Fox News’ Latest Inaccurate Clinton “Pay-To-Play” Claim Happened Two Years After She Left The State Department
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The National Rifle Association is misrepresenting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s past statements on both the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller and the investigation into Clinton’s private email server in order to falsely brand her a liar on both accounts.
The Washington Examiner claimed that new Hillary Clinton emails released by Judicial Watch “appear to contradict her sworn testimony” that she did not recall discussing her private email server with former State Department IT specialist Bryan Pagliano. But the email chain merely showed that four years ago, Clinton asked Pagliano for help receiving emails, not discussing an email server.
The Examiner’s claim comes in the wake of the latest batch of emails released by the conservative and anti-Clinton Judicial Watch on October 19. Singling out two innocuous email chains where Clinton discussed email issues with Pagliano, the Examiner claimed that Clinton lied to the FBI about not recalling her conversations about her email server with Pagliano:
"Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall having communications with Bryan Pagliano concerning or relating to the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of any emails in her clintonemail.com email account," Clinton testified through her lawyer, David Kendall, after raising objections to the question.
But emails provided to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act show Clinton included Pagliano in discussions about her Blackberry, iPad and server when her network experienced problems in 2012.
The two email chains included among 15 pages of documents published by Judicial Watch on Wednesday, show Pagliano wrote directly to Clinton and copied Justin Cooper, a former Clinton Foundation aide who also provided assistance for the email system, in March 2012.
"Let me take a look at the server to see if it offers any insight," Pagliano wrote in an email to Clinton after she complained to him and Cooper of the "troubles" plaguing her Blackberry.
Clinton’s failure to remember a handful of email conversations four years prior discussing a technical issue with an IT specialist does not contradict her sworn testimony to the FBI. The email chain similarly does not show Clinton discussing anything “concerning or relating to the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of any emails” with Pagliano, but simply discussing her attempting to receive emails to her mobile device. In the email chain, Clinton explained she’s having trouble receiving emails on her BlackBerry and that she took out the battery in an attempt to fix the problem. In replies, Justin Cooper suggested the problem could be with AT&T’s wireless network and suggested she use an iPhone instead. Nowhere in the chain does Clinton say anything that contradicts her sworn testimony.
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler debunked claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and right-wing media that the FBI and State Department engaged in a “quid pro quo” in order for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to face less scrutiny for her use of a private email server as secretary of state. Kessler asserted “there is no evidence” of any alleged “collusion” between the two agencies.
Trump and his campaign baselessly claimed that transcripts released by the FBI relating to their investigation into Clinton’s email use show that a top State Department official proposed a “quid pro quo” wherein the FBI would agree to lower the classification level of one of Clinton’s emails if the State Department would agree to allow the posting of more FBI officals in Iraq. Right-wing media asserted that the FBI documents “bolster Donald Trump’s criticism of corruption.” The same flawed analysis made its way to mainstream media and GOP lawmakers, who are using it to call for a State Department official to be fired. But as NBC’s Andrea Mitchell pointed out, there “was no quid pro quo, there was no linkage” and “there was nothing at all nefarious” that happened between the two agencies. Even the FBI official involved in the alleged collusion disputed the pejorative characterization of the interaction, telling The Washington Post it is “a reach.”
In the October 19 fact-check, Kessler explained that “‘quid pro quo’ was a secondhand description of a conversation — and both people who engaged in the conversation insist there was no collusion. Moreover, there is no evidence that anything happened as a result of the conversation.” Kessler added that summaries of the exchanges between the officials show “that whatever was said in the conversation, nothing happened to change the classification of the emails,” which “certainly undercuts Trump’s claim of ‘collusion.’” From the fact-check:
Trump rushed out a video statement to supporters claiming that there was “collusion” between the State Department, FBI and the Justice Department “to make Hillary Clinton look less guilty” after news reports that an FBI official spoke of a “quid pro quo” between the FBI and State regarding the classification status of some of Clinton’s emails.
“Quid pro quo” certainly sounds bad. But as more information has come in, there’s much less to the story than Trump claims.
The statement about “quid pro quo” comes from an FBI summary of an interview (known as a 302) with a third, unidentified FBI official during the criminal investigation of Clinton’s private email account. But there are other interviews as well, including with [then-FBI director for international operations Brian] McCauley and [then-State Department undersecretary of state for administration Patrick] Kennedy. Moreover, even the summaries with the unnamed official shows that whatever was said in the conversation, nothing happened to change the classification of the emails.
