CNN’s Jake Tapper and Fox News’ Chris Wallace pushed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s baseless accusation that stolen emails released by WikiLeaks shows former secretary of state Hillary Clinton engaged in “pay to play” with the Moroccan government.
The two January 2015 emails in question show a discussion between aides Robby Mook and Huma Abedin about whether Clinton would participate in an upcoming Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) summit in Morocco. Abedin expressed concern about Clinton cancelling her appearance, saying that Moroccan king Mohammed VI pledged $12 million to the Clinton Foundation’s charitable efforts and was expecting Clinton’s participation.
On October 21, Trump said during a rally in North Carolina, “Now from WikiLeaks, we just learned she tried to get 12 million (dollars) from the king of Morocco for an appearance. More pay for play.” On October 23, Tapper and Wallace questioned Mook, who is now Clinton’s campaign manager, about the emails released by WikiLeaks. On State of the Union, Tapper, although noting that Clinton didn’t go to Morocco, insisted that “this is a real issue … pay to play.” And on Fox News Sunday, Wallace asked, “Why wasn’t that classic pay to play?”
The suggestion that Clinton’s activities with regard to Morocco are a corrupt pay to play are dubious for three reasons.
First, there is no evidence that Clinton offered Morocco’s leadership any government action. In fact, she was in no position to do so, as the summit was scheduled for more than two years after she stepped down as secretary of state.
Second, in spite of Abedin’s concerns, Clinton did not actually attend the summit and it went forward anyway.
Third, according to ABC News, “Clinton Foundation records do not show any direct pledge of funding from the king or government of Morocco to the charity.” ABC suggests that this is because the $12 million pledge was actually a commitment to CGI, which are “agreements only to aid the program’s international projects, not to directly fund the Clinton Foundation itself.”
CNN’s own report of Trump’s remarks shows why his accusation is baseless (emphasis added):
The accusation is just the latest Trump has leveled against Clinton as he’s argued she engaged in “pay for play” schemes involving the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of state. But the Clinton Global Initiative summit in Morocco that Clinton was set to attend in exchange for the $12 million pledge took place in May 2015 and was discussed in emails by Clinton’s top aides in November 2014, after her tenure as secretary of state ended.
Clinton did not end up attending the summit.
Because Clinton did not attend the summit, was not in the employ of the government at the time, and the funds would not have gone to the Clinton Foundation directly, there is no “pay for play” here, despite claims by Trump and some in the media. Instead, this is just the latest in a string of reporting failures regarding Clinton Foundation donations.
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives at Burke Lakefront airport in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria