Stephanopoulos Aggressively Questions Peter Schweizer Over ‘Clinton Cash’

On Sunday’s This Week, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, and repeatedly badgered his guest about the accuracy of his book and chose to focus on Democratic attacks against the author.

During the heated discussion, Stephanopoulos hyped how Democrats accuse Schweizer of having a “partisan interest. They say you used to work for President Bush as a speech writer. You are funded by the Koch brothers.”

Stephanopoulos never appeared interested in the actual substance of Schweizer’s book, which alleges the Clinton Foundation took in millions of dollars in donations in exchange for potential influence with the U.S. government and instead acted as a Clinton defender. The ABC host went so far as to quote a “independent government ethics expert” but didn’t mention he was a beneficiary of far-left billionaire George Soros:

As you know, the Clinton campaign says you haven't produced a shred of evidence that there was any official action as secretary that supported the interest of donors. We’ve done investigative work here at ABC News, found no proof of any kind of direct action.

And an independent government ethics expert at the Sunlight Foundation Bill Allison wrote this. "There's no smoking gun. No evidence that the changed policy based on donations to the foundation. No smoking gun." Is there a smoking gun?

After Schweizer detailed the further investigations that needed to be done regarding the Clinton Foundation, Stephanopoulos dismissed any wrongdoing and merely suggested “but it's not a criminal, nothing that would warrant a criminal investigation.”

Later on, Stephanopoulos suggested Schweizer was merely writing this book to help Republicans go after Hillary for political reasons:

The Clintons do say it's coincidence and as they say you have produced no evidence and I still haven’t heard any direct evidence and you just said you have no evidence that she intervened here. But I do want to ask a broader question. It's been reported that you briefed several Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee including the Chairman Bob Corker. Did you offer any briefings to Democrats? 

--

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? 

In contrast to Stephanopoulos’ hostile interview in which the ABC anchor had little interest in discussing the actual contents of Schweizer’s book, on Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace actually went into extensive detail surrounding several of the accusations made in the book.

See relevant transcript below.

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos

April 26, 2015

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And the author of Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer joins us now. Thank you for joining us this morning Peter. You know, I was looking at the book jacket right here, and you say that here in the book jacket that your reporting raises serious and alarming questions about judgment of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests and ultimately unfitness for high public office. So, how does your reporting show that Hillary Clinton may be unfit for the presidency? 

PETER SCHWEIZER: Well, I think the real question here George, is when you ever have an issue of the flow of funds to political candidates whether that's to their campaigns, whether that's to private foundations, whether that's to their spouse, is there evidence of a pattern of favorable decisions being made for those individuals, and I think the point that we make in the book is that there is a troubling pattern. There are dozens of examples of that occurring. Some people, I think particularly the Clinton camp, would say these are all coincidence. I don't think when you're talking about 12 instances, you're talking coincidence, I think you're talking trend. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you take it far and write the pattern is troubling enough to warrant further investigation by law enforcement officers. 

SCHWEIZER: Correct. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence that a crime may have been committed? 

SCHWEIZER: Well, I think if you look at a couple of recent examples, for example, Governor McDonnell down in Virginia or if you look at Senator Menendez, in these cases you didn't have evidence of a Quid pro quo. What you had was funds flowing to elected officials, some of them gifts, some of them campaign contributions and actions that were being taken by those public officials that seem to benefit the contributors. Certainly I think it warrants investigation. What that investigation – 

STEPHANOPOULOS: But a criminal investigation? 

SCHWEIZER: Well, we'll see. I mean, that's what the Governor McDonnell has faced and that's what Menendez has faced and the evidence here is far more widespread in terms of repeated action than there were in those two instances. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the Clinton campaign says you haven't produced a shred of evidence that there was any official action as secretary that supported the interest of donors. We’ve done investigative work here at ABC News, found no proof of any kind of direct action. And an independent government ethics expert at the Sunlight Foundation Bill Allison wrote this. "There's no smoking gun. No evidence that the changed policy based on donations to the foundation. No smoking gun." Is there a smoking gun?  

SCHWEIZER: Yes. The smoking gun is in the pattern of behavior. Here’s the analogy I would give you. It's a little bit like insider trading. I wrote a book on congressional insider trading a couple of years ago and talked with prosecutors. Most people that engage in criminal insider trading don't send an e-mail that says I've got inside information, buy this stock. The way they look at it is they look at a pattern of stock trades. 

If the person has access to that information and they do a series of well-timed trades that warrants investigation. I think the same thing applies here. By the way, what's important to note is it was confirmed on Thursday both by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that there are multimillion dollar non-disclosed donations that were made to the Clinton Foundation that were never disclosed by the Clintons. This is a direct breach of an agreement they signed with the White House.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is an issue for them but it's not a criminal, nothing that would warrant a criminal investigation. So let's look at some of the specifics behind your pattern. A lot of focus on this sale of a company Uranium One to a Russian company. Of course, Frank Giustra who had committed, what, $130 million pledged to the Clinton Foundation back in 2006 had had an interest in this company but he actually sold it. 