That certainly undercuts Trump’s claim of “collusion.”
To sum up, “quid pro quo” was a secondhand description of a conversation — and both people who engaged in the conversation insist there was no collusion. Moreover, there is no evidence that anything happened as a result of the conversation. The FBI did not back down from its contention that the email should to labeled as classified.
FBI Agent Who Discussed Clinton Email Classification With Top State Department Official Debunks Right-Wing Media Smear
In an October 18 interview, a retired FBI official explained to the Washington Post how recent accusations about a “quid pro quo” agreement between the FBI and the Department of State over the classification of a Hillary Clinton email are false.
On October 17, media outlets began reporting on interview transcripts released by the FBI concerning the now-closed FBI investigation into the private email server used by Democratic presidential nominee Clinton while serving as secretary of state.
Based on the transcripts and a previous article in The Weekly Standard that suggested an “attempted Hillary email cover-up,” claims began to circulate that a “quid pro quo” was proposed by government officials where the FBI would agree to lower the classification level of one of Clinton’s emails if the State Department would agree to allow the posting of more FBI agents in Iraq. Although both the FBI and State denied that characterization of events, reporters nonetheless ran with the story, leading to sometimes sloppy reporting.
Furthering the smear about a “Hillary cover-up,” right-wing media claimed that the “quid pro quo” was proposed by a top official at the State Department, Patrick Kennedy, even though the FBI official who spoke to Kennedy indicated in the transcripts that the issue of agents in Iraq was brought up by him, not Kennedy.
The Trump campaign was even blunter, baselessly tweeting “corrruption confirmed.”
Now Brian McCauley, the FBI official who had the conversation with Kennedy and whose name was redacted in the transcripts, has confirmed that there never was a “quid pro quo” proposed by either McCauley or Kennedy. The Post also noted that “There is no evidence that Clinton knew about Kennedy’s and McCauley’s discussion, and McCauley said Kennedy never even invoked Clinton’s name.”
From the October 18 article:
FBI official Brian McCauley had been trying for weeks to get his contact at the State Department to approve his request to put two bureau employees back in Baghdad.
Around May 2015, Patrick Kennedy finally called back.
“He said, ‘Brian. Pat Kennedy. I need a favor,’ ” McCauley recalled in an interview Tuesday. “I said, ‘Good, I need a favor. I need our people back in Baghdad.”
Then Kennedy, a longtime State Department official, explained what he wanted in return: “There’s an email. I don’t believe it has to be classified.”
The email was from Hillary Clinton’s private server, and Kennedy wanted the FBI to change its determination that it contained classified information. McCauley and others ultimately rejected the request, but the interaction — which McCauley said lasted just minutes over maybe two conversations — has become the latest focal point of the bitter 2016 presidential campaign. The Democratic candidate’s critics have suggested that the conversation between the State Department and the FBI demonstrated inappropriate collusion to benefit Clinton.
In an hour-long interview with The Washington Post, his first public comments on the matter, McCauley acknowledged that he offered to do a favor in exchange for another favor, but before he had any inkling of what Kennedy wanted. The FBI and the State Department have denied that McCauley and Kennedy ever engaged in a “quid pro quo.”
McCauley, who has since retired from the FBI, said he asked Kennedy to send him the email in question and then inquired with another bureau official about it because he had only a partial understanding of the request. McCauley said that when he learned the missive concerned the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, he told Kennedy he could not help him.
“I said, ‘Absolutely not, I can’t help you,’ and he took that, and it was fine,” said McCauley, who was the FBI’s deputy assistant director for international operations from 2012 to 2015.
McCauley said in an interview that when he agreed to look into the matter, he “was just being kind and polite.” And he said “there was no contingency” binding his looking into the email classification to Kennedy’s agreeing to approve his request for FBI personnel in Iraq.
“He had a request. I found out what the request was for. I absolutely said emphatically I would not support it,” McCauley said.
But one of his colleagues at the FBI’s records division told investigators that McCauley relayed his conversation with Kennedy in a way that suggested Kennedy had offered a “quid pro quo,” according to a summary of that official’s interview. McCauley disputed that characterization.
