Media on the Clinton scandal: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd had former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the show Sunday. He naturally asked her about Ukraine and about the current state of Democratic politics. It was what he didn’t ask about that was so telling: the recent revelation that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) had fined the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign for their efforts associated with the now-discredited Steele Dossier.
As The Hill explains, “The Federal Election Commission (FEC) fined the [Clinton] campaign $8,000 and the DNC $105,000 for failing to properly report money spent on research for the dossier.”
In short, the Hillary for America (HFA) campaign and the DNC’s punishment for one of the most brazen efforts to create a lie about a presidential candidate, use the media to megaphone the allegations and then turn to the FBI to give the story a whiff of authenticity has been downgraded to an accounting error.
Major news outlets carried stories about the fine but then quickly moved on.
And we might not have even known about the fine except that Dan Backer, a lawyer representing the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, which he heads, filed a complaint with the FEC in September 2018. On March 29 of this year, the FEC sent Backer a letter stating: “After conducting an investigation in this matter, the Commission found probable cause to believe that the DNC Services Corp./Democratic National Committee and Virginia McGregor in her official capacity as treasurer (the “DNC”) violated” the law.
The commission also “found probable cause to believe that Hillary for America” violated the law.
The letter revealed that on “February 17, 2022, signed conciliation agreements with the DNC and HFA were accepted by the Commission.”
Were there any crimes committed by the associated actors: Marc Elias and Perkins Coie LLP, the DNC, Hillary for America, Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, who was paid $168,000 for his work on the dossier? We don’t know because the commission dismissed the allegations against them. “Accordingly, the Commission closed the file in this matter on March 25, 2022.”
Following the FEC’s two-page letter to Dan Backer are the two consent agreements (four pages each).
Here’s the skinny, according to the FEC: Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS $1,024,407.97 in 2016 for opposition research — that is, the Steele Dossier. Hillary for America paid $175,000 of that amount and the DNC paid the remaining $849,407.97.
The DNC claimed that nearly $783,000 of that money was for “legal and compliance consulting.” The Clinton campaign claimed it was for “legal services.”
The FEC determined the money was for opposition research. The reason the DNC and Clinton campaigns are getting their hands slapped is for misidentifying how that money was spent. A better explanation for the “accounting error” was plausible deniability.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC surely knew where the money was going — and why.
But they aren’t completely in the clear — at least not yet.
In October 2020, former Attorney General William Barr appointed Special Council John Durham to investigate the FBI’s role in the Clinton-Steele Dossier scandal. Durham has brought two indictments so far, but the investigation is ongoing.
The mainstream media now know many of the unseemly facts. As CNN reporter Marshall Cohen wrote last November in a long recounting of this sordid affair, the Democrats “paid for the research, funneled information to Steele’s sources, and then urged the FBI to investigate Trump’s connections to Russia.”
And yet the media are conducting interviews with Hillary Clinton, as Todd did last Sunday, without bringing up the campaign’s unethical, and perhaps potentially illegal, actions.
It’s hard to miss the irony. The Clintons funded efforts to prove a Trump-Russia collusion, which has never been verified, including by the Mueller Report. The only ones we know of who were actually colluding with Russians to affect the 2016 election were the Democrats’ paid informants.
The mainstream media know, and have for a while, of the scandalous actions taken by the Clintons and the DNC. But don’t expect them to grill the guilty parties about those actions. When it comes to the Clintons, the media continue to see no evil, hear no evil and, worst of all, speak no evil.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.