By the end of last week, the Hillary Clinton camp was acting as if they had weathered the worst of the Clinton Cash scandal and emerged unscathed. While polls showed that trust in Hillary and belief in her truthfulness was heading south, support from the overwhelming majority of Democrats remained strong. She also maintained leads in head-to-head matchups against possible Republican opponents. But in spite of these reasons for confidence that the Clinton brand can survive — as it has before — virtually anything, their bold talk about no one believing the book isn’t convincing anyone. The drip, drip, drip of scandal stories from a variety of news outlets inspired by Peter Schweizer’s muckraking book has kept the allegations in the news rather than it fading away. As a result, the Clinton “War Room” that has been assembled to trash Schweitzer and dismiss the book is starting to show the initial signs of panic. When longtime Clinton family retainer Lanny Davis called the book and those exploring its charges an example of “McCarthyism” during an appearance on C-Span, it was clear that Hillary’s friends have officially jumped the shark in their efforts to silence the nation’s unease about the former First Family’s conduct.
The context of Davis’s rant is the fact that even after weeks of news organizations seeking new Clinton Cash angles to explore, it appears they aren’t close to running out of material. Over the weekend, Politico began to unravel the complicated ties between Bill Clinton’s speechmaking business and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. According to their reporting, State Department officials vetted some of the former president’s speeches. While that isn’t evidence of criminal conduct, it does show how closely connected Hillary’s staff was to Bill’s fundraising and speaking business affairs, something her defenders routinely deny. And while questions remain about the Clinton’s involvement in the egregious sale of 20 percent of the country’s uranium reserves to Russia, a lot of reporting about their dubious role in vetting disaster relief for Haiti and the way Hillary’s brother profited from their work was being dug up by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
Just as bad for the Clintons is the reporting that the liberal New York magazine is doing about their foundation’s unsuccessful attempt to get the watchdog group Charity Navigator to endorse their efforts. The group has refused to rate the Clinton Foundation as trustworthy because of its “unique business model” which has it raising hundreds of millions of dollars but only spending about ten percent of it on actual charity. The foundation works as a middle man that spends most of the vast fortune placed at its disposal paying for people to consult about helping the poor but never doing much of it itself. It can’t be called a scam because donors know they are paying for influence not charity. But the more people find out about how the foundation is less of an actual charity and more of a slush fund to pay for the Clintons to crisscross the globe talking about poverty the lower Hillary’s trust poll numbers will go.
But faced with these hits to the Clintons’ image, their defenders are predictably escalating their rhetoric. But just for a moment, let’s unpack the charges Davis has lodged against Schweitzer. Like other Clinton Cash critics, Davis kept repeating that there are no “facts” in the book. But this is absurd. The book is full of facts about the suspicious donations to the foundation and huge honorariums paid to Bill Clinton from foreign donors who had business before the State Department while Hillary was running it. What Schweitzer doesn’t have is a smoking gun memo or email that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Clintons colluded to give the people funding their family business the advantages they were seeking. Of course, Clinton opponents might say that such evidence might be in those emails that were on the server she had wiped clean. But even if we assume that they were too smart to ever commit anything like that to an email, let alone paper, that leaves critics with a circumstantial case to make against the pair that might get other politicians in trouble with the law (like Senator Robert Menendez whose favors for a wealthy friend look fishy and earned him an indictment but for which there is a similar lack of a smoking gun memo).
Davis claims that the fact that one cannot connect some very suspicious dots with the sort of certainty you could use in court is McCarthyism. But this makes no sense. It is true that Senator Joseph McCarthy was often irresponsible and made false charges that some public figures were communists. But the presumption of innocence on official charges of corruption does not mean that it is impermissible to note the tremendous conflicts of interest that were a daily affair while Hillary was at the State Department. Nor does it vindicate the questionable behavior of the foundation and the former president. Suffice it to say that were any Republican to be caught exposed in this manner, Davis and every other Democrats would be screaming bloody murder and demanding special prosecutors and indictments.
If Hillary and Bill want to put this to rest they can try answering some tough questions from the press instead of merely dismissing the issue as another invention of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” they have always hated (even though much of the reporting about this has come from the New York Times and other liberal bastions). Until then, they should tell their mouthpieces to stop foaming at the mouth. It’s only making them look guiltier.