“That’s a reach,” McCauley said. “I said, ‘Hey, what is this about?’ ”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and other Republicans are trying to use newly released FBI documents from the agency’s closed investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state to generate a scandal around a purported “quid pro quo” between the FBI and State Department, raising new issues for political journalists who have records of getting the facts wrong on email stories. In one such case, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post’s The Fix politics blog made a series of missteps regarding who issued the proposed “quid pro quo,” whether it occurred, and the meaning of a classification marking.
The New York Post editorial board claimed that the Clinton Foundation “isn’t even denying” the claim that foundation donors got “special treatment” from Hillary Clinton’s State Department during the response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. But the story the editorial cites as evidence quotes the chairman of the Foundation’s board explicitly saying that donors received “no special treatment.”
The editorial board writes:
Long-secret e-mails just caught Team Hillary in another blatant lie — namely, the claim that Clinton Foundation donors got no special treatment from Clinton’s State Department. In fact, ABC’s “case study” of the 2010 Haiti-relief feeding frenzy may be the most damning foundation scoop yet.
And the foundation isn’t even denying it.
ABC News got the e-mails via a Freedom of Information lawsuit. They show that, after the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, a top Hillary aide repeatedly gave special attention to “Friends of Bill” looking to cash in.
The Post is lying. The ABC News story the paper links to does include a denial of the claim that donors received special treatment:
Bruce Lindsey, the chairman of the board of the Clinton Foundation, told ABC News in a written statement that “no special treatment was expected or given.”
“This was a time of dire need, and we mobilized our network and wanted to make sure that any help offered was put to good use,” Lindsey said. “Many had been involved in disaster response before, in New Orleans after Katrina or after the tsunami, and again sought to help.”
In his October 11 press briefing, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department had reviewed the issue and found “no evidence that preferential treatment was given to any particular entity or organization with respect to contracts” with regard to Haiti:
QUESTION: There’s a report that just came out a little while ago, an ABC report based on the – some emails. And I haven’t had a chance to read it closely enough yet to know if it actually makes the allegation or just suggests that there might have been – there might be some impropriety. So let me just ask the question that I think it hints at: What’s – in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, did the department give preference to people or companies that donated – that had donated to the Clinton Foundation in terms of contracts to help Haiti recover from the earthquake?
MR KIRBY: No, we looked into this with this – when ABC was working this story. We found no evidence that preferential treatment was given to any particular entity or organization with respect to contracts.
QUESTION: So in other words, you’re saying that although these emails show that people were flagged as being friends of the former president or their companies were – they – your – you looked – your review found that that didn’t actually translate into any favoritism?
MR KIRBY: Right, right. In preparing our response for that story, we looked into that and didn’t find any evidence that preferential treatment or – in a – for contracts was given.
QUESTION: All right.
MR KIRBY: But I don’t think it should – with President Clinton being the – designated by the United Nations as a special envoy for Haiti, I don’t think it would come as a shock to anybody that the people associated with or friends of him or the Clinton Foundation would also in a time of great need want to contribute. But I see no evidence of any preferential or special treatment.
Minutes After Catherine Herridge Supports Trump’s Claim Of “Collusion” In DOJ Investigation, Andrew Napolitano Explains That She And Trump Are Wrong
Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano debunked Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claim that a stolen email from a Clinton campaign staffer showed “collusion” in the Justice Department’s investigation into Clinton’s use of private email during her time as secretary of state, just minutes after Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge supported Trump’s claim.
After an NBC News reporter drew attention to stolen emails belonging to Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon, which were released by WikiLeaks, Trump’s campaign charged that one of the emails “reveals ‘collusion’ between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Justice Department that tainted the criminal investigation into Clinton’s private email set-up.” The email in question, dated May 19, 2015, states: "DOJ folks inform me there is a status hearing in this case this morning, so we could have a window into the judge's thinking about this proposed production schedule as quickly as today." As Politico explained about an hour before the Fox segments, Fallon’s message “predates that probe.”
Despite the impossibility of the Trump campaign’s claim, Fox’s Herridge repeated the claim. Appearing on Your World, Herridge said, “[T]here's another hacked email that shows former Justice Department staffer Brian Fallon, who is now a senior member of the Clinton campaign team, was working with his former Justice Department colleagues about an upcoming hearing in the email investigation.” She continued, “Trump's campaign called it collusion and wants all the communications to be released from the Clinton campaign. That's obviously not realistic, but for a point of context, at the height of the email investigation, any kind of communication between the Clinton campaign operatives and the Justice Department was clearly inappropriate by either side.”
