references to al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia. All drafts of the talking points did say the attack began “spontaneously” in response to the Cairo protest.
September 17, 2012 – State Dept. spokeswoman Nuland, adds on “Face the Nation” and four other Sunday talk shows, “The comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.” Nuland uses the phrase “initial assessment” three times when discussing Rice’s comments.
September 18, 2012 – President Obama says the Benghazi attackers used the video “as an excuse.” Elsewhere, Clinton is asked if the Libyan president is “wrong” that “this attack was planned for months.” She says, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” This can be interpreted as meaning that our intelligence services still had no evidence to support a statement that “this attack was planned for months.” She does not say if the Libyan president is right or wrong.
September 19, 2012 – Matt Olsen, director of the U.S. Government’s National Counterterrorism Center, refers to the Benghazi attack as a “terrorist attack.”
September 21, 2012 – Clinton, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, calls it a “terrorist attack” for the first time. She says, “Yesterday afternoon when I briefed the Congress, I made it clear that keeping our people everywhere in the world safe is our top priority. What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”
October 15, 2012 – Clinton, in an interview on CNN, blames the “fog of war” when asked why the administration initially claimed the attack began with the anti-Muslim video, even though the State Department never reached that conclusion. “In the wake of an attack like this in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion, and I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence,” Clinton says. “Everyone who spoke tried to give the information they had. As time has gone on, the information has changed, we’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
Some people have made much of the Secretary of State’s legal responsibility for the safety of each foreign station, blaming her personally for security under-staffing and housing personnel at multiple locations. The Secretary of State heads a Dept. of 70,000 employees. Delegation and specialization of duties is necessary and inevitable. Benghazi personnel requests had been passed up, no one knows how far, the State Dept. chain of command. It is possible the the intelligence services were not aware of the increasing level of danger in Libya, and thus did not advise the State Dept. to increase security. The GOP-ruled House had cut $270 million from the State Dept budget, necessitating personnel cuts and the denial to fill personnel requests throughout the system.
Some family members of the murdered personnel said that Hillary Clinton and others lied to them about the cause of the attack when the remains were received at Andrews Air Force Base. Two days after the attack, the cause was not yet clearly known, and Clinton was still saying “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior…” No one lied. They simply did not yet know for certain. It is common to mentally shorten the statement “Some claim that X is true…” into “X is true.” People mis-hear, misunderstand, and mis-remember, especially when emotionally distraught.
September 16, 2013 – The first investigation, that of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released their interim report, which raised questions about the independence and integrity of the Accountability Review Board (appointed by Hillary Clinton to investigate the State Dept.) and criticized the conclusions in the board’s final report.
December 31, 2012 – The second investigation , performed by the Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs released their report before the first investigation. The bipartisan committee report detailed the “high risk” of a terrorist attack at the U.S. facilities in Libya. The report criticized the State Department for not addressing the security concerns leading up to the attack, but also found “administration officials were inconsistent in stating publicly that the deaths in Benghazi were the result of a terrorist attack.” The report attributed the State Department’s security failures to intelligence problems and a failure “to imagine the type of attack that occurred.”
January 15, 2014 – The third investigation, that of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released a bipartisan report calling the Benghazi attacks “preventable.” Among other findings, the committee concluded the State Department had received ample warning about deteriorating security in Libya and failed to adequately increase security in the weeks leading up to the attack. The report also faulted intelligence officials for not relaying information on the CIA annex to the U.S. military.
February 7, 2014 – Investigation number four, by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, releases their report. Clinton had testified before this commit on 1/23/13, more than a year earlier. Their report criticized Clinton and other high-ranking officials who they said were “provided extensive warning of the deteriorating security environment in eastern Libya.” The report also criticized the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, which “was seriously deficient in several respects,” especially in its failure to comment on the actions of the department’s highest ranking officials, including Clinton.
April 24, 2013 – Investigation number five by the House Committee on the Judiciary was relative swift in their investigation. The focus was the FBI investigation that followed the terrorist attack. The committee released its findings as part of an interim progress report in conjunction with the five other Republican-led committees investigating Benghazi. The report detailed how the FBI did not investigate the scene until three weeks after the attack and spent less than one day collecting evidence in Benghazi. The committee also faulted Clinton for reducing security at the Benghazi consulate, despite her testimony that she “had no knowledge” of security requests from the compound.
February 11, 2014 – The sixth investigation, that of the House Committee on Armed Services began its investigation “immediately after the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya… to evaluate the response of the Department of Defense” to the attack. The Republican-led committee report the Obama administration’s failure to address security threats in Benghazi, asserting that the military was unprepared for possible violence in Libya.
November 21, 2014 – Investigation number seven by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its report exonerating the Obama administration of wrongdoing in its response to the attack. The report found evidence of contradicting intelligence among government officials and concluded officials did not intentionally mislead the public with information in the days following the attack.
May 8, 2015 – The eighth investigation, that of the House Select Committee on Benghazi headed by Trey Gowdy R-SC, began in May 2014 and one year later, released its interim progress report. Among their “accomplishments” they have amassed 20,000 pages of emails and documents and “…interviewed eyewitnesses never before interviewed,” spending $2.5 million in the process.
“What have we accomplished?” asked Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi committee, in a statement. “After a full year, it now seems obvious that this investigation is being dragged out in order to attack Secretary Clinton and her campaign for president — squandering millions of taxpayer dollars in the process—while Republicans use this tragedy to raise campaign funds,”
September 29, 2015 – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
McCarthy: [Speaking of his House leadership and votes on Executive Amnesty] “The question I think you really want to ask me is, how am I going to be different?”
Hannity: “I love how you asked my questions. But go ahead, that is one of my questions. Go right ahead.”
McCarthy: “I knew you’d want to ask it. What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker [himself] that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy (in place) to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”
October 14, 2015 – Rep. Richard Hanna, R-NY, and not a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, speaks on New York’s’ WIBX 950 radio.
Hanna: Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth. This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton. After what Kevin McCarthy said, it’s difficult to accept at least a part of it was not. I think that’s the way Washington works. But you’d like to expect more from a committee that’s spent millions of dollars and tons of time.
October 22, 2015 – Hillary Clinton weathers the last session of the committee, speaking for eleven hours.
June 28, 2016 – The House Select Committee on Benghazi finally issues its Final Benghazi Report, 800 pages long. The report reiterated the House Republican’s belief that the State Department failed to protect the consulate in Benghazi. It said that the CIA missed the looming threat despite warnings and wrote faulty intelligence reports after the attack. The committee staff said their findings indicate that the Defense Department did not meet its response times to deploy military assets to Benghazi and follow-up to ensure Americans were rescued in a timely fashion. The report added some details about a U.S. teleconference convened by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough during the attack, saying that some participants on the videoconference were unsure about what each agency was doing to rescue Americans. State Department officials on the call also brought up concerns about whether Marines who might have been deployed to Benghazi were wearing uniforms. One commander told the committee he and his men over the course of three hours kept having to change from uniforms to civilian clothes.
The New York Times in its article on 6/28/16 Fact Checking the House Benghazi Committee’s Findings, takes that report to task. On the criticism of the Defense Department: It is unclear what U.S. Military Forces might have made any difference. Changing Uniforms: This reflects only indecisiveness about whether American forces should arrive identifiable as United States military personnel or be less noticeable in civilian clothes. White House meeting: Everyone who needed to be there was there. On the State Dept. denial of personnel requests: They remained committed to a security strategy to keep the American security force small and increasingly rely on trained Libyan personnel to protect American diplomats. That strategy, set a year earlier after the fall of Col. Qaddafi’s government, failed. However, the report also noted that, ““Some of the very individuals the United States had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution were the only Libyans that came to the assistance of the United States on the night of the Benghazi attack.” So, contrary to the NY Times comment, relying on the Libyans actually worked reasonably well. On intelligence agencies: They should have known that danger was growing and done something about it. On Hillary Clinton: They found no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Hillary Clinton commented after a Denver campaign stop, that the investigation had uncovered nothing to contradict past findings, and that the House committee’s work had assumed a “partisan tinge.” “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report,” she said, “but I think it’s pretty clear it’s time to move on.”
The committee made scant mention of fundamental changes in the way American embassies and consulates operate put in place since the Benghazi attacks. Some diplomats complain that the additional security makes it difficult for them to carry out their responsibilities. The Defense Department has increased the number of Marine guards at diplomatic posts and created new crisis-response teams.
Democrats on the committee complained that they had been excluded from decisions on the report, and noted that the Benghazi investigation had dragged on longer than the inquiries into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; the attack on Pearl Harbor; and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
June 28, 2016 – The Committee shuts down after 28 months of investigation at a cost of more than $7 million. They discovered nothing new of significance, but they kept the pot boiling and stirred for almost four years.
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FOR COMPARISON: LEBANON BOMBINGS DURING THE REAGAN ERA, 1983-84
On April 18, 1983, at one in the afternoon, a delivery van entered the American Embassy compound in Beirut, Lebanon and parked under the front portico. One ton of explosives were ignited, collapsing the entire front of the building. All West Beirut heard the explosion; windows were shattered up to a mile away. 63 people died: 32 Lebanese employees, 17 Americans, 14 visitors and passersby. Dead Americans included: 8 CIA employees; 4 U.S. military personnel; William McIntyre, deputy director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and two of his aides. Around 120 additional people were wounded.
