Peter Schweizer

Tags ››› Peter Schweizer
  • Echoing Trump, Fox Casts Doubt On FBI's Probe Into Clinton's Emails

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox News personalities are echoing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, which claimed that the FBI would not have been able to “review 650,000 emails in eight days” to cast doubt on the bureau’s probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. However, experts point out that the FBI is able to do so using technology such as “automated search and filtering tools.”

  • The FBI Was Basing A Potential Clinton Foundation Case On This Garbage Right-Wing Book

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The FBI was reportedly trying to build an investigation into the Clinton Foundation around claims made in a right-wing book riddled with errors written by a Republican activist with a history of bogus reporting. The author’s organization is headed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign chief executive and is funded by one of Trump’s top campaign supporters.

    The FBI in August was considering whether to expand investigations into both Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s “secretive business dealings in Ukraine” and Democratic presidential nominee “Hillary Clinton’s relationships with donors to her family foundation,” but, following longstanding precedent, decided not to proceed for fear of impacting the election, according to The New York Times. The paper further reported that the Clinton Foundation inquiry “had not developed much evidence and was based mostly on information that had surfaced in news stories and the book ‘Clinton Cash,’ according to several law enforcement officials briefed on the case.”

    Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich is a 2015 book authored by Peter Schweizer, a Republican activist and consultant who has worked for Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Breitbart News.

    Schweizer has a disreputable history of reporting marked by errors and retractions, with numerous reporters excoriating him for facts that "do not check out," sources that "do not exist," and a basic failure to practice "Journalism 101." Clinton Cash is similarly a trainwreck of bogus research that included more than 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions, according to a Media Matters review. On the campaign trail, Trump has pushed conspiracy theories from the book, leading reporters to note that the book has been “discredited” and features “lies” and claims that “fell apart under scrutiny.”

    Schweizer is also the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a right-wing group that purports to investigate “government corruption.” Stephen Bannon, who is taking a leave of absence from his role as chief executive of Breitbart News to serve the same role with the Trump campaign, is also the executive chairman and co-founder of GAI. The group has been heavily funded by the Mercer Family Foundation, which is run by Rebekah Mercer.

    Mercer’s father, the hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, is one of the nation’s largest Republican donors and a major investor in Breitbart News, and the father and daughter were reportedly key to Bannon’s ascension to a leading role in the Trump campaign. Robert Mercer has also donated millions to a pro-Trump super PAC that Rebekah Mercer controls.

    UPDATE: Schweizer disclosed during an August Fox News appearance that "earlier this year at [the FBI's] request," he had met with "two people from the bureau to talk about some things related to the Clinton Foundation, specifically things that were in Clinton Cash." From the August 24 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

  • Mike Pence Runs With Conservative Media Lie About Clinton Foundation’s Charitable Spending

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence ran with the lie that the Clinton Foundation has only devoted 10 percent of its funds to charitable causes. Pence’s figure, which has been frequently used by conservative media figures throughout the campaign, is wildly inaccurate: fact-checkers have concluded that the charity devotes 80-90 percent of money to charitable causes, and charity watchdogs have given the foundation high ratings.

    During the October 4 debate, Pence claimed twice that “less than 10 cents on the dollar in the Clinton Foundation has gone to charitable causes.” Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine responded, “90 percent.” Debate moderator Elaine Quijano did not respond to the exchange.

    Pence’s statistic is false.

    PolitiFact wrote that the “Clinton Foundation spends between 80-90 percent on program services, which experts say is the standard in the industry to define charitable works. It spends the majority of its money directly on projects rather than through third-party grants.”

    FactCheck.org similarly found that the claim that the Clinton Foundation only spends a small portion of its money on charitable works is “simply wrong.” It wrote that “One independent philanthropy watchdog did an analysis of Clinton Foundation funding and concluded that about 89 percent of its funding went to charity.”

    Pence’s 10 percent statistic was popularized by author Peter Schweizer, who wrote the error-riddled book Clinton Cash. Trump and his campaign have repeatedly touted Schweizer’s work.

    Claims that the Clinton Foundation gave a small percentage of its funds to charitable works have been echoed throughout the conservative media. For instance:

    • Rush Limbaugh claimed that "85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff to pay for travel, salaries, and benefits. Fifteen cents of every dollar actually went to some charitable beneficiary."

    • Fox Business host Gerri Willis claimed only 6 percent of the foundation's 2013 revenue "went to help people."