But just six minutes after Herridge’s irresponsible and erroneous assertions about that email, Fox’s Napolitano explained that both she and Trump were wrong:
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: You know, the email that we're talking about has to do with the Freedom of Information Act cases, and not with the criminal investigation. If Donald Trump's allegation were true, and the Justice Department had been tipping off the Clinton campaign about the criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton, that tip itself would be a crime, but that's not what the emails that Catherine Herridge was referencing reveal. In fact, those emails were about the Freedom of Information Act cases, which are civil cases, which anyone can get access to. So I don't see the impropriety here that Trump is concerned about.
Herridge made sure to note the date of Fallon’s email, but she neglected to inform Fox’s audience that the email was sent two months before the FBI’s investigation began -- making her concern about improper communications in support of the Trump campaign’s claim completely baseless. Herridge has a long history of getting details of the investigation into Clinton’s use of email wrong, thanks to her tendency to rely on anonymous sources that end up burning her.
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Many right-wing pundits praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s pledge to “instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor” to “jail” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server, a threat mainstream journalists compared to what “dictators” do in a “banana republic.” Yet conservatives’ support for Trump’s planned abuses of governmental power is particularly hypocritical given that during the FBI and Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Clinton’s email use, right-wing media claimed the agencies were “politicized” and “corrupt.” It seems that a politicized Justice Department is fine so long as it achieves the right’s political goals.
During the second presidential debate, Trump warned Clinton, “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” adding that she “would be in jail” under his administration.
Trump’s “unprecedented” threat was in line with what “dictators” do in “banana republics,” many journalists noted. CNN’s Dana Bash warned that Trump’s comments parallel the sorts of things “dictators and totalitarian leaders” like “Stalin or Hitler” did.
Yet conservative pundits cheered Trump’s dangerous attack with alacrity. Fox News host Steve Doocy called the threat “amazing,” Fox contributor Scott Brown cheered the line as a “home run,” and CNN’s Kayleigh McEnany applauded the threat as “a humorous line of retort.” Bill O'Reilly dubbed the attack "the smartest thing [Trump] did all night," and Trump ally and dirty trickster Roger Stone said Trump “scored.”
Aside from aligning themselves with a pledge hinting at serious abuses of governmental power, the right-wing are highlighting their double standard for the integrity of democratic institutions. Conservatives led a full-throated, but baseless, crusade against the FBI, DOJ, and the White House after FBI Director James Comey recommended that the DOJ not indict Clinton following the investigation related to her use of a private email server.
Right-wing pundits attacked the FBI and DOJ for their “disregard for the rule of law” and claimed the decision is evidence that “the government is corrupt.” They asserted that the “highly politicized” DOJ is “no longer … an effective, impartial enforcer of the law” and instead is allowing “corruption [to] fester and grow.” Conservatives even attacked President Obama for endorsing Clinton amid the FBI investigation, claiming that his support revealed “a man who sees the Constitution as an impediment to be disregarded.”
That conservatives attacked the FBI and DOJ for allegedly flouting the law after they failed to deliver the desired result -- a Clinton indictment that would land her in jail -- but openly cheer Trump’s dictatorial threat to jail a political opponent reveals that politics eclipse the law in the right’s quest for power. Though right-wing calls for Clinton to be jailed are not new on the campaign trail, the embrace of Trump’s newest threat has lifted the veil on the right’s hypocrisy in terms of respecting the rule of law.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly used debunked right-wing myths to claim there is “enough evidence of corruption in the Justice Department” to warrant appointing an “independent prosecutor” for the FBI and the DOJ, citing the closed investigation relating to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state, and the long-debunked IRS targeting pseudo-scandal. The allegation of corruption from O’Reilly comes despite his previous praise of FBI Director James Comey during the investigation relating to Clinton’s email use.
During the October 6 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly asked if “a major scandal” will “erupt in the Department of Justice,” claiming “[m]any Americans, including this one, now believe the fix was in regarding investigations into the IRS hammering some right-wing groups, and the Clinton email fiasco.” He then claimed “there is now enough evidence of corruption in the Justice Department that an independent prosecutor should be appointed,” though he didn’t specify what should be investigated.
To back up his claim of corruption, O’Reilly played clips from Congressional hearings about immunity deals that Clinton aides received in connection with the FBI investigation. But the immunity deals were limited and were necessary to resolve interagency disputes on what information contained in the Clinton email server should be retroactively classified, and Director Comey explained during the hearing that it “is a fairly normal tool in investigations.”
