Horowitz, FrontPageMag misrepresented CREW statement on Foley emails to suggest "obstruction of justice"
Research ››› ››› JOSH KALVEN
In a press release alleging possible "criminal obstruction of justice" in the Mark Foley scandal, David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com claimed that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it has held "incriminating e-mails revealing Foley's sexual misconduct since at least July 2006." In fact, CREW has explicitly stated that it both received the emails and sent them to the FBI on the same day in July.
In an October 9 press release, right-wing activist David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com alleged that the non-profit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) "may have engaged in criminal obstruction of justice" in the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley. The release specifically claimed that CREW announced at an October 2 press conference "that it had been holding incriminating e-mails revealing Foley's sexual misconduct since at least July 2006" [emphasis added]. FrontPageMag further asserted that "FBI investigators have accused" CREW of holding the emails "since at least April 2006 -- months before CREW alerted the FBI of their existence." But the FrontPageMag release misrepresented CREW's announcement. CREW did not say that it has had the emails since "at least" July 2006: it has said consistently that it received the emails on July 21, 2006, and sent the evidence to the FBI that same day.
Moreover, while the release noted that "CREW has accused the FBI of lying" and described the group as pitted against "America's top federal law enforcement agency," it failed to make clear that the dispute concerns allegations made by unnamed officials -- not the agency itself.
Published on Horowitz's FrontPageMag weblog, the press release suggested that CREW may have received the Foley emails in April 2006, an allegation first reported in an October 6 Washington Post article. From the release:
A leftist group with strong ties to the Democratic Party and to radical billionaire George Soros may have engaged in criminal obstruction of justice in the Foley case. FBI investigators have accused the group CREW of concealing evidence of Rep. Mark Foley's sexual misconduct over a period of several months.
At a press conference on Monday, October 2, CREW announced that it had been holding incriminating e-mails revealing Foley's sexual misconduct since at least July 2006. CREW said it turned these e-mails over to the FBI in July, but the FBI failed to act.
The FBI counters that CREW provided only edited versions of the e-mails, and refused to surrender the unedited originals. Investigators say that CREW refuses to divulge where it got the e-mails, and may have been holding them since at least April 2006 -- months before CREW alerted the FBI of their existence.
In response, CREW has accused the FBI of lying, thus pitting George Soros' Shadow Party against America's top federal law enforcement agency, in a head-on confrontation.
FrontPageMag's principal allegation -- that CREW might have sat on the emails for as long as three months -- is buttressed by its own misrepresentation of CREW's statement, suggesting that CREW has been vague about when it received the emails. Contrary to FrontPageMag's assertion, CREW did not say it has had the emails since "at least" July -- it has made clear that it received the emails on exactly July 21 and passed them on to the FBI immediately, as it explained in an October 2 press release:
On July 21, 2006 CREW received a set of emails, allegedly from Rep. Foley to a former House page, which it sent to the FBI later that day. The emails, posted at www.citizensforethics.org, asked the page, who had recently left the Hill, his age, how school was going and what he wanted for his birthday. Rep. Foley also requested the boy's photograph.
Moreover, the FBI itself did not put forward the allegation that CREW has held the emails "since at least April 2006," as the release asserted, but rather a single unnamed "law enforcement official." From the October 6 Post article:
One law enforcement official -- speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation -- also told The Washington Post the FBI believed that CREW may have received the e-mails as early as April and that the group refused to tell the FBI how they were obtained.
The Post further noted that the allegations that CREW -- in FrontPageMag's words -- "provided only edited versions of the email" also came from "unidentified Justice and FBI officials" and that a Department of Justice spokesman "declined to comment on that issue." As Media Matters for America has noted, FBI officials have made contradictory assertions about what they did when they received the emails from CREW, undermining the credibility of their accusations against CREW.