On October 23, 1983, around dawn, the U.S. Marine compound near the Beirut Airport was bombed. A truck carrying the equivalent of 10 ½ tons of TNT drove down the access road, circled the parking lot, accelerated and crashed through the five-foot-high barrier of concertina wire, passed between two sentry posts, through the open vehicle gate in the perimeter chain-link fence, and crashed through a guard shack and smashed into the lobby of the barracks for the 1st Battalion 8th Marines.
“The force of the explosion initially lifted the entire four-story structure, shearing the bases of the concrete support columns, each measuring fifteen feet in circumference and reinforced by numerous one-and-three-quarter-inch steel rods. The airborne building then fell in upon itself. A massive shock wave and ball of flaming gas was hurled in all directions.” Eric Hammel in The Root: The Marines in Beirut, August 1982-February 1984
241 Marines were killed immediately by the explosion or crushed by the collapsing building. A group calling itself ‘Islamic Jihad’ claimed responsibility. In May, 2003, a U.S. Federal Court ruled that the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out the attack at the direction of the Iranian government.
The U.S. military command, which regarded the Marines’ presence as a non-combative, “peace-keeping mission,” had left the vehicle gate wide open. Orders for sentries were to keep a loaded magazine in their weapon, bolt closed, weapon on safe, no round in the chamber. Only one sentry, LCpl Eddie DiFranco, was able to chamber a round; by then the truck was already crashing into the building’s lobby.
On March 16, 1984, William Francis Buckley, C.I.A. station chief in Beirut, was kidnapped by Hezbollah from his apartment building when he was leaving for work. He had been warned by Army Major General Carl Stiner that he was in danger. Buckley told him that “I have a pretty good intelligence network. I think I’m secure.” He continued to live in his apartment and travel the same route to and from work every day. Hezbollah tortured and then murdered Buckley. President Reagan, who was tormented by a tape of Buckley being tortured, blamed himself. Congress held no public hearings, and pointed fingers at the perpetrators, not at political rivals.
On September 20, 1984, the Shi’a Islamic militant group Hezbollah, under the name of ‘Islamic Jihad Organization’, with support and direction from the Islamic Republic of Iran, carried out a suicide car bombing targeting the U.S. embassy annex in East Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion “ripped off the front of the embassy, shredding glass, bending steel bars and destroying cars in a nearby parking lot.” The attack killed 24 people: 22 Lebanese and 2 Americans. President Reagan acknowledged that the new security precautions that had been advocated by Congress hadn’t yet been implemented at the U.S. embassy annex that had been hit. The problem, the President admitted, was that the repairs hadn’t quite been completed on time. As he put it, “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”
Reporter Jane Mayer, in her May 5, 2014 article “Ronald Reagan’s Behghazi” for The New Yorker, commented, “Imagine how Congressman Issa and Fox News would react to a similar explanation from President Obama today.”
Those were different – and saner – times. Although the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, they did not feel these tragedies necessitated lengthy and repeated investigations determined to hold the president, or Chiefs of Staff, or Secretary of State responsible. No one called for the impeachment of President Ronald Reagan, as Republican Congressmen later did with President Obama. No members of the cabinet were subpoenaed. No one called for the dismissal or incarceration of Secretary of State George Shultz. The Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, demanded and got a real investigation into the barracks bombing. Political hatchet-jobs did not happen; innuendo did not flow like sewage. A House Select Committee on Intelligence undertook a serious investigation into what went wrong at the barracks in Beirut. It completed its report in two months; it did not drag it out for four years as did the Republican congressional committees with the Benghazi investigations. The report found that “very serious errors in judgment” by officers on the ground and up through the chain of command had left the marines vulnerable to attack. It called for better security measures against terrorism in U.S. government installations throughout the world.
Congress made no investigation into the embassy bombing. Instead, on April 19, 1983, one day after the bombing, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to approve $251 million in additional economic and military aid for Lebanon, as requested by the administration. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee followed suit April 20. Both House and Senate attached amendments limiting any increase of U.S. military presence in Lebanon.
That was it. Congress and the president supported one another and put the security of the nation first. Attempts at political grand-standing quickly suffocated for lack of support. Over 320 people died, and the longest it took for the dust to settle on any of these four tragedies was two months. It was warfare; stuff happens. You deal with it and you move on.
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HILLARY CLINTON’S PRIVATE EMAIL SERVER
Hillary Clinton skirted state department rules by maintaining her own personal email server in her home. This was discovered when the House Select Committee on Benghazi requested emails and the department didn’t have them. Of the over 30,000 emails from her server examined, 113 contained classified information, and only 3 (.01% of the total) of those had classification markers. 2,000 additional emails were retroactively marked classified, and were not improperly handled. Her system was never hacked by anyone, unlike the huge and purportedly well-defended State Dept. information systems, now known to have been hacked by the Russians. One can argue that decentralizing the storage of email, as Hillary Clinton did, actually increases its security, because a small server is less likely to be targeted and hacked than a large desirable target like the State Dept servers. It is this absurd “crime” – making the storage of her email more secure – about which Donald Trump spewed defamation and innuendo: “Hillary Clinton is the embodiment of corruption. She’s a corrupt person. What she’s done with her e-mails, what she’s done with so many things.” It is for this that the GOP conventioneers chanted, “Lock her up,” an emotional slogan with no intelligent content whatsoever. This is the method of the anti-Clinton propaganda clique. Avoid intelligence, stimulate fear and anger.
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DETAILS ON EMAIL SERVER
Instead of using the State Department email system (with an email address ending in @state.gov), while secretary of state 2009-2013, Hillary Clinton used a personal email address (@clintonemail.com) housed on private servers located in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home.
Because she didn’t use the government system, the department didn’t have her emails on hand when the House Select Committee on Benghazi asked to see them. So in 2014, Clinton’s lawyers combed through the private server and turned over about 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department and deleted the rest, which Clinton said were about personal matters.
Clinton has said she used the email setup for convenience, so she would only have to use one device for email. But there’s some evidence Clinton did it for privacy reasons as well. She said in 2010 that she would be open to a departmental email but added, “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” Considering the historical tendencies of their detractors to comb through the Clinton’s underwear drawers and trash cans, it’s reasonable for Hillary to want to keep her private email…private.
Of the tens of thousands of emails investigators reviewed, 113 contained classified information, and only three (0.01%) of which had classification markers. FBI Director James Comey has said Clinton should have known that some of the 113 were classified, but others she might have understandably missed. Neither Comey nor anyone else in any of our intelligence, State or law enforcement branches have reported whether they have checked their own email systems to see if they have performed as well as did Clinton.
Comey said the Justice Department shouldn’t prosecute Clinton because there isn’t enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information. FBI investigators didn’t find vast quantities of exposed classified material; neither did they turn up any evidence that Clinton intended to be disloyal to the United States or that she intended to obstruct justice. However, he called Clinton’s email setup “extremely careless.”
Clinton frequently dealt with sensitive and classified information as secretary of state, and the amount that the FBI found in her email server is miniscule in comparison. It appears that she was near-perfect in dealing with classified information in an appropriate way.
To electronically transmit classified information, State Department employees must use a specific closed system, not their usual @state.gov email addresses. Clinton has said she viewed classified information in hard copy in her office, and she used other secure channels when traveling. Some emails now made public actually show Clinton’s team discussing how they couldn’t email each other classified information over the private server and instead had to move the conversation to a more appropriate venue.
There are legitimate problems with the government classification process. For example, transparency experts say the government regularly over-classifies, such as classifying information that wouldn’t actually damage national security if released. And the State Department and the intelligence community regularly disagree over whether information should be classified, including about some Clinton emails.
The FBI also determined that about 2,000 of Clinton’s emails contained information that was retroactively classified, meaning the information is classified now but not when the emails were originally sent — so these emails were not mishandled.
The State Department’s policy as of 2005 is that all day-to-day operations are to be conducted on the official State Department information channel, which Clinton never used. She was also obligated to discuss her setup with several internal offices and demonstrate that it was properly secure, yet she did not. Some of those officers told the State Department Inspector General that they never would have allowed the private email setup had she asked.
There’s no evidence that anyone successfully hacked Clinton’s email servers, although they were not impervious to attack. It’s conceivable that a sophisticated hacker gained access but left no trace.
Comey said the private servers did not have full-time security staff, which are found at government agencies and commercial email providers like Google. [Sophisticated hacks of large databases regularly occur despite the presence of such staff.] Further, he noted that Clinton used her personal email abroad, which could have allowed “hostile actors” to access her account.
Had Clinton used an @state.gov email address, it’s very likely that it would have been hacked, too. In fact, it’s known that Russian actors recently hacked the State Department email system. According to the New York Times, some State Department employees turned to private email addresses at least temporarily in order to avoid Russian hacker disruptions.
