About Those Smoking Guns

 

In January, Robert F. McDonnell, 71st governor of Virginia, was sentenced to two years in prison followed by two years of supervised release after his conviction on 11 counts of public corruption. He, and especially his wife, behaved badly. But it’s worth taking a closer look at what was considered criminal in McDonnell’s case, because, at least so far, some in the press are suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s conduct must meet a much higher threshold to be considered problematic.

When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash on Sunday, Stephanopoulos played the informal role of Clinton defense attorney. Skipping right over the truly squalid appearance of conflict of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from nations and firms having business before the State Department while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, Stephanopoulos focused only on law breaking. “Do you have any evidence that a crime may have been committed?” he demanded. When Schweizer said he thought the material he, the New York Times, and others unearthed certainly merited further investigation, Stephanopoulos jumped on it: “But a criminal investigation? . . . Is there a smoking gun?”

When it comes to the Clintons, the standard is not “Are we looking at behavior that is so malodorous, so clearly lacking in integrity, that voters should be invited to consider it when casting their ballots?” but rather “Can you show us the ‘smoking gun?’” Actually, even then — remember the blue dress? – the evidence may not be considered dispositive.

Schweizer mentioned the case of Robert McDonnell, which began not with a “smoking gun” but with press stories about improper spending at the governor’s mansion. A federal prosecutor then began a criminal investigation and discovered that the McDonnell family had accepted up to $177,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman named Jonnie Williams. Mrs. McDonnell got a New York shopping trip, a trip to Cape Cod, and more. The governor got a flight to the Final Four, a Rolex watch, golfing trips, dinner at an expensive restaurant, and some other things. Williams contributed $15,000 toward the catering expenses for McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding. All very smarmy — it’s not surprising that a jury found him guilty.

But on the matter of quid pro quo, prosecutors never actually proved that McDonnell had taken government action on Williams’ behalf.

He permitted Williams to throw a luncheon at the governor’s mansion to announce a new dietary supplement he was marketing (tawdry, but not illegal). Aside from that, the most that could be shown in court was that McDonnell had instructed an aide to meet with Williams about tests he wanted the state to perform on his dietary supplement. The state never did those tests. The other bit of evidence was that just six minutes after contacting Williams about a loan, McDonnell sent an email to an aide asking about the dietary supplement test.

Yes, you can learn a lot about improper influence by studying a public official’s emails. But even assuming that a federal prosecutor reporting to Loretta Lynch would undertake a criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton, there are no emails to examine, are there?

The McDonnells’ were small time corruptions compared with what is alleged about the Clintons. According to the American Thinker, Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea racked up $8 million in travel expenses in 2013 alone. While the Clinton Foundation raised an estimated $500 million between 2008 and 2012, only about 15 percent was spent on “programmatic costs” reports The Federalist. Sixty percent of expenditures are described vaguely as “other expenses.” Amid the usual Clintonian tactics of denial, smearing the accuser, declaring it “old news,” and claiming to be victims of a conservative conspiracy, the Clinton Foundation was forced last week to amend its tax returns for the last five years. It seems the foundation neglected to report certain donations altogether. Reuters wrote: “For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments . . . Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars . . .”

If the Democratic Party closes ranks behind the poster girl for big government/big money cronyism it will be the greatest act of hypocrisy since Al Gore sold his TV network to Qatar-owned, oil-rich Al Jazeera. Petty corruption is sending Bob McDonnell to the big house. Will massive corruption send Hillary Clinton to the White House?

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Sounds to me like the treatment McDonnell received was excessively harsh. No evidence of public funds being spent illegally? No evidence of quid pro quo? So he was thrown in jail for merely receiving gifts? Barring further information/context on the case, that feels like prosecutorial overkill to me. It feels like he was the victim of a fishing expedition and a prosecutor who threw everything at the wall just to see what would stick.

    Saying that other people have been brought down by malicious prosecution so it’s only fair that Mrs. Clinton receive the same treatment seems like a poor argument, if that’s the argument that is being made.

    Now, that is not to say that it her conduct shouldn’t be discussed or that it shouldn’t be a campaign issue. I simply mean that I don’t like the tactics prosecutors use to go after politicians and other “smarmy” V.I.P.s (e.g. Martha Stewart, Conrad Black, etc.).

    On the other hand, if the argument is that McDonnell went to jail for much lesser “crimes” than what Mrs. Clinton is accused of, and that’s why it’s a big deal that the press gives her a free ride, that would be a fair point.

    • #1
  2. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Misthiocracy:Sounds to me like the treatment McDonnell received was excessively harsh. No evidence of public funds being spent illegally? No evidence of quid pro quo? So he was thrown in jail for merely receiving gifts? Barring further information/context on the case, that feels like prosecutorial overkill to me. It feels like he was the victim of a fishing expedition and a prosecutor who threw everything at the wall just to see what would stick.

    Saying that other people have been brought down by malicious prosecution so it’s only fair that Mrs. Clinton receive the same treatment seems like a poor argument.

    Now, that is not to say that it her conduct shouldn’t be discussed or that it shouldn’t be a campaign issue. I simply mean that I don’t like the tactics prosecutors use to go after politicians and other “smarmy” V.I.P.s (e.g. Martha Stewart, Conrad Black, etc.).

    Mis,

    Disagree completely. If it was malicious prosecution where was everybody screaming out to protect McDonnell? What about Dinesh D’souza? Once the press accepts a pattern of malicious prosecution for one side of the political fence, it is the highest hypocrisy to totally ignore offenses magnitudes larger for the pet political party.