    • Fox News co-host Eric Bolling said that "only 10 cents on the dollar went to charitable uses, causes."

    • Fox News host Jeanine Pirro said of the Clinton Foundation: “It is not a charitable foundation. No charitable foundation has only 10 percent that goes to a charity.”

    Further undermining Pence’s claims, two leading foundation watchdogs -- Charity Navigator and CharityWatch -- have given the Clinton Foundation high marks.

    CharityWatch President Daniel Borochoff told CNN of the Clinton Foundation: “They have good governance and accountability. They have great financial efficiency. They have valuable, important programs that help a lot of people in the world. Pull the politics out. Regardless of what you think about Hillary, the Clinton Foundation is an excellent charity.”

  • Clinton-Obsessed Judicial Watch Hosts Discredited Conspiracy Theorists To Push New Misinformation

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Conservative anti-Clinton group Judicial Watch announced a “special panel presentation” promising a “scandal update” on the Clinton Foundation and the emails of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Judicial Watch, itself a hub for baseless smears against the Clintons, invited to the panel two discredited Clinton conspiracy theorists known for making claims based on “bogus” data.

  • Days After Breitbart Exec. Becomes Head Of His Campaign, Trump Calls For Clinton Foundation Special Prosecutor

    Trump’s Call For Special Prosecutor Premised On Baseless Lies Promoted By Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Donald Trump called for a special prosecutor to conduct an “expedited investigation” into the Clinton Foundation, just days after former Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon was named chief executive of Trump’s campaign. Bannon helped spread the baseless smears hyped in the discredited Clinton Cash book that Trump is now lifting his attacks from.

    Trump said during an August 22 campaign rally that “an expedited investigation by a Special Prosecutor” into the Clinton Foundation -- specifically into claims of “coordination between the pay-for-play State Department and the corrupt Clinton Foundation” -- is required because the FBI and Department of Justice “certainly cannot be trusted to quickly or impartially investigate Hillary Clinton’s crimes.”

    Trump’s demand for a special prosecutor comes less than a week after Trump hired former Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen Bannon as the campaign’s chief executive. Bannon -- who ran Breitbart as a propaganda arm of the Trump campaign -- has long led a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation with discredited and false attacks.

    After Breitbart editor-at-large Peter Schweizer wrote the error-filled Clinton Cash -- which made a series of baseless allegations of corruption and quid pro quo by the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton -- Bannon wrote and produced the accompanying documentary film. Bannon is also the executive chairman and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, which Schweizer is president of.

    Among the discredited attacks that Trump has adopted from Bannon and Schweizer’s smear campaign include claims that Clinton “signed off” on a Russian uranium deal that led to “millions of dollars in donations” to the Clinton Foundation. That conspiracy has been widely discredited, and Schweizer himself admitted he had no "direct evidence" proving Clinton intervened on the issue.

    Trump also echoed Bannon and Schweizer’s evidence-free claim that an Iranian telecommunications company escaped sanctions from Clinton while secretary of state because it paid Bill Clinton for a speech.

    It is no surprise that Trump is infusing Bannon’s shoddy anti-Clinton attacks with his own campaign, given the close-knit relationship Trump has had with Breitbart during his campaign.

  • GOP Lawmakers Latch Onto Fox’s Unsubstantiated Claims About A Clinton Foundation Investigation

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    GOP lawmakers reportedly circulated a letter requesting several federal agencies investigate the Clinton Foundation, parroting “unresolved media reports” to allege that the nonprofit was a “lawless ‘pay to play’ enterprise.” This latest move echoes months of unsubstantiated assertions from Fox News that the foundation was already under investigation for supposed abuses during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

  • The Discredited Books At The Heart Of Trump's Speech

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Donald Trump cited claims from two discredited anti-Clinton books -- Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash and Gary Byrne’s Crisis of Character -- in his June 22 speech attacking Hillary Clinton. Clinton Cash is filled with errors and sloppy research, while Crisis of Character has been strongly denounced by Secret Service veterans as implausible.

  • The Breitbart Team Turned An Anti-Clinton Smear Book Into A Terrible Documentary

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The upcoming anti-Clinton documentary Clinton Cash largely rehashes the shoddily-researched conspiracies from the 2015 book on which it’s based.

    Media Matters attended a screening of the film Thursday in New York City ahead of its release. Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon – who co-wrote and co-produced the film -- were on hand to promote it to an audience that included Fox News personalities Bill Hemmer and Brian Kilmeade. 

