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

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.

Judicial Watch To Hold A “Clinton Scandal Update” Panel On “Emails And The Clinton Foundation”

Judicial Watch To Host “Educational Panel Discussion” On The Clinton Foundation, Clinton Emails. Right-wing group Judicial Watch announced a “special panel presentation” they entitled “Clinton Scandal Update – Emails and the Clinton Foundation.” The panel is a response to “the revelations about the pay-to-play scandal” related to Hillary Clinton’s “email system and the Clinton Foundation.” From the September 22 press release:

In response to the revelations about the pay-to-play scandal tied to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email system and the Clinton Foundation, Judicial Watch announced today that it will host an educational panel discussion: “Clinton Scandal Update – Emails and the Clinton Foundation.”

Panelists include the author of the New York Times best-seller Clinton Cash and President of Government Accountability Institute Peter Schweizer; Joe diGenova, former U.S. Attorney, Independent Counsel and founding partner of the Washington, D.C., law firm diGenova & Toensing; and Chris Farrell, director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch. Moderator will be Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. [Judicial Watch, 9/22/16]

Judicial Watch, Schweizer, And diGenova Frequently Peddle Clinton-Related Misinformation

Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch Is A Driving Force In Peddling Baseless Clinton Scandals. As a leading conservative activist group, Judicial Watch has repeatedly pushed a false narrative about Hillary Clinton’s emails to both the right-wing and mainstream press. Records obtained by Judicial Watch are used in the GOP Majority House of Representatives investigations into the Benghazi attacks and Clinton’s email server. Media outlets have also regularly used Judicial Watch’s baseless reports in stories about the Clinton family, often making misleading claims about Democrats and progressives. [Media Matters, 10/2/15]

Judicial Watch Was Founded By A Clinton-Obsessed Conspiracy Theorist. Judicial Watch was founded in 1994 by Larry Klayman who, during the 1990s, filed at least 18 different lawsuits against Bill and Hillary Clinton accusing them of various conspiracies, and hundreds more against multiple governmental agencies, The Washington Post, and even his own mother. As The Week noted in 2013, Klayman pushed a conspiracy theory that “the Clintons orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990s,” which, in various iterations, has been repeated by right-wing media, notably with Trump confidante Roger Stone who accused the Clintons of murdering over 40 people. Klayman also believes President Obama is “our first 'Muslim' president” and “not even a naturalized U.S. citizen and thus is in the United States illegally.” [Media Matters, 3/25/15, 4/12/16]

Judicial Watch Reports Routinely Dupe The Media. Despite Judicial Watch’s long history of questionable information, media outlets regularly turn to them for damaging stories about the Clintons. In August 2016 Judicial Watch claimed that a Clinton Foundation official, Doug Band, emailed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, to allow a Foundation donor to speak to a “substance person” about Lebanon. The media repeated the story, alleging it raised “questions about whether [the Clinton Foundation] worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department.” Judicial Watch and the media ignored the complete lack of evidence that any Clinton Foundation donors ever influenced State Department policy. [Media Matters, 8/10/16]

Peter Schweizer

Peter Schweizer’s Marquee Book Is Filled With Lies And Misinformation. Peter Schweizer, President of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), is also the author of Clinton Cash, a discredited anti-Clinton book often cited by right-wing media that purports to expose the corruption of the Clinton family. Schweizer’s book is filled with 20-plus errors, distortions, and fabrications including a false press release, political double-standards, the omission of key information (to which Schweizer admitted,) and taking quotes “badly out of context.” [Media Matters, 4/30/15, 5/23/16]

Peter Schweizer’s Entire Career Is Full Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing. Peter Schweizer’s career features a long history of sloppy journalism and embarrassing mistakes. In 2005 he falsely accused then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of underpaying workers at a vineyard she owns. In 2012, Schweizer’s GAI claimed President Obama skipped half of his daily intelligence briefings, though The Washington Post Fact-Checker blog reported that GAI’s data was “bogus” and that under Schweizer’s standard, “Republican icon Ronald Reagan skipped his intelligence briefings 99 percent of the time." The Post’s fact-checker gave GAI’s claim “three Pinocchios.” [Media Matters, 4/20/15]

Peter Schweizer’s Lies And Misinformation Have Been Cited By Donald Trump. Schweizer’s error-ridden Clinton Cash has been referenced by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to reinforce his lies about Hillary Clinton. Trump cited the book on June 22 to claim the Clintons personally benefitted from a uranium deal with a Russian company, Uranium One, headed by a Clinton Foundation donor. However, Time magazine noted Schweizer’s conspiracy theory was “based on little evidence.” [Media Matters, 6/20/16, 6/20/16]

Joseph diGenova

Joseph diGenova Was An Early Benghazi Misinformer. In 2013, Joseph diGenova appeared on Fox News with his wife, Victoria Toensing, and alleged the Obama administration was threatening Benghazi whistleblowers to keep quiet. However, by that time Benghazi witnesses had already reportedly testified to the FBI, an independent review board, and spoken to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) regarding the events of September 11, 2012. DiGenova also pushed the falsehood that soldiers were “relieved of their duty because they insisted there be a military response” to the Benghazi attacks, even though a military response was ordered by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. [Media Matters, 4/30/13, 10/29/13]

Joseph diGenova Was Scolded By A Congressman For “Unseemly, Undignified” Investigative Conduct. In 1998, Roll Call reported that diGenova and his wife were excoriated by then-Rep. Bill Clay (D-MO) for their conduct in the then-ongoing Monica Lewinsky scandal. Clay lambasted diGenova for “becom[ing] so closely aligned with the President's critics and so personally identified with the scandal itself as to have relinquished the air of impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism required of leaders of a serious congressional investigation." Clay called their conduct “unseemly, undignified, unworthy of this committee, and generally detrimental to important Congressional functions." [Media Matters, 4/30/13]

Joseph diGenova Led A Right-Wing Media Frenzy About Hillary Clinton’s Indictment. On the January 5, 2016, edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, diGenova predicted that Hillary Clinton would be indicted for her private email server within “the next 60 days.” Even though the FBI investigation was never a criminal investigation, right-wing media from Rush Limbaugh, to the Washington Examiner, and the Daily Mail ran with what Fox host Sean Hannity called an “overwhelming” case for Clinton’s criminal prosecution. On July 5, 2016 -- 182 days after diGenova’s prediction -- FBI Director James B. Comey announced that the investigation was closed and the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.” [Media Matters, 1/7/16; Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System, 7/5/16]