O’Reilly also alleged there was corruption regarding the investigation into the IRS allegedly targeting right-wing organizations, complaining that then-IRS head Lois Lerner "was never really held legally accountable." But a congressional investigation revealed that progressive groups were also subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as conservative groups, evidence which Fox News itself ignored when it first came to light. And months before that, in June 2013, the congressional investigation found the culprit behind the increased scrutiny of organizations applying for tax-exempt status: not Lois Lerner, but a Cincinnati-based IRS manager who told investigators that he “instructed his team of screeners” to look for cases of political-sounding groups applying for tax-exempt status, and that “he took this action on his own.”
O’Reilly brought on American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow and the Clinton-obsessed Judicial Watch’s Chris Fedeli to bolster his claims of corruption. After he made the introduction, O’Reilly admitted that he “supported Director Comey” at the beginning of the email investigation and “thought he would do an honest investigation,” but “now, I do not believe the investigation was honest.” But Sekulow also praised Comey as “a man of principle” and “a serious guy.” O’Reilly previously described Comey as “an honest man” and said he “trusts” Comey.
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House Republicans are selectively pushing new information that long-time Clinton aide Cheryl Mills was granted a limited form of immunity in the now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Right-wing media have seized on these efforts to falsely claim the immunity was broad and stands as proof of criminal wrongdoing, while ignoring the reasons for why the limited immunity was recommended by both the FBI and Mills’ attorney.
In just two days, broadcast news networks devoted more than three times as much airtime to baselessly scandalizing a flawed Associated Press (AP) report on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton than covering a story about an illegal donation by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The AP piece examined meetings Clinton took with Clinton Foundation donors as secretary of state, while the Trump story centered on an illegal donation he made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
In the two days after the AP report was published, the broadcast news networks ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted 19 minutes and 10 seconds to covering the flawed August 23 report -- which dubiously hyped “possible ethics challenges” on behalf of Clinton. The same networks devoted merely six minutes of coverage to Trump’s illegal donation to Pam Bondi in the week following the revelation.
In the report, the AP claimed that “More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money -- either personally or through companies or groups -- to the Clinton Foundation.” Journalists and media critics widely derided the report for "ignoring well over 1,000 official meetings with foreign leaders and an unknown number of meetings with domestic US officials" Clinton held at the State Department. Some in the media -- including broadcast and cable networks -- nonetheless hyped the report for the “breathtaking” and “disturbing” “optics,” even though the report found “no evidence” of “ethics breaches.” Despite the backlash, the AP issued a statement claiming it was “transparent in how it has reported this story.”
The Washington Post reported on September 1 that the Trump Foundation paid the IRS a penalty after he illegally donated to a campaign group in 2013 for the re-election of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The Post explained that Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty for “violat[ing] tax laws” with his donation. Bondi personally solicited the donation from Trump around the same time her office was considering joining the New York attorney general’s fraud investigation against Trump University. Shortly after Bondi received Trump’s donation, she decided not to join the case. Cable news hosts called the episode “ugly” and “a classic example” of pay-to-play politics.
The Trump Foundation’s donation is also yet another example of Trump’s history of “breaking campaign finance laws” and “evading” legal donation limits, as CNN’s Jeff Zeleny explained. The New York Times wrote that Trump’s donation to Bondi was part of his “decades-long record of shattering political donation limits and circumventing the rules governing contributions and lobbying.”
Media Matters searched Nexis and SnapStream for coverage of Donald Trump's donation to Pam Bondi between September 1, 2016, and September 7, 2016, on CBS, NBC, and ABC's morning, evening, and Sunday news programs using the terms: "Trump AND Bondi." Media Matters searched SnapStream for coverage of the AP report on meetings Clinton took with Clinton Foundation donors between August 24, 2016, and August 25, 2016, on CBS, NBC, and ABC’s morning and evening news programs using the terms: “Clinton OR Clinton Foundation.”
Fox News is hyping congressional Republicans’ attempt to set up more hearings into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of private email, even after the FBI determined there was no basis for charges of wrongdoing. Citing the FBI's recently released report on its concluded investigation, Fox baselessly suggested there is proof that Clinton ordered the improper deletion of work-related emails after she was instructed by Congress to preserve them.