There is no evidence or even a suspicion that Hillary Clinton’s private email server was hacked. There is no evidence that there was anything other than private correspondence in the emails her staff deleted. It is known that the State Department email system was recently hacked. We conclude, and history will likely agree in years to come, that Hillary Clinton was wise to not trust the State Department email system. Her use of a personal server, a small and most likely unknown target to potential hackers, made her email more secure than if she had used the large and well-known target of the State Department’s email system. Such decentralization of storage of important documents in order to increase security and reduce the likelihood of hacking, may well become the computer industry’s recommendation in the future.
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THE BRADLEY FOUNDATION
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, based in Milwaukee, Wi, is a charitable foundation with more than $800 million in assets. The Foundation supports conservative arts, education and health organizations in Wisconsin.
Established in 1942 after the death of Lynde Bradley, the Foundation did not expand in size and focus on public policy until after the death of his brother Harry Lynde Bradley in 1965. When the Allen-Bradley factory automation manufacturing firm was acquired in 1985 by Rockwell International Corp., a significant portion of the proceeds went to the Bradley Foundation and its assets rose from $14 million to over $290 million. In 1986 the Foundation gave away $23 million, more than it had in the previous four decades. In 1980 only 2.5% of grants were related to public policy, but by 1990, under the leadership of Mike Joyce (formerly at the John M. Olin Foundation) it was 60%.
Conservative publisher Richard Mellon Scaife gave heavily to The Bradley Foundation over the years. In return, they contributed heavily to causes he supported, especially the Arkansas Project, financier of many false anti-Clinton stories over the years, which appeared in many places, but especially in the conservative conspiracy-theory magazine, The American Spectator.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has been called “the country’s largest and most influential right-wing organization” because of the volume of grants it distributes each year, a large number of which go to supporting a network of neoconservative-led groups.
The Bradley Foundation’s former president, Michael S. Joyce, was instrumental in creating the Philanthropy Roundtable, a conservative organization which has ties to the ultra-conservative billionaires, Charles and David Koch. It is designed for wealthy fund-giving individuals and foundations, especially those interested in undermining public education while supporting religiously-influenced, voucher-financed education. Betsy DeVos, long-term member of Philanthropy Roundtable’s Board of Directors, and scion of the billionaire DeVos family, became Donald Trump’s highly-criticized Secretary of Education on February 7, 2017.
Organizations awarded grants from the Bradley Foundation include: FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the SEED Foundation.
The Bradley Foundation’s network was hacked on October 31, 2016. A group linked to Anonymous Poland claimed credit for the breach and released a fabricated document falsely alleging that the foundation had given the Hillary Clinton campaign $150 million. The foundation stated that the document was a complete fake. The hackers also released 30GB of data, allegedly from the foundation’s servers.
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THE CLINTON FOUNDATION
The foundation has been a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation since it was founded in 1997, established by Bill Clinton with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.” Through 2016 the foundation had raised an estimated $2 billion from U.S. corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and various other groups and individuals. The foundation “has won accolades from philanthropy experts and has drawn bipartisan support”. Most of the money is used not for charitable grants to other organizations, but to carry out its own numerous humanitarian programs. Anyone may donate to it.
According to the Foundation’s website, Bill, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton draw no salary nor receive any income from the Foundation. Bill and Chelsea are governing board members, Hillary is a former board member.
The foundation’s major programs include: Clinton Health Access Initiative (spun off in 2010), Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton Global Citizen Awards, Clinton Climate Initiative, Clinton Development Initiative, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, Clinton Health Matters Initiative, several disaster relief programs (2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 2010 Haiti earthquake), No Ceilings Project.
In 2007, because Hillary Clinton was running for president, the Clinton foundation was criticized for lack of transparency and nondisclosure of donor names, although U.S. law did not require nonprofit charities to do so. In December 2008 they released a long list of donors, which included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Blackwater Worldwide (a security services company now called Academi).
When Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, an ethics agreement between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation was put into force. This agreement came under scrutiny from the news media during February 2015. The Wall Street Journal claimed that the Clinton Foundation had resumed accepting donations from foreign governments after Secretary Clinton’s tenure had ended. Contributions from foreign donors who are prohibited by law from contributing to political candidates in the U.S. constitute a major portion of the foundation’s income. A Washington Post investigation in 2014 showed that there was “substantial overlap between the Clinton political machinery and the foundation”. The investigation revealed that almost half of all donors who had backed Ready for Hillary, a group supporting her 2016 presidency bid, had also given at least $10,000 to the foundation, either personally or through their companies. The foundation’s chief communications officer Craig Minassian explained that it is a “false choice to suggest that people who may be interested in supporting political causes wouldn’t also support philanthropic work.”
A 2/25/15 Washington Post report on donations to the Clinton Foundation during the secretary’s tenure found six cases where foreign governments continued making donations at the same level they had before Clinton became secretary, which was permissible under the agreement, and only one instance of a new donation, $500,000 from Algeria for earthquake relief in Haiti, which was outside the bounds of the continuation provision and should have received a special ethics review, but did not. Foundation officials said that if the former secretary decided to run for president in 2016, they would again consider what steps to take in reference to foreign donations, stressing that, “As with other global charities, we rely on the support of individuals, organizations, corporations and governments who have the shared goal of addressing critical global challenges in a meaningful way. When anyone contributes to the Clinton Foundation, it goes towards foundation programs that help save lives.” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki attested that the foundation’s commitment to the ethics agreement in question “has been over and above the letter of the law.” In August 2016, less than 90 days before the upcoming presidential election, the Clinton Foundation announced that it would stop accepting foreign donations if Clinton is elected.
The Clinton Health Access Initiative was spun off into a separate organization in 2010. On 3/19/15, Reuters reported that it had failed to publish all of its donors and to let the State Department review all of its donations from foreign governments after the 2010 spin off. In April 2015, the New York Times reported that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department had approved a deal to sell American uranium to a Russian state-owned enterprise Uranium One whose chairman had donated to the Clinton Foundation, and that Clinton had failed to disclose such donations. The State Department “was one of nine government agencies, not to mention independent federal and state nuclear regulators that had to sign off on the deal.” FactCheck.org completely debunked the claims of Clinton wrongdoing and profit, noting that there is “no evidence” that the donations influenced Clinton’s official actions or that she was involved in the State Department’s decision to approve the deal.
Donald Trump claimed on 9/28/16 that: “[Clinton] gave up 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to Russia — to Russia. You know what people do with uranium, don’t you? It’s called nuclear. Twenty percent. They could have never done it without her. PolitiFact.com rated the claims as “Mostly False,” concluded that any “suggestion of a quid pro quo is unsubstantiated.” Again, the Clintons made no profit from any Clinton Foundation activity or gift because they make no profit not take salaries from any of the Foundation’s activities.
See also: Politifact.com: “Donald Trump inaccurately suggests Clinton got paid to approve Russia uranium deal,” a claim which they also rate as “Mostly False.”
In March 2015, after several news organizations raised questions about donations to the foundation, Charity Navigator added them to their watch (warning) list. The warning was removed in December 2015, and in September, 2016, the foundation received Charity Navigator’s highest possible rating, four out of four stars. Charity Watch, a different charity monitor, said that 88% of the foundation’s money goes toward its charitable mission and gave the foundation an “A” rating for 2016. In 2015, based on revenue of $223 million and an expense ratio of 12% the foundation spent in excess of $26 million to complete its mission.
On 2/11/16 The Washington Post reported that the U. S. Department of State issued a subpoena to the foundation in the fall of 2015. According to the report, the subpoena focused on “documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state” and “also asked for records related to Huma Abedin, longtime Clinton aide who for six months in 2012 was employed simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and a private consulting firm with ties to the Clintons.
In November 2016, a controversy arose due to the information that the Foundation accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.” Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin opined that the Qatari gift “raised ethical questions.” A New York Times story on 10/15/16 showed that Qatar had promised $1 million to the Clinton Foundation for Bill Clinton’s birthday in 2011, and the Qatari ambassador requested five minutes with Bill Clinton to present the check the following year. It’s unclear if the meeting ever took place.
The Clinton Family Foundation is a separate, private charitable foundation, reserved for the Clintons’ private philanthropy, although news sources frequently confuse the two. The significantly smaller Clinton Family Foundation received nearly all of the approximately $14 million the Clintons gave to charity from 2007–2013.
It should be noted that Donald Trump has refused to ever release his tax returns, which show his declared personal income and charitable contributions (if any), and so far there has been silence from the Republican Party members on this subject. Yet they all loudly and repeatedly decried the charitable spending and receiving of the Clinton Foundation, an entity from which none of the Clintons receive any income or gifts. Read the next article to discover how the Trump Foundation spends its money and buys gifts for Donald Trump.
The Atlantic: From Whitewater to Benghazi – David A. Graham, 11/6/16
Mother Jones: Sigh, Yet Another Non-Scandal at the Clinton Foundation – Kevin Drum, 9/1/16
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FOR COMPARISON: THE DONALD J. TRUMP FOUNDATION
Donald Trump often touted how wonderful his foundation is, especially in comparison to the Clinton Foundation, so it’s fair to take a look at it at this time.