    Not only is Mona’a argument proper but we all should grind the face of the MSM into it as often as we can. Mrs. Clinton belongs in jail. Anyone else would already be under indictment.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
  3. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Mona, you’re asking that there not be a double standard.  Infuriating as it is, there is a world of difference.  If any Republican came even close to what Hillary has done, here, the same press would be calling for that Republican’s head on a platter.  There would be federal investigations and special prosecutors and the whole nine yards.  We know this for a fact.

    It would actually be pretty easy to conduct the thought experiment by publishing some fake stories, or tweets, or even just questions to people like Stephanopoulos about a republican, using only the proven facts in Hillary’s case, and see how people respond.

    • #3
  4. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Yes, the ex-political hack of Bill Clinton had the shameless nerve to ask, without any trace of irony …

    STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the Democrats have said this is indication of your partisan interest. They say you used to work for President Bush as a speech writer. You are funded by the Koch brothers. How do you respond to that? 

    George, who did you work for?

    • #4
  5. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    The only way Clinton wins the white house is if her opponent is named Bush.  She’s toast otherwise.  Clinton will not be indicted.

    • #5
  6. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    KC Mulville:Yes, the ex-political hack of Bill Clinton had the shameless nerve to ask, without any trace of irony …

    George, who did you work for?

    hahaha – yes, if someone could pull his voting record, or his contributions…  If I was on the receiving end of that question, I think I’d have trouble not laughing.

    • #6
  7. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    DocJay:The only way Clinton wins the white house is if her opponent is named Bush. She’s toast otherwise. Clinton will not be indicted.

    Jay, see my comment on Steven Miller’s post just under this one.

    Ricochet needs to be on Team Hillary right now!!  Or, as Brian said:  “RAH RAH SIS BOOM BAH!”

    • #7
  8. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    Let’s see of the former Governor of Oregon and his fiancee who received real money for influence will ever be prosecuted. Not holding my breath.

    • #8
  9. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    KC Mulville:Yes, the ex-political hack of Bill Clinton had the shameless nerve to ask, without any trace of irony …

    George, who did you work for?

    Not only that, thanks to the relationship between the Clintons and Bank of America got a very sweetheart mortgage deal on a $1Million house in DC.

    • #9
  10. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    If Stephanopoulos had a tiny drop of integrity he would never have been associated with the Clintons in the first place. To expect him to show enough journalistic integrity to recuse himself from this interview would have taken an enormous turn around for him. I watched the interview and afterwards had to wipe the drops of saliva off my computer screen from my screaming at him for his blatant hypocrisy. What the hell is he doing at ABC? His real niche is among the whores at MSNBC.

    I apologize if my language or sentiments offend anyone.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OldBathos

    We know that Hillary did nothing wrong because if there were even a hint of corruption, the Washington Post and New York Times would have been all over it starting years ago and Mr. Obama’s DOJ would be on the case like white on rice. Yeah.

    • #11
  12. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    The question to ask in response is, “What type of evidence would you expect to find?” Emails perhaps?

    • #12
  13. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Eugene Kriegsmann:If Stephanopoulos had a tiny drop of integrity he would never have been associated with the Clintons in the first place. To expect him to show enough journalistic integrity to recuse himself from this interview would have taken an enormous turn around for him. I watched the interview and afterwards had to wipe the drops of saliva off my computer screen from my screaming at him for his blatant hypocrisy. What the hell is he doing at ABC? His real niche is among the whores at MSNBC.

    I apologize if my language or sentiments offend anyone.

    not sure ABC is any better.  Is any television network, really?  The whole business appears to be saturated.

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Eugene Kriegsmann:If Stephanopoulos had a tiny drop of integrity he would never have been associated with the Clintons in the first place.

    If Stephanopoulos had a tiny drop of integrity, it would be because he stole it from someone.  A used-car salesman, maybe, or someone selling stock in a Haitian gold mine.

    Mark Halperin (not “Helprin” – the talented, intelligent one) said on This Week that if Hillary had been an Assistant Secretary, she’d have gotten canned for the stuff she was pulling.  That is Mark “senior political analyst for MSNBC” Halperin.

    George needs a smoking gun, though, because the Clintons have their own rules of evidence too.

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Percival:

    Eugene Kriegsmann:If Stephanopoulos had a tiny drop of integrity he would never have been associated with the Clintons in the first place.

    If Stephanopoulos had a tiny drop of integrity, it would be because he stole it from someone. A used-car salesman, maybe, or someone selling stock in a Haitian gold mine.

    If you want to know what his employers think of their own line of work, remember that one of Stephanopoulos’s most important jobs in the Clinton administration was to suppress news stories.

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    George, not only do I not have a smoking gun, but I don’t have a rubber cigar or a whoopie cushion. What’s your point?

    • #16
  17. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Do you recall the minor story where Hillary’s attorney asked Congress not to subpoena her server, because, after all, the evidence had been destroyed already and to persist would be in bad taste, almost Kenneth-Starr-esque?

    • #17
  18. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    KC Mulville:Yes, the ex-political hack of Bill Clinton had the shameless nerve to ask, without any trace of irony …

    George, who did you work for?

    Exactly.  Folks, any conservative thinker who dares to be interviewed by the MSM should have just such a response always at the ready when facing the jackals’ questions. We must never hesitate to point out to their faces their own biases and hypocrisies. The MSM is the enemy.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @JohnnyD

    “steal a little and they throw you in jail

    steal a lot and they make you a king”–Bob Dylan,  Jokerman

    • #19
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