    When the book -- which largely pushes the evidence-free claim that while serving as secretary of state, Clinton did favors for foreign entities that donated to the Clinton Foundation -- was published last year, Schweizer, a Republican activist with a history of factual problems, was criticized by Media Matters and other outlets for a series of sloppy errors. Some of the errors were later corrected in the Kindle version of the book. 

    Clinton Cash also heavily relied on innuendo in the absence of solid proof for its central allegation that the Clintons have traded favors for money. As Slate writer Jamelle Bouie put it, “Peter Schweizer’s attack on the Clintons leads with his conclusions and never connects the dots.”

    The film has many of the same factual problems. For example, a key accusation lobbed at the Clinton Foundation in the film in order to undermine the idea that it does important charitable work is the claim that only “10 percent” of its donations actually go to charity.

    Schweizer repeatedly relied on this talking point while on the Clinton Cash book tour last year, claiming that other than the 10 percent the Clinton Foundation gives to “other charitable organizations, the rest they keep for themselves.”

    But the “10 percent” statistic is deceptive -- even Fox News labeled it “incredibly misleading.” Network correspondent Eric Shawn explained in a report last year that the Clinton Foundation doesn’t “give grants to other charities. They do most of it themselves." He also cited IRS figures indicating the foundation has a "rate of spending of about 80 percent" and "experts for charity say that's very good.”

    The film uses big headlines and grainy news clips to paint the Clintons as being in the pocket of anyone who pays for a speech or donates to the Clinton Foundation, but still fails to connect the dots with substantial evidence.

    “You have money coming at certain times and then you have policy decisions that are made that affect the people that sent the money, then people are left to the question: is this all coincidence or is this a case of follow the money,” Schweizer told Media Matters after the screening. “I just don’t believe it’s coincidence.”

    The film doesn't feature interviews with sources or people with direct knowledge of the events that Clinton Cash claims prove a quid pro quo arrangement. 

    “That was intentional,” Schweizer said about the missing outside voices. “We simply wanted to narrate the stories as they came through and explain to people how it rolled out. We didn’t want it to be talking head.” 

    Following the screening, Bannon said the film is going to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, and that the producers are “in discussions with people approaching us to get this out before the [Democratic] convention.”

    Bannon added, “We may cut a TV deal with a broadcast or a cable network like Yahoo or Netflix, we are in discussion with people to get this out to a broader audience.” He later joked, “We’re open for bids right after this.”

    He said the movie “cost a couple million bucks” to make, but did not elaborate on the funding sources.

    Schweizer claimed the documentary is not designed to just throw “red meat” out to a conservative audience, instead suggesting the filmmakers are trying to dissuade people outside the Republican party from supporting Hillary Clinton. 

     “This is really designed to appeal to people in general, who may not know much about how the Clintons have operated,” Schweizer said. ”You can have a business model that says ‘let’s throw red meat out there that make a lot of money,’ or you can create a documentary film that’s designed to inform people who may not necessarily agree with your point of view and get that information out.”

    When Bannon was asked by an audience member about the reaction to the book, he turned defensive, claiming the mainstream media was ignoring the findings. He also criticized the Democratic primary debate panelists for not raising any of the issues in the debates.

    “12 to 14 debates, 35 to 40 hours of prime time debates, not one question about anything in this film,” Bannon said. “That’s an indictment on the mainstream media and that’s an indictment of everybody who had a debate.”

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has recently indicated that he plans to use the claims from Clinton Cash in a likely general election matchup with Clinton. In an interview with Breitbart News this week – where Schweizer also serves as senior editor-at-large – Trump called the Clinton Cash book “amazing” and said he is sure the movie “will be good” because of Bannon’s involvement.

    Breitbart News has faced widespread criticism over the past year for its Trump cheerleading. Last year, Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins reported that “many” people inside Breitbart “believe Trump has provided undisclosed financial backing to the outlet in exchange for glowing coverage.” (Bannon called the allegation “a lie.”)

    After the screening, Schweizer said Trump and his campaign had “zero” involvement with the film, and said that because of his role as president of the non-profit Government Accountability Institute, “we are not allowed to do that.” 

    When asked what he thought of the reaction the book got and if he was disappointed with all of the criticism, Schweizer said, “I think we got good media coverage. Some people in your organization have disagreements on some of these matters, the interpretations."

    Media Matters’ fact check of Schweizer’s book can be read here