A typical boasting and untrue tweet from Donald J. Trump:
Donald J. Trump Verified account @realDonaldTrump
The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses. 100% of money goes to wonderful charities!
7:06 PM – 26 Dec 2016
21,262 replies 15,295 retweets 67,661 likes
You will find farther down this page some numbers from the 2015 Form 990-PF for The Donald J. Trump Foundation which refute the tweeted nonsense above. The foundation not only had the usual and expected legal, filing, accounting and tax preparation expenses, but reported “other nondeductible charitable contributions” of $41,636. This item is not further detailed, and may consist of illegal nonsense similar to the $20,000 portrait of Trump (purchased 2007) and the $12,000 Tim Tebow’s signed football helmet (purchased 2012) which the foundation paid for and gave to the Trump family. How these could be considered charitable expenses is beyond the imagination of anyone except Trump.
Donald Trump often talks about how charitable he is, although he will not release the tax returns which would support or refute such statements. The Form 990-PF (Personal Foundation) reports which his foundation, begun in 1988, must file annually, paints a different picture. According to a lengthy report by The Atlantic, “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet,” the foundation skimps on giving, while the funding money often comes from sources other than Trump, including even NBC. The foundation was to take donations from third-party sources. It also reported donations it didn’t actually make. Special scrutiny has fallen on a $25,000 donation which it did give in September, 2013, to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, received by them shortly before she quashed an investigation into Trump University and the Trump Institute. Trump and Bondi of course claim there was no quid pro quo [which brings to mind the Profumo Affair’s Mandy Rice-Davies’ comment “Well he would [say that], wouldn’t he?], but the donation was illegal for a charitable nonprofit to make, and the foundation paid a $2,500 fine for doing it. Trump also apparently used $258,000 in foundation money, most of it given by other donors, to settle his legal disputes, including donations to charity in lieu of paying fines. Trump directed more than $2 million in income to the foundation, and if he didn’t pay taxes on this income—his campaign for the most part refused to say—it would be illegal tax-dodging. The Foundation’s Form 990PF for 2015 (page 21), for example, lists five contributors, including The Trump Corp. for $566,370, and Trump Productions LLC for $50,000. These payments may constitute tax-dodging.
IRS rules forbid “self-dealing;” The Foundation appears to have broken these rules by paying to resolve the foundation’s numerous legal disputes, as well as buying a portrait of Trump (in 2007 for $20,000) and a Tim Tibow helmet (in 2012, via a $12,000 check from Trump Foundation to Susan J. Komen breast cancer organization) both of which items went to the Trump family. In tax filings posted online in November 2016, the foundation admitted to self-dealing rule violations in 2015 as well as in prior unnamed years. Liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington charges that other laws may have been broken as well. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reportedly launched an investigation into the foundation. Schneiderman has also informed the foundation that it is in violation of rules on fundraising and ordered it to quit. Trump has announced plans to shutter his foundation, but reportedly cannot do so while it is under investigation.
Charity Navigator has issued Donald J. Trump Foundation a “Moderate Concern CN Advisory” which:
…highlights allegations being made against a charity or an employee of a charity that have not been confirmed yet, which is why these advisories are of moderate concern. Advisories at this level may also contain some concerns related to 990 and financial audit reporting issues.
Charity Watch does not rate the foundation because “it is structured as a private foundation.”
Here are some numbers from the 2015 Form 990PF (Return of Private Foundation) for The Donald J. Trump Foundation, EIN 13-3404773.
2015 assets at end of year: $1,116,241
2015 Revenue: $783,992 This consists of: Contributions Received: $781,370, Interest Income: $2,622.
2015 Contributions Received: $781,370. This consists of: $566,370 from Trump Corp, $50,000 from Trump Productions LLC, $50,000 from UK Office of Victor Pinchuk Foundation, $10,000 from NYREI, $5,000 from Lawrence Roman. See Item 1 above.
2015 Expense: $943,321. This consists of: Gifts Given $896,380; Other nondeductible charitable contributions $41,636; NYS filing fee $250; Weisermazars LLP (tax prep & accounting) $5,000; Legal fees $55.
[Note – the report contains no explanation for the $41,636 “Other nondeductible charitable contributions.” Later reports indicated there were payments to people or organizations not qualified to receive charitable donations. As a point of logic, “nondeductible” expenses ought not be deducted, as done here. They should be reimbursed to the foundation by whomever authorized the phony expenditure, and there should a penalty.]
2015 Net Loss: $159,329
[Note: It is likely that the 2015 net loss was incurred in order to bring the multi-year distribution ratio (see below) up to a more reasonable level and to spend down the accumulated assets in expectation of closing the foundation.]
Gifts Given: $896,380. This consists of 56 gifts, ranging from $100,000 each to Comic Relief Inc and Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation, down to $750 to The Indiana Golf Foundation and $415 to New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.
Carryovers: The foundation doesn’t come close to spending its accumulated monies. Funds carried over to following years ranged from $530,467 for 2014, up to $1,607,794 for 2012.
Distribution ratios: These are a critical metric in tracking how a charity utilizes or wastes their money.
This return cites the ratios for five prior years: 2010 – 38.7644%, 2011 – 46.8656% , 2012 – 78.2716%, 2013 – 61.4174% , 2014 – 44.9986%, yielding a 2010-2014 average of 54.0365%
The ratio for 2015 is not specifically stated, but is embedded within the various income & expense numbers.
[Note: For comparison, the Clinton Foundation spends in the 88% range, and is top-rated by the charity rating organizations Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.]
List (probably incomplete) of Illegalities in Trump Foundation activities:
- Mid-2000’s: Reconfiguration to a pass-through (receives money from third parties) without permission from New York State
- 2007: Six-foot-tall Portrait of Donald Trump painted by Michael Israel, $20,000.
- 2012: Football helmet autographed by Tim Tebow, $12,000.
- 2014: Four-foot-tall portrait of Donald Trump, painted by Havi Schanz, $14,000.
- 2015: Nondeductible Charitable Contribution of $41, 636, probably paid to Disqualified Person(s)
Final Note: The dust hasn’t settled on Donald J. Trump Foundation, and Trump can’t shutter it until all audits are done and penalties paid. The 2015 “Disqualified Person” who received transfer(s) has not been revealed. The $41,636 of Nondeductible Charitable Contributions has not been explained, and reimbursement for this “contribution” has not been made. So much for Trump’s false claim that “The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses. 100% of money goes to wonderful charities!”
The Atlantic: The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet – David A. Graham, 1/23/17
Contents: Sexual-Assault Allegations, The Beauty Pageant Scandals, Racial Housing Discrimination, Mafia Ties, Trump University, Trump Intimidation, The Four Bankruptcies, The Undocumented Polish Workers, Alleged Marital Rape, Breaking Casino Rules, Antitrust Violations, Condo Hotel Shenanigans, Corey Lewandowski, Suing Journalist Tim O’Brien for Libel, Refusing to Pay Workers and Contractors, Trump Institute, Buying Up His Own Books, Undocumented Models, The Trump Foundation, The Cuban Embargo.
The New York Times: Trump Revives Defense Of Charitable Foundation Amid Inquiry – Megan Twohey & Steve Eder, 12/27/16
The Huffington Post: Donald Trump Claims 100 Percent of His Foundation’s Money Goes To Charity. That’s a Lie – Hayley Miller 12/27/16
The Washington Post: Donald Trump plans to shut down his charitable foundation, which has been under scrutiny for months – Mark Berman & David A. Fahrenthold, 12/24/16
The Washington Post: Trump Foundation admits to violating ban on ‘self-dealing,’ new filing to IRS shows – David A. Fahrenthold, 11/22/16
The New York Times: New Records Shed Light On Donald Trump’s $25,000 Gift to Florida Official – Kevin Sack & Steve Eder, 9/14/16
The Washington Post: How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money – David A. Fahrenthold, 9/10/16
Tax Prof Blog: Tax Profs Weigh in on the Trump’s Foundation Tax Issues – Paul Caron, 9/30/16
Tax Prof Blog: Did Trump Violate IRS Rules by using his Foundation’s Money to Purchase Tebow-signed Helmet (Now Worth $415) for $12,000? – Paul Caron, 7/2/16
USA Today: Trump Foundation Apparently Admits to Self-dealing in New Tax Filing – Ray Locker & Kevin McCoy, 11/22/16
Vanity Fair: Records Reveal the Trump Foundation Admitted to Illegal “Self-dealing” – Abigail Tracy, 11/22/16
Donald J. Trump Foundation Form 990 for 2015 – 990s FoundationCenter.org filed Nov. 2016
Donald J. Trump Foundation Form 990 for 2014 – 990s FoundationCenter.org filed Nov. 2015
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THE CLINTON CASH BOOK
Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich , written by Peter Schweizer, was published in 2015. Research for the book was conducted by the Government Accountability Institute, a right-wing organization founded by Schweizer and Steve Bannon, at the time both employees of the far-right website Breitbart News. A film version was released in Philadelphia on 7/24/16, one day before the 2016 Democratic National Convention opened there. It had a limited release in four other major U.S. cities, before Breitbart News uploaded the film onto YouTube.
