Reporters React To Trump’s Clinton Cash Citations By Noting "Widely Discredited" Book's Factual Problems

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Donald Trump forwarded conspiracies from the book Clinton Cash during his June 22 speech attacking Hillary Clinton. Numerous reporters correctly noted that the book suffers from serious factual problems; as CNN analyst David Gergen noted, “that book has been basically discredited.”

Trump Cited Discredited Book Clinton Cash

Trump Cited Heavily Discredited And Sloppy Book Clinton Cash. During his speech attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump cited Clinton Cash, which he claimed “documents how Bill and Hillary used the State Department to enrich their family at America’s expense.” The book is a trainwreck of sloppy research and shoddy reporting that contains over 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions. Reporters previously criticized author Peter Schweizer for pushing conspiracies "based on little evidence" that are "inconsistent with the facts" and "false"; taking quotes "badly out of context"; excluding exculpatory information that undermines his claims; and falling for a fake press release. [DonaldJTrump.com, 6/22/16; Media Matters, 4/30/15]

Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer Has A Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing. Schweizer is a Republican activist and consultant who currently works for the pro-Trump website Breitbart.com. 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." [Media Matters, 4/20/15]

Reporters React To Trump’s Clinton Cash Citation By Noting Book’s Factual Problems

CNN’s David Gergen: Trump Leaned Heavily On A Book That Has "Been Basically Discredited.” CNN political commentator David Gergen, who worked in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton White Houses, criticized Trump for referencing Schweizer’s book:

DAVID GERGEN: But you can't ignore the truth of what he says or the lack of truth of what he says. And I do think in coming days we're going to hear an awful lot about a string of lies and exaggerations. I mean let's go to something fundamental. And that is, I was really surprised he leaned as heavily as he did upon the Schweizer book, called the Clinton Cash, that book has been basically discredited. Other news organizations have looked at it and said he has no evidence, he has no evidence, that shows that money given to the -- by donors to the Clinton Foundation then resulted in actions by the State Department that favored those donors. And what Schweizer himself has said is, well I think there's a pattern here and we ought to investigate. I'm sorry, at this level, you can't slander somebody -- and this was a slanderous speech, without more proof. [CNN, At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan, 6/22/16, via Media Matters]

Vanity Fair: “Trump Cited Peter Schweizer’s Widely Discredited Book.” VanityFair.com political reporter Tina Nguyen wrote:

Throughout his speech, Trump cited Peter Schweizer’s widely discredited book Clinton Cash to argue that money the nonprofit Clinton Foundation received from foreign governments influenced the then secretary of state to make “disastrous trade deals” and kept her beholden to their interests. “She gets rich making you poor,” Trump said. (Schweizer, a Breitbart editor and a former fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, may be ideologically motivated.)

As proof that she could not be trusted to stand up to foreign governments, Trump pointed to Clinton’s relationship with the oppressive government of Brunei, which stands to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Clinton helped sell. “Hillary Clinton accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of state,” he claimed.

Though Clinton received the jewelry, federal law requires that most gifts from foreign governments must go directly to the U.S. government, either to the National Archives or the General Service Administration. Clinton’s house is not, presumably, filled with illicit Bruneian jewels. [VanityFair.com, 6/22/16]

Los Angeles Times: Schweizer “Draws Some Conclusions That Go Beyond The Available Evidence.” The Los Angeles Times wrote of Schweizer’s book:

The second major aspect of the speech, the attack on Clinton, mixed controversies in her career and serious questions about her record with allegations that came largely from a book, “Clinton Cash,” which chronicled various scandals in her career but draws some conclusions that go beyond the available evidence. [Los Angeles Times, 6/22/16]

Time: Schweizer’s Book Relies On “Some Leaps Of Logic.” Time reporter Tessa Berenson wrote of Clinton Cash:

That portion of Trump’s speech leaned heavily on a 2015 book by Peter Schweizer, “Clinton Cash,” which asserts that foreign governments that made payments to the Clinton Foundation and hired former President Bill Clinton to give speeches received favorable treatment from the State Department under Hillary Clinton in exchange.

The book and a related documentary have raised uncomfortable questions about the donations, though both rely on some leaps of logic in making their case that Clinton’s decisions were based on them. [Time, 6/22/16]

Slate’s Michelle Goldberg: Trump Took “Lies” From Schweizer’s Book. Slate columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote:  

The point is not that this is true; as political analyst David Gergen said on CNN, the speech was slanderous. But the lies in the speech, many taken from Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash, were not obviously self-refuting. At one point, Trump said, citing Schweizer, “Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.” This has been debunked many times over, including by FactCheck.org. [Slate, 6/22/16]

NBC News: “Parts Of Schweitzer's Reporting Fell Apart Under Scrutiny.” NBC News reporters Benjy Sarlin and Alex Seitz-Wald wrote:

In other instances, Trump went beyond the facts presented by some of Clinton's staunchest critics, like author Peter Schweitzer, whose book "Clinton Cash" Trump mentioned by name as a key source for his speech.

"She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund — doing favors for oppressive regimes, and many others, in exchange for cash," Trump said, citing Schweitzer's investigation into donors to The Clinton Foundation.

The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments and wealthy private individuals, including countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which Trump noted employ harsh religious legal systems. Good government watchdogs have warned the situation is ripe for potential conflicts of interest, or at least the appearance thereof (though they've said the same of Trump's business empire as well).

But Schweitzer himself acknowledged that "we don't have direct evidence" of quid-pro-quo behavior, telling NBC's Savannah Guthrie that "it warrants further investigation." Parts of Schweitzer's reporting fell apart under scrutiny. [NBCNews.com, 6/22/16]

NBC News: Trump “Cited A Number Of Widely Questioned Arguments” From Schweizer’s Book. NBC News campaign reporter Andrew Rafferty wrote:

Trump homed in on Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, alleging that she used the State Department as "her own personal hedge fund." He cited a number of widely questioned arguments made in the anti-Clinton book "Clinton Cash" by conservative author Peter Schweizer that allege the Clintons used the government to amass personal wealth. [NBCNews.com, 6/22/16]                  

New Republic’s Alex Shephard: Trump “Relied Heavily On One Widely Discredited Book, Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash.” New Republic editor Alex Shepard wrote:

But we can’t set aside the substance completely. Trump’s case was riddled with lies, bullshit, and conspiracy theories. He relied heavily on one widely discredited book, Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash, and another by a former Secret Service agent that’s been denounced by many of the author’s former colleagues. He alleged that Clinton Foundation donations went to her personal bank account. He said the United States was the highest taxed nation in the world (it isn’t). He said Clinton wants to allow hundreds of thousands of “unscreened” refugees to enter the country, which is blatantly false. [New Republic, 6/22/16]

Fox News Correspondent Jennifer Griffin: “Harper Collins Had To Re-Edit 7 - 8 Paragraphs That Were Proven Wrong.” Jennifer Griffin, Fox News national security correspondent, tweeted:

[Twitter, 6/22/16]

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2016 Elections
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