Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash” has the Democratic Party—and Hillary Clinton’s campaign team—really nervous. The book has shone a spotlight on Hillary’s time as Secretary of State, and on the connection between deals presented to the state department by foreign interests (government and business) and donations made to the Clinton Foundation.
Schweizer has said several times his role as an author was to establish a pattern of behavior by Bill and Hillary Clinton as it related to donations made to the Clinton Foundation, and paid speaking gigs for Bill that often topped $500,000 apiece.
Critics however, have lashed out at Schweizer and his book, claiming it is nothing but a political hack job due to the lack of a “smoking gun.” There is no evidence of any quid pro quo, so therefore, the book is just partisan mudslinging.
Schweizer is quick to point out that he is an author, not a prosecutor, and his job was merely to report on what he believed was a pattern of behavior. He said it is up to those with subpoena power to look into the issue further and determine if there was any criminal behavior. That being said, the “smoking gun” argument doesn’t really pass the sniff test, because there are plenty of politicians who have been indicted and/or convicted of crimes without the presence of a “smoking gun.” Here are just a few:
1. Bob McDonnell – The former Governor of Virginia was convicted on a wide array of charges that included “Obtaining Property under Color of Official Right” for crimes such as having greens fees and caddies fees paid for at golf country clubs. The bulk of the charges centered around McDonnell’s relationship with businessman Jonnie R. Williams. Despite the additional access to the Governor that Williams was able to obtain via gifts and money, there was never any clear evidence that McDonnell did anything on Williams’ behalf in an official capacity.
2. Buddy Cianci – The former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island was convicted in the Operation Plunder Dome (the FBI codename) investigation. Cianci was indicted on 27 charges including bribery, racketeering, extortion, and mail fraud. Cianci was ultimately cleared of all charges except for one – racketeering. Somehow, the jury reached the conclusion that despite the lack evidence to convict on crimes like bribery and extortion, he still controlled a criminal enterprise.
3. Ted Stevens – While the late Alaska Senator had his conviction for corruption overturned due to prosecutors concealing exculpatory evidence, the justice department admitted there was no quid pro quo activities when Stevens was indicted on corruption charges related to gifts he received from VECO Corp., an Alaska oil services company.
4. Rod Blagojevich – Blagojevich was convicted on various charges in 2011 related to “selling ” President Obama’s Senate seat. Roland Burris, who Blagojevich appointed to fill Obama’s seat, has said that there was no quid pro quo and Blagojevich has built his appeal around the fact that the government did not prove there was an “explicit promise or undertaking” to perform an official act on anyone’s behalf. The government contends this was not necessary to secure their conviction. The appeal is still pending.
5. Robert Menendez – This case is somewhat different only because Menendez has only been indicted, and not convicted (yet) on any charges. However, if the other cases serve as a blueprint, it’s not far fetched to believe Menendez, short of taking a deal, will be convicted. As in the other cases, the government has not established (even in the indictment) that there was any “smoking gun” that tied gifts Menendez received to any federal action. Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University writes:
In reading the indictment, I waited for the “smoking gun,” the evidence of a quid pro quo, some demonstration that Melgen gave to Menendez explicitly in exchange for advocacy. It never came.
So why are Bill and particularly Hillary Clinton, being held to a different standard? If the standard is to show that action was taken after donations were made, whether there was an “explicit promise” or not, then shouldn’t what happened with Hillary and the Clinton Foundation be subject to a criminal investigation at most and at the least, a Congressional inquiry?
If Hillary Clinton wants to hold the highest office in the land, she should be made to answer for what went on during with the Clinton Foundation during her time as Secretary of State; and there should be further investigation into the Foundation’s actions to see if any laws were broken.
If it’s good enough for Bob McDonnell, it’s good enough for Hillary.
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