The book claims to investigate donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities, paid speeches made by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the state of the Clintons’ finances since leaving the White House in 2001. Some chapters of the book focus on particular transactions: the creation of UrAsia Energy and Uranium One in Kazakhstan; Bill Clinton’s paid speeches during the years Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State. [The details and debunking of the Uranium One charges are in the next section, The Russian Uranium Deal.]
The New York Times and The Washington Post were granted exclusive agreements with the book’s author to pursue the story lines found in the book and faced considerable criticism for this arrangement from their readers and other media outlets, including Media Matters, which criticized them for failing to report in a timely fashion on inaccuracies discovered in the book. Even The New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, said the arrangement was “troubling” and lacked transparency. Salon wrote that Schweizer was not a responsible journalist and that the arrangement showed that right-wing forces were luring the mainstream press into giving unwarranted attention to gossip and innuendo as they had during the 1990s.
The day the book was published, the Hillary Clinton campaign’s official website set up a portal called “The Briefing,” designed to rebut the allegations made in Schweizer’s book. Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, wrote: “The book has zero evidence to back up its outlandish claims… While we will not be consumed by these kinds of attacks, we will also not let them go unchallenged.”
Several weeks after the book’s initial publication, Harper Collins and the author made corrections to the Kindle edition of the book. Schweizer corrected “seven or eight” passages that were revealed to be inaccurate after the book was released. FactCheck.org found Schweizer’s assertion that Clinton, as Secretary of State, could have stopped Russia from buying a company with extensive uranium mining operations in the U.S. to be false. PolitiFact found the assertion that Clinton changed her views on a nuclear deal with India in response to donations to her family’s foundation to be false.
The book relies heavily on cherry-picking a few actual facts, then bulks that out with numerous “alternate facts,” makes sure to omits all pertinent facts which would disprove his case, and then glues the result together with layers of innuendo.
Here’s an imaginary illustration of a typical Schweizer argument:
Hillary went to New York City. Person A went to NYC at the same time. A taxicab had an accident. When will Hillary be indicted for this crime??? No connection is ever made between the various true events. It’s just innuendo.
Writer Jamelle Bouie dissected the book in “A Swing and a Miss” on Slate.com on May 5, 2015. Bouie’s first criticism has to do with a bill on a U.S.-India nuclear arms deal. Schweizer claims Hillary was bribed into changing her mind on the bill at the last minute after receiving donations from various Indian elites. He quotes Schweizer making a bold claim:
Hillary had not been a supporter of the bill, and her closest aides were all opposed to it. But in September 2008, as the bill’s fate hung in the balance, Amar Singh made a visit to New York to see Hillary. Joining him for a private dinner with the senator was Sant Chatwal….Hillary had supported the “killer amendment” two years earlier. According to Amar Singh, they had a two-hour dinner. In the days following, he was confident the deal would go through, based on what he heard. Having grown accustomed to the deal making and influence buying ways of the Indian parliament, he was open with the Indian media about what transpired in New York. (Hillary Clinton probably considered herself fortunate that his comments were never reported in American media.)
“The structure is clear. Schweizer makes several statements of fact—either through quotes or paraphrasing—but doesn’t ever build connective tissue between them. Instead, he lets them stand, and lets the reader draw the conclusion that Schweizer outlines in the very beginning: that Bill and Hillary traded influence for cash and donations.”
“But for as much as he can make the Clintons look bad with lurid examples of iffy transactions—Chatwal, for instance, arranged a $450,000 speaking gig for Bill Clinton—Schweizer never gets around to giving definitive proof of illegal deals or unethical behavior. Take the India affair: Not only does Schweizer lack evidence of a tit-for-tat between Clinton and the Indian donors, but he gets key details wrong. He writes that in 2006 she was a “reluctant and questionable supporter of the bill,” but in June of that year—notes Politico—she issued a press release announcing her plan to vote for the legislation [this website’s emphasis]. Likewise, contra Schweizer, Clinton voted for two of the three “killer amendments” that put safeguards for nonproliferation on the agreement. It’s this missing evidence that consistently hurts the case for wrongdoing in Clinton Cash.”
Schweizer does the same throughout the book. His handling of The Russian Uranium Deal” (detailed below) is more sloppy and cherry-picked than the Indian nuclear bill story. He cites nine investors in Uranium One who supposedly profited from the sale of this firm to the Russians and “funneled” donations to the Clinton Foundation as payment. Five of the nine had never owned shares in Uranium One; three had, but their donations to the Clinton Foundation were paid well before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009. These eight investors donated approximately $140 million to the Clinton Foundation, all of it well before the discussions for sale of Uranium One to the Russians ever arose. In 2008, well before the purchase by the Russian firm was on the radar, the remaining investor, Ian Telfer, Chairman of Uranium One, promised about $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, but didn’t get around to paying it until 2010.
Schweizer also claims Hillary approved the sale of Uranium One to the Russian firm. She wasn’t even at the meeting where nine U.S. agencies approved the deal, nor did she give input or instructions to the State Dept. representative who was present. Schweizer claims Hillary could have vetoed the deal. She couldn’t; only the president could. The only “fact” rising even so far as half-truth was Telfer’s donation, promised in 2008, two years before the sale of Uranium One to the Russians. Even the claims of American uranium going to the Russians were bogus. What the Russian firm wanted and what they got were Uranium One’s uranium mines in Kazakhstan. No uranium from American soil left America. But the details are below in “The Russian Uranium Deal.”
Bouie points out that Schweizer’s arguments are a form of the age-old logical fallacy, argumentum petitio principii or “begging the question,” a phrase in common misuse these days. In logic it means to include your conclusion as part of your premise, and could be stated as: “If A is true, and B is true, then A is true.” By assuming that the Clintons were crooks taking bribes, then searching through the facts for a few which might support his premise, leaving out any contradictory facts (such as that all the donations from the nine Uranium One “investors” were given or promised before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State), then leaving it for the reader to decide what was true, he hints at much, proves nothing, and leaves any sane reader shaking their head at such rubbish. The only people who’d believe it are those primed by decades of anti-Clinton propaganda to already believe it before they read it.
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THE RUSSIAN URANIUM DEAL
Published in May 2015, Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich made several charges about the Clintons including, as Snopes.com puts it, “Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of a deal to transfer control of 20% of U.S. uranium deposits to a Russian company was a quid pro quo exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation.”
On June 22, 2016, Donald Trump reanimated from the dead this phony charge in a speech in New York City. He said: “Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation — $145 million dollars.”
The Short Version
Snopes.com calls the book’s charge FALSE. Read about it here.
Politifact.com calls Trump’s statement MOSTLY FALSE. Read about it here.
FactCheck.Org says: “Schweizer….simply goes too far when he says Clinton had “veto power” and “could have stopped” the uranium deal.” They add: “Federal guidelines say any one of nine voting members of the committee can object to such a foreign transaction, but the final decision then rests with the president. Only the President has the authority to suspend or prohibit a covered transaction.” Read about it here.
The Long and Tedious Version
On July 5, 2005, Southern Cross Resources Inc. and Aflease Gold and Uranium Resources Ltd merged under the name SXR Uranium One Inc., headquartered in South Africa. Also in 2005, Frank Giustra, owner of a controlling interest in UrAsia Energy (Canadian firm headquartered in Vancouver), traveled with Bill Clinton to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Shortly thereafter, UrAsia acquired the Kazakhstan uranium interests of Kazatomprom.
On February 12, 2007, with their shareholders voting on the transaction around May 15, 2007, Uranium One announced they would acquire all of the outstanding common shares of UrAsia (including all of Giustra’s controlling interest), including the Kazakhstan uranium operation.
A brief aside. Frank Giustra made substantial contributions to the Clinton Foundation totaling $131.3 million over the period late 2005 to June 2007. In June 2007, Giustra launched the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership with Bill Clinton, a partnership between the Clinton Foundation, private sector, governments, local communities, and other NGOs. Also launched in June 2007, The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative aims to alleviate poverty in the developing world in partnership with the global mining community. Its projects for Colombia and Peru alone include: small business development, medical missions, child nutrition and education, sustainable small and micro- businesses, and market-driven economic development. Along with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, Giustra pledged a minimum of $100 million each toward the effort and the money was given to the Clinton Foundation. On June 17, 2010, Giustra joined with Carlos Slim and President Clinton to create a $20 million fund to assist small businesses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
In June 2009, the Russian uranium mining company ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. (ARMZ), a part of Rosatom, acquired 16.6% of shares in Uranium One in exchange for a 50% interest in the Karatau uranium mining project, a joint venture with Kazatomprom. In June 2010, Uranium One acquired 50% and 49% respective interests in southern Kazakhstan-based Akbastau and Zarechnoye uranium mines from ARMZ. In exchange, ARMZ increased its stake in Uranium One to 51%. The acquisition resulted in a 60% annual production increase at Uranium One, from approximately 10 million to 16 million pounds. The deal was subject to anti-trust and other conditions and was not finalized until the companies received Kazakh regulatory approvals, approval under Canadian investment law, clearance by the US Committee on Foreign Investments, and approvals from both the Toronto and Johannesburg stock exchanges. The deal was finalized by the end of 2010. Uranium One paid its minority shareholders a significant dividend of US$1.06 per share at the end of 2010.