SCHWEIZER: Well, he sold hit stock, but his firm, Endeavor Financial, continued to do finance deals well after that and the individuals involved in the book as you probably read there are nine, count them, nine major contributors to the Clinton Foundation who were involved in that nuclear deal. The two individuals who were the financial advisers on the deal of the sale to the Russians, they’re both major Clinton foundation supporters. The chairman of that foundation, Ian Telfer whose donations were not disclosed -- sorry, Clinton Foundation contributor and there are others so this is not just about Frank Giustra. This is multiple layers of contributors. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you didn’t disclose in your book that he sold the interest. Beyond that, this deal was approved by a board of the government called the CFIUS board that is actually chaired by the Secretary of Treasury not the Secretary of State. 

SCHWEIZER: Correct.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Eight other agencies on board, the Secretary of State, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce, Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed off on it. And even though the State Department was one of nine agencies to sign off on it, there is no evidence at all that Hillary Clinton got directly involved in this decision. 

SCHWEIZER: Well, I think it warrants further investigation and there's a couple things that need to be clarified. Number one, she was one vote or the State Department was one vote on CFIUS, but any agency has veto power, so it needs to be unanimous so they had to support this agreement. The second thing that I would say is that in the midst of all of this, Hillary Clinton was in charge of the Russian reset. She was in charge of -- of the a123 nuclear agreements with the Russians. She was the one that was meeting with Lavrov. There were four senior congressmen on national security issues that raised concerns about this. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, wait a second. There were nine different agencies that approved it. 

SCHWEIZER: Sure. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Doesn't that suggest that that was because there was no national security concern, not because of some nefarious influence on Hillary Clinton. 

SCHWEIZER: But look at the nine individuals that were on the CFIUS committee, the nine agencies represented. Who was by far the most hawkish on CFIUS issues in the past? Hillary Clinton. She was big on rejecting the Dubai ports deal. She was big on other issues. She sponsored legislation when she was in the Senate to strengthen CFIUS. This was a signature issue for her and this is totally out of character. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the assistant secretary who sat -- assistant Secretary of State who sat on the committee said she never intervened on any CFIUS issue at all. 

SCHWEIZER: Well, I think that deserves further scrutiny. I would question that. To argue -- 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Based on what? Based on what? 

SCHWEIZER: Well, I think based on -- 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence she actually intervened in this issue? 

SCHWEIZER: No, we don't have direct evidence, but it warrants further investigation because, again, George, this is part of a broader pattern. You either have to come to the conclusion that these are all coincidences or something else is afoot. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is -- the Clintons do say it's coincidence and as they say you have produced no evidence and I still haven’t heard any direct evidence and you just said you have no evidence that she intervened here. But I do want to ask a broader question. It's been reported that you briefed several Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee including the Chairman Bob Corker. Did you offer any briefings to Democrats? 

SCHWEIZER: No, but I'd be glad to give them before the book is released. This was a friend that asked me, thought it would be a good idea to talk to these individuals. This was the committee that confirmed her and I was glad to meet with them. They did not get copies of the book, they did not get any material. It was simply a verbal briefing. And I'd be glad to brief any Democrats before May 5 when the book comes out.

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? 

SCHWEIZER: Well, George, what did I do when this book was completed? I went to the investigative unit at the New York Times, the investigative unit here at ABC. I went to the investigative unit of the Washington Post and I shared them with my findings. These are not cupcakes. These are serious researchers and investigators and they are confirming what I've reported so people can look at the facts -- 

STEPHANOPOULOS: They haven't confirmed any evidence of any crime. 

SCHWEIZER: Well, but that's not up to an author to prove crime. I mean, do you think that when people first started looking at Governor McDonnell or they started looking at Menendez that they immediately had evidence. You need subpoena power. You need access to records and information. You need access to e-mails. There's all sorts of things that you can do. You can't leave it up to an author to say that an author has to prove a criminal case. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Bloomberg news is reporting that you're going to be looking into Jeb Bush's business dealings, as well. Is that true? What have you found? Where and when will you publish? 

SCHWEIZER: We've been working on it for about four months. We've been looking at land deals. We’ve been looking at an airport deal. We’ve been looking at some financial transactions involving hedge funds based out of the U.K. We have already reached out to several media outlets and we're going to adopt the similar model that we have here which is to share that information with investigative journalists and established news outlets. Share with them that information. I think that people will find it very, very interesting and compelling. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Peter Schweizer, thanks very much. 

SCHWEIZER: Thanks for having me, George.

 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.