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Paul Waldmann Watches as Washington's Press Corps Once Again Fails to Do Its Job...

It's going to be eighteenth months of an unprofessional media clown show again, isn't it?

Paul Waldmann: Back to basic facts in latest Hillary Clinton ‘scandal’ story :

What’s the allegation against Hillary Clinton? The reason this is a story is the potential that there was some quid pro quo involved: that in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and/or the speech Bill Clinton gave in Russia, Hillary Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to make approval of this sale happen. It need not be explicit, but at the very least there has to be a connection between donations and official action that Clinton took.

What’s the evidence for that allegation? There isn’t any....

What’s the evidence in Clinton’s favor? Even if Clinton had wanted to make sure the sale was approved, it wouldn’t have been possible for her to do it on her own. CFIUS is made up of not only the Secretary of State, but also the secretaries of Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, Defense, and Energy, as well as the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Labor are non-voting members, and CFIUS’s work is also observed by representatives of other agencies like the National Security Council and the Office of Management and Budget. The idea that Clinton could have convinced all those officials and all those departments to change their position on the sale, even if she had wanted to, borders on the absurd.

Furthermore, the official who was the State Department’s representative on CFIUS at the time, Jose Hernandez, told Time magazine that Clinton did not participate in the evaluation of this deal: ‘Secretary Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter,’ he said.

So in this case, we have no evidence of a quid pro quo, and we don’t have evidence that Hillary Clinton took any action at all with regard to this sale, in favor of the interests of the donors or otherwise. In interviews, Schweitzer has referred repeated to ‘dozens of examples’ and ‘a pattern’ in which donations are made to the foundation and official action by Hillary Clinton occurs thereafter. His book hasn’t come out, so we don’t yet know what he’s referring to, but in the uranium case, there doesn’t appear to be any official action Hillary Clinton took one way or another. Schweitzer was pressed on that point yesterday by both Chris Wallace and George Stephanopoulos, and he gave essentially the same answer both times. Here’s what he said on Fox News Sunday:

Well, here’s what’s important to keep in mind: it was one of nine agencies, but any one of those agencies had veto power. So, she could have stopped the deal.  So, what’s interesting about this, of all those nine agencies, who was the most hawkish on these types of issues? Hillary Clinton.

So the alleged wrongdoing isn’t that Clinton helped the people who gave donations to the foundation, it’s that she failed to oppose them, something that the secretaries of defense, treasury, and all the other agencies also failed to do, with or without donations to foundations controlled by members of their families. Schweitzer repeatedly compared Clinton to former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who was convicted of corruption, and Sen. Bob Menendez, who is currently under indictment, arguing that in those cases there also wasn’t direct evidence of a quid pro quo. But in those cases there were specific acts that the officials took in support of the person who had lavished gifts on them. In this case, Schweizer’s criticism of Clinton rests on the fact that she failed to intervene in the sale, and came to the same conclusion about it as the heads of eight other agencies did.