ARMZ took complete control of Uranium One in January 2013 in a transaction which was reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. In December 2013 an internal reorganization of Rosatom extinguished the interest of ARMZ, making Uranium One a direct subsidiary of Rosatom.
Schweizer’s book, reiterated by Trump, claimed that there were nine investors who purportedly profited from the sale to the Russian firm and in return “funneled” money to the Clinton Foundation. [It has been mentioned elsewhere on the page, but we will repeat here: Bill, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton draw no salary nor receive any income from the Foundation. Donald Trump, in contradistinction, profited in 2015 from “gifts” from his foundation to himself.] Of the “nine investors”, five – including Frank Giustra – were linked to UrAsia only, and thus were no longer involved after mid-2007 when Uranium One acquired all of UrAsia’s outstanding common shares. Eight of the nine, Uranium One Chairman Ian Telfer excepted, did not donate to the Clinton Foundation after 2008. Ian Telfer, chairman of Uranium One, did give around $2 million to the Clinton Foundation during the period 2009 – 2013, but he had previously committed to the gift in 2008.
As the Russian deal(s) occurred in June 2009 (acquired 16.6% of Uranium One) and June 2010 (increased stake to 51% of Uranium One), the donations from the nine investors occurred well before the deal, and eight of the nine were no longer involved with any of the companies by the time the Russian firm ARMZ acquired any of Uranium One. Both the book and Trump are wrong.
The Russian firm ARMZ’s 2010 purchase of a 51% controlling stake in Uranium One had to be approved by the nine members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. That included Clinton as Secretary of State, but also the secretaries of the Treasury (the chairman of the committee), Defense, Justice, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security as well as the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The deal also had to be approved by the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as Utah’s nuclear regulator.
On April 26, 2015, Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash, admitted to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News on that he didn’t have “direct evidence” proving Hillary Clinton played a part. The State Department’s principal representative on the committee, José Fernandez said Clinton had nothing to do with the decision in the Uranium One case. Fernandez, who as former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs was the State Department’s principal representative on the committee, rejected the notion that Clinton’s foundation ties had any bearing on the deal. “Secretary Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter,” he told Time.
No uranium mined in America left the U.S. for Russia. Russia was buying the Kazakh uranium mines. No money went to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for the approval of the deal, and the Clinton’s make no salary or profit from anything the Clinton Foundation does anyway. The donations from the nine investors to the Clinton Foundation were made years before the Russians began to acquire Uranium One, except for Telfer’s $2 million promised in 2008, but paid in 2010. Nine U.S. governmental agencies, plus the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, plus the Utah nuclear regulator, approved the deal. Clinton was not on the commission, had no part in the approval process, could not have vetoed the approval, and did not confer with the representative from the State Dept., José Fernandez, about any CFRIUS matters.
According to The Hill, in 2014 Peter Schweizer, gave a call to action to the attendees of one of the notorious summits sponsored by the conservative multimillionaire donors Charles and David Koch. According to the Lady Libertine blog, which released a number of audio tracks of prominent conservatives speaking at the retreat, Schweizer said: “The question is: Are we going to let up? And I would contend to you that we cannot let up.”
Both the book Clinton Cash and Donald Trump, current president of the United States, had a very poor grasp of their “facts.”
Medium: ‘Clinton Cash’ & NYT Fail to Prove Any Connection Between Hillary Clinton & Russian Purchase of Uranium Assets – Brian Fallon, 4/23/15
MediaMatters: MBC News Just Admitted The NY Times; Story Based on Clinton Cash “Doesn’t Hold Up That Well,” Here’s Why – Oliver Willis, 4/24/15
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There does not yet appear to be an analysis of the number or proportion of negative fake news stories about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump which benefited the other party. So we’ve pulled together some facts from various sources.
From Public Policy Polling.com – December 9, 2016
“Over the course of the campaign we found there was a cult like aspect to Trump’s support, where any idea he put forth a substantial share of his supporters would go along with. We see that trend continuing post-election.”
Relatively few Trump voters have a firm grasp of reality:
- 18% – Agree that Hillary Clinton did not received millions of illegal votes
- 49% – Agree that Clinton won the national popular vote
- 53% – Agree that California’s votes should be allowed to count in the national popular vote
- 06% – Agree that George Soros is not paying protesters against Trump
- 54% – Agree that #Pizzagate is fake
- 20% – Agree that unemployment decreased during the Obama administration
- 41% – Agree that the stock market went up during the Obama administration
PolitiFact.com gave its 2016 Lie of the Year award to the entire body of Fake News, rather than to any single lie. They cited a few whoppers, saying, “None of those stories – and there are so many more like them – is remotely true.”
Fake news: Hillary Clinton is running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop.
Fake news: Democrats want to impose Islamic law in Florida.
Fake news: Thousands of people at a Donald Trump rally in Manhattan chanted, “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back.”
Fake news found a willing enabler in Trump, who at times uttered outrageous falsehoods and legitimized made-up reports. Clinton emboldened her detractors and turned off undecideds with a lawyerly parsing of facts that left many feeling that she was lying. Her enemies ran wild.
BuzzFeed News reported on 11/16/16:
In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found. During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. (This analysis focused on the top performing link posts for both groups of publishers, and not on total site engagement on Facebook.)
The New York Times described the experience of 22-year old Beqa Latsabidze, 22, a computer science student in the nation of Georgia. He decided in early 2016 to make some money from “America’s voracious appetite for passionately partisan political news.” When his website of stories favorable to Hillary Clinton didn’t work, he changed to “laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor.” In Vancouver, Canada, John Egan found the same thing when he “discovered that writing about Mr. Trump was a “gold mine.” His traffic soared and his work, notably a story that President Obama would move to Canada if Mr. Trump won, was plundered by Mr. Latsabidze and other internet entrepreneurs for their own websites. “It’s all Trump,” Mr. Egan said by telephone. “People go nuts for it.”
Paul Horner has for years made his living from fake news and viral hoaxes, reports the Washington Post. His recent stories have been cited and re-tweeted by members of Trump’s family and election team, such as the phony story about the Amish committing to vote for Trump. His only complaint is about how crowded the field has recently become.
In an interview he was asked: Why did something like your story about Obama invalidating the election results (almost 250,000 Facebook shares, as of this writing) go so viral?
“Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Michael Flynn, who lasted less than a month as National Security Advisor to Donald Trump, isn’t the only one in his family who has a problem with promoting idiocy. His son, Michael Flynn, Jr., followed in his father’s fumbling footsteps on #Pizzagate.
The New York Times reported on 12/5/16:
Well before he joined the Trump campaign, the elder Mr. Flynn, 57, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, pushed unsubstantiated claims about Islamic law’s spreading in the United States and about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. But in his emergence this year as the angry former general out to help Mr. Trump clean up Washington, Mr. Flynn added wild stories about Hillary Clinton to his stock of unproven tales. Six days before the election, for instance, Mr. Flynn posted on Twitter a fake news story that claimed the police and prosecutors in New York had found evidence linking Mrs. Clinton and much of her senior campaign staff to pedophilia, money laundering, perjury and other felonies. Flynn has since deleted his Twitter account.
Michael Flynn Jr @mflynnJR
Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many “coincidences” tied to it. 7:13 PM – 4 Dec 2016
The nut doesn’t fall far from the pecan tree.
BuzzFeed: This Analysis Shows How Viral Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News on Facebook; Craig Silverman, 11/16/16
The Washington Post: Facebook fake news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’; Caitlin Dewey, 11/17/16
The New York Times: Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This is all about income’; Andrew Higgins, Mike McIntire and Gabriel J.X. Dance, 11/25/16
The New York Times: Trump Advisor Has Pushed Clinton Conspiracy Theories; Matthew Rosenberg, 12/5/16
Public Policy Polling: Trump Remains Unpopular; Voters Prefer Obama on SCOTUS Pick; 12/9/16
PolitiFact: 2016 Lie of the Year: Fake News; Angie Drobnic Holan, 12/13/16
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This bizarre story from the Upside-Down parallel world began when Wikileaks published emails hacked – probably by the Russians – from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. A few emails from 2008 discussed organizing a pizza dinner at Comet Ping Pong, a popular restaurant/bar in Washington D.C.
It could well be the combined and simultaneous effect of Pizzagate and James Comey’s October Surprise of 2016 which pushed the Clinton campaign under the electoral vote margin of victory. A one-two punch, well-orchestrated and successful. But perhaps an attack by two crowbar-wielding thugs is a better analogy.
The New York Times has an excellent timeline of the events.
The first fake news story in Pizzagate appeared on October 30, 2016, with two tweets from “David Goldberg @DavidGoldbergNY, which BuzzFeed News says is a white supremacy Twitter account. The first was ignored but the second caught on.
We’re not going to do a blow-by-blow recapitulation here of this insane and eventually tragic story. It has been well-reported elsewhere. Suffice it to say that the story, including loads of fake and irrelevant but spicy photos, caught on among those well-oiled by the propaganda machine to believe anything hideous about Hillary Clinton. Secret basements, child sex slaves, satanic rituals – when the Big Lie is used, no lie is too absurd. This story – of course – broke just before the election, simultaneously with James Comey’s October Surprise of 2016, leaving insufficient time to adequately refute it, and leaving the woefully gullible to read about it, stew about it and pass it on.
Michael Flynn lasted less than a month as National Security Advisor to Donald Trump, due to his lies about meeting with the Russians during the campaign. On Nov. 2, 2016 (according to The New York Times), only three days after the story first broke on Twitter, Flynn was passing on this odious bit of fake news on his own Twitter account, written in the mixture of regular and capital letters beloved by bizarre wackos.
The New York Times reported the following on 12/5/16:
“But in his emergence this year as the angry former general out to help Mr. Trump clean up Washington, Mr. Flynn added wild stories about Hillary Clinton to his stock of unproven tales. Six days before the election, for instance, Mr. Flynn posted on Twitter a fake news story that claimed the police and prosecutors in New York had found evidence linking Mrs. Clinton and much of her senior campaign staff to pedophilia, money laundering, perjury and other felonies.”
Flynn has since deleted his Twitter account.
Is it accidental that this especially lurid and vicious piece of fake news appeared only eight days before the election, that in-and-out Attorney General Michael Flynn latched onto it only three days after it appears, that Michael Flynn lied about his meetings with the Russians, and that Hillary Clinton drops once percent in the polls during this period? Perhaps the Russians – disguised as white supremacist “David Goldberg,” or acting as a source to this person or persons – got the ball rolling as per one of the prior discussions with Flynn. Flynn allows three days to pass so as not to seem overly connected to the story and to get even closer to election day, then jumps on the Pizzagate Twitter propaganda-wagon. Between Pizzagate and Comey’s discovery of Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, it was enough to knock Clinton down one percent in the polls, and enough to flip a couple of battleground states from Clinton to Trump.
The more one looks at these events, the more Trump looks like the “Siberian Candidate.”
Back to Pizzagate.
One of the unfortunate gullible eventually decided to act. As PolitiFact describes it:
Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old man from Salisbury, N.C., walked into Comet Ping Pong in the capital around 3 p.m. on Dec. 4. Police said pointed his gun at a worker, who fled, and then Welch started firing the rifle inside the restaurant, the Washington Post reported. Patrons and other employees also ran away, police said. The suspect, who allegedly had an AR-15-style rifle and other weapons, surrendered to police and was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. There were no reported injuries. Welch told police he was there to check into unfounded rumors that Comet Ping Pong, which hosts children’s parties and occasionally small concerts, was actually part of what the Internet has dubbed “Pizzagate.” D.C. police described Pizzagate as “a fictitious online conspiracy theory” in its press release for Welch’s arrest.
Edgar Welch will undoubtedly spend many years in prison for his shooting spree. This completely fictitious story, repeated over and over in the anti-Clinton web-based echo chamber, “pushed his buttons.” Fueled by righteous anger, motivated by an altruistic desire to free purported child sex-slaves, but failing to “consider the source” of the reports, he blundered onward and ruined his life. Those who concocted this story, adding lie upon lie, should occupy the cells next to his.
Big lies persist, and the skepticism-challenged, gullible public persist in believing them. Even after the shooting, according to a 12/9/17 report by Salon.com:
According to the poll of 1224 registered voters, 14 percent of Trump voters said that they believed that Hillary Clinton was connected to a child sex ring run from the basement of a Washington D.C. pizzeria — a bogus claim that eventually became Pizzagate and led to a man bringing a gun into the Comet Ping Pong Pizza to investigate. Alarmingly, 32 percent of Trump supporters said they weren’t sure about the claim.
BuzzFeed News: How the Bizarre Conspiracy Theory behind “Pizzagate” was Spread; Craig Silverman, 11/4/16
BuzzFeed News: “Pizzagate” Conspiracy Theory Brought Armed Man to D.C., Police Say; John Stanton & Michelle Broder Van Dyke, 12/4/16
PolitiFact.com: How Pizzagate went from fake news to a real problem for a D.C. business; Joshua Gillin, 12/5/16
The Washington Post: From rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C.; Marc Fisher, John Woodrow Cox & Peter Hermann, 12/6/16
Salon: A lot of Donald Trump Supporters believe fake news and trust him more than real news: Poll; Grace Guarnieri, 12/9/16
The New York Times: Dissecting the #PizzaGate Conspiracy Theories; Gregor Aisch, Jon Huang & Cecilia Kang, 12/10/16
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HUMA ABEDIN – HILLARY CLINTON’S AIDE
Huma Abedin (born 7/28/76) was vice-chairperson of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for President of the United States. Prior to that, Abedin was deputy chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2013. She is married to Anthony Weiner, a former U.S. Representative from New York, although she separated from him on 8/26/16 following several “sexting” incidents.
Conservative conspiracy-theory promoting WorldNewsDaily has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that Abedin has links to the Muslim Brotherhood. On 6/13/12, five Republican propaganda-spreading members of Congress – Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Thomas J. Rooney of Florida, and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia – sent a letter to the State Department Inspector General, claiming that Abedin “has three family members – her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” These five alleged that Abedin had “immediate family connections to foreign extremist organizations” which they said were “potentially disqualifying conditions for obtaining a security clearance” and questioned why Abedin had not been “disqualified for a security clearance”. These unsubstantiated lies continue to be cranked out regularly by WorldNewsDaily.
The claims in the letter were debunked and flagged as conspiracy theories. The Washington Post editorial board called the allegations “paranoid”, a “baseless attack”, and a “smear.” The letter was also criticized by, among others, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Keith Ellison, and Republican Senator John McCain. McCain rejected the allegations, saying: “The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government. … These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit.” The Jewish Anti-Defamation League condemned the letter, calling upon the Representatives involved to “stop trafficking in anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.” Snopes.com rates the claim as “Unproven,” and adds that “…before she could serve as Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Abedin underwent a security clearance requiring, among other things, vetting of her personal and professional history to establish her loyalty to the United States and ‘freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion.’” Snopes.com adds: “…we think it likely that the investigators charged with the task have better research tools available to them than does the average Internet user.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, raised questions about the fact that Abedin simultaneously held four jobs from June 2012 to February 2013: part-time aide to Clinton at the State Department; advisor to strategic consulting firm Teneo Holdings (whose clients include Coca-Cola); contractor to the Clinton Foundation on Hillary’s transition from public life; personal advisor to Hillary Clinton on the same transition. In July 2015, Grassley released information indicating that the State Department’s inspector general had found that Abedin was overpaid by almost $10,000 for unused leave time when she left the government. Her lawyer, Miguel Rodriguez, told The New York Times that the inspector general’s report showed that Abedin worked during her maternity leave and had thus earned that pay.
Abedin served as vice-chairwoman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2015-16. She screened and interviewed applicants for key campaign roles, including campaign manager Robby Mook, and was the primary channel for communications to Clinton before the campaign officially began. When presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, she wrote an open letter to Clinton supporters calling herself “a proud Muslim” and criticized Trump’s plan as “literally (writing) racism into our law books.”
Because Abedin was a woman, a Muslim, and a Hillary Clinton employee, the conservative conspiracy-theorists and propagandists went wild, and rumors and lies around her continued to grow. Freedom of Information requests (Oct’15), investigations into her simultaneous jobs of three years earlier, emails to and from Hillary Clinton, Benghazi involvement, eight hours of testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Keep the pot boiling and something will float up.
On October 28, 2016, eleven days before the presidential election, the FBI announced that while combing through the computer of Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, looking for sexy text messages, they discovered e-mails related to Clinton’s private server. FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency would review the e-mails to see if they contained classified material. A search warrant was obtained on October 30, and on November 6, barely two days before the election, the FBI said in a letter to Congress that, after reviewing all of Clinton’s emails from her tenure as Secretary of State, it had not changed its conclusion reached in July exonerating Clinton.
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JAMES COMEY AND THE OCTOBER SURPRISE OF 2016
On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced that the FBI, while combing through Anthony Weiner’s laptop computer, had discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton’s private server. They intended to investigate them quickly to see if they contained classified material and would let the public know the results. A search warrant was obtained on October 30, and on November 6, just two days before the election, the FBI said in a letter to Congress that, after reviewing all of Clinton’s emails from her tenure as Secretary of State which they found on Weiner’s laptop, it had not changed its conclusion reached in July, which had exonerated Clinton.
We believe that this event constitutes a successful “October Surprise” operation on Hillary Clinton. The intent of an October Surprise is to damage the opposition sufficiently near to the election date in such a manner that they cannot recover from the damage in time to recover lost ground and win the election. We suspect, but do not know, if outside forces talked or otherwise pressured Director Comey into making this announcement. We don’t know how long the FBI team searching Weiner’s laptop knew of the emails or when Director Comey learned of their presence, but the possibility that they sat on the announcement in order to get closer to the election date should be investigated. Comey could have chosen to investigate the emails without making any announcement. If they then discovered important evidence that must be made public, they could have made an announcement on November 6, rather than announce the investigation over with nothing new found. But they didn’t. The public announcement was made on October 28. On November 6 they said, in effect, “Oh, never mind.” By that time, Hillary Clinton had dropped 1.2% in the polls. She recovered slightly over the next day and a half, but not enough to win four crucial states: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In our estimation, she would have won those four states had she not suffered the drop from Comey’s October Surprise.
It should be mentioned here that Pizzagate, simultaneously occurring, may also have been an element of the 2016 October Surprise; a one-two punch.
Nate Silver had – until this election – an unparalleled record of predicting national elections. In 2012 he correctly predicted the allocation of all of the 538 Electoral College votes; in 2008 he missed only on Indiana and the 2nd Congressional District in Nebraska which awards it’s own electoral vote. We’ll use his predictions as representing the best prediction data available.
For the period 10/27-11/8/16, Nate Silver’s national predictions and actual results were as follows:
|Nate Silver’s Predictions for 2016 Presidential Election|
|Date||Chance of winning||Electoral Votes||Popular Vote||Popular Vote||Popular Vote|
For the period October 27 to November 8, Silver predicted that Clinton’s popular vote would drop 1% (49.5% to 48.5%). For the same period Silver predicted that Trump’s popular vote would rise 1.3% (43.6% to 44.9%). The post-election results show that Clinton dropped an additional 0.3% while Trump rose an additional 1.2%. Gary Johnson during the same period dropped 0.3% in prediction, and dropped an additional 0.9% in reality.
In our opinion, Clinton’s 1% predicted drop was the effect of the October Surprise, with her loss of votes going directly to Donald Trump’s gain. Her additional loss of 0.3% was the result of sampling inaccuracy, including people intentionally lying to pollsters about their how they planned to vote. It is impossible to determine the exact effect – if any – of the October Surprise on Johnson’s numbers. In order to be extremely conservative in our examination of the effect of Comey’s October Surprise on the outcome, we will assume that Johnson’s numbers were not affected by the October Surprise – that his numbers would be the same with or without Comey’s October Surprise – that his entire voter drop-off would have happened anyway, as people switched their allegiance to a candidate actually capable of winning. We will likewise assume that all of Trump’s gains, with the exception of the 1% gain from Clinton’s 1% loss, would also have happened anyway.
These assumptions have the effect of minimizing Comey’s October Surprise portion of the changes between Nate Silver’s predicted outcome of October 27, one day prior to Comey’s announcement, and the actual outcome from the November 8, 2016 election. If we assumed otherwise than we do, the effect on our analysis would be to further decrease Clinton’s losses in both popular and electoral college votes, and likewise increase Trump’s losses.
We’ll now look at the effects of Comey’s October Surprise by adding back to Clinton’s popular vote the one percent she lost due to the October Surprise. All the actual votes for the following five charts came from Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. [Not long after we collected this data, Leip’s site apparently closed its door to unpaid investigations.] We first look at the overall national numbers.
|Actual vote||Actual Pct.||One Percent||Oct. Surprise||Change|
Clinton’s increase of one percent translates to slightly over 1.37 million votes. But as we’ve already seen several times, it’s not the popular vote which wins the election, it’s the votes in the electoral college, and to determine the electoral college vote change, we must look at four critical “battleground” states. The above chart shows an increase in electoral votes for Clinton of 75 votes, and a corresponding decrease of 75 for Trump. These 75 votes are the total electoral college votes for the four major battleground states which we will now look at: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Rather than using the national October Surprise change of one percent from October 27 to November 8, as we did above for the nationwide results, our analysis for the four individual states will use Nate Silver’s Project 538 projections for each of those four individual states. We will use the same actual vote counts from. The final results show that Hillary Clinton wins all four states.
|Change per State||Clinton||Trump||Clinton||Trump|
|Projected Vote 10/27||48.7%||46.4%||49.4%||42.8%|
|Projected Vote 11/08||48.1%||47.5%||48.4%||44.2%|
|Oct Surprise pct
|Poll Error pct||0.69%||-1.09%||1.37%||-3.05%|
|Actual Vote pct
|Actual Vote Candidate
|Total Votes Cast||9,502,955||9,502,955||4,824,542||4,824,542|
|Remove Oct Surprise pct
|Vote w/o Oct Surprise||4,561,993||4,560,868||2,317,084||2,231,298|
|Clinton Vict. Margin||1,124||85,787|
|Electoral vote change||29||-29||16||-16|
Using the example of Florida for Clinton, as seen in the first column in the chart above, the projected vote percentage for October 27 (48.7%) and November 8 (48.1%) are from Nate Silver’s 538 projections for each state. October Surprise % (0.6%) is the difference between those two dates. Polling error percent (0.69%) is the 11/8 projected vote percentage (48.1%) less the actual result (47.41%). The actual vote percent (47.41%) is the actual vote for Clinton (4,504,975) divided by the total actual vote for all candidates (9,502,955). The Remove October Surprise percentage (48.01%) is the actual vote percentage (47.41%) plus the October Surprise percentage (0.6%). Vote without the October Surprise (4,561,993) is the total votes cast (9,502,955) times the Remove October Surprise percentage (48.01%).
Bottom Line for Florida: The tiny 0.6% increase in Clinton’s votes in Florida, which she lost because of the October Surprise, is enough to swing the vote to her with a final margin of 1,124, giving her Florida’s 29 electoral votes.
This analysis is applied to the other three states. In all cases, we are conservative in our estimate of the effect of the October Surprise, using only the decline in projected votes between Oct. 27 and Nov. 8. All other changes are ascribed to polling projection errors, and are treated as if they would have remained unchanged had the October Surprise not occurred. If the polling projection error percentages were combined with the October Surprise percentages, Clinton’s margin of victory would be much larger. The percentage deducted from Trump’s votes is exactly the same as that added to Clinton’s votes.
|Change per State||Clinton||Trump||Clinton||Trump|
|Projected Vote 10/27||50.2%||43.8%||50.0%||43.3%|
|Projected Vote 11/08||48.9%||45.2%||49.6%||44.3%|
|Oct Surprise pct||1.3%||-1.3%||0.4%||-0.4%|
|Actual Vote pct||47.46%||48.17%||46.45%||47.22%|
|Poll Error pct||1.44%||-2.97%||3.15%||-2.92%|
|Actual Vote Candidate
|Remove Oct Surprise pct||48.76%||46.87%||46.85%||46.82%|
|Total Votes Cast||6,166,710||6,166,710||2,976,150||2,976,150|
|Vote w/o Oct Surprise||3,006,608||2,890,566||1,394,441||1,393,379|
|Clinton Vict. Margin||116,042||1,061|
|Electoral vote change||20||-20||10||-10|
As shown in the previous chart for the U.S. National results, this swings the Electoral College vote as shown in the next chart, and Clinton wins the election by almost the same margin with which Trump won it.
|Electoral Collage Results||Electoral Vote||Results without|
|United States||Final Count||Change||October Surprise|
Clinton did not have to win all four of these states in order to win the Electoral College. She needed 270 Electoral Votes, or an increase of 38 votes from her 232, in order to win. She could have lost Florida and won the other three and still win the college. If she won Florida plus any one of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, she would still have won the college and the election. We maintain that these figures provide excellent support for the argument that Clinton would have won both the popular vote and the Electoral College if Comey’s October Surprise had not occurred.
This conservative analysis demonstrates that if Comey had not made his October 28 announcement, it is highly probable that Hillary Clinton would have won all four of these battleground states, and the additional 75 electoral votes would have given her the victory. The margins in Florida and Wisconsin were slim. They would have been greater if the nationwide October Surprise decrease of one percent had been used. [An alternative analysis was done, applying the nationwide decrease of one percent to the individual four states, but is not presented here. In this alternative, Clinton won Florida by 77,149 votes, Michigan by an unchanged 85,787, Pennsylvania by 79,042, Wisconsin by 36,775, and won the electoral college votes of all four states.]
We do not claim that these figures prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Clinton would have won the election had not FBI Director James Comey given his October Surprise announcement, causing her popular vote figures to drop one percent, leaving her insufficient time to recover, and throwing the election to Trump. They do prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Was this a true, planned October Surprise? If it walks and quacks like a duck, one ought to really carefully consider the strong possibility that one is truly looking at a duck. The timing of the discovery of Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop, the timing of Comey’s announcements, and the results certainly look like an intentional and successful October Surprise.
These figures point towards the necessity of a full investigation – perhaps not by the FBI and certainly not by the Republican-controlled Congress, but by an Independent Prosecutor – into the actions of FBI personnel involved and FBI Director James Comey. Was there an agreement, a quid pro quo, between Comey and Trump or Trump’s people? Were Russian moles in the FBI involved? Was Weiner’s computer hacked? Was there any connection to the Pizzagate frenzy, occurring at the same time? Are either of these events linked to the Russian email hacking, or to the secretive and conveniently forgotten meetings between members of Trump’s campaign team – especially Michael Flynn who helped spread the Pizzagate lie in his Tweets – and the Russians? We don’t know, but we need to take a good look and find out.
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