John Dickerson, host of CBS’Face the Nation, joined me Friday morning to look at the choice facing voters:
HH: Joined now by Face the Nation host John Dickerson, author of the brand new book, Whistlestops, which will be my beach reading if I ever get to a beach. John, welcome back. Here’s my meta question. On the one hand, we have an eccentric, erratic, irascible billionaire. On the other hand, a conspiratorial, compromised, sometimes sinister, access denying, no press conference giving, long time insider who’s connected with Gilbert Chagoury. What the hell are we going to do?
JD: (laughing) You think I have an answer to that question, Hugh? You know, I think we’re going to have to just keep trying to present the choices to people and hope that there is a wisdom in the collective American response to this election. I don’t know. It’s a pretty, it’s, we’re, you know, what you’ve described is what I hear all the time from voters, is the kind of sadness about the choices that are put before them, and that there is so much, that so much time has to be spent trying to, you know, follow the kind of, some of these flashpoint things down a rabbit hole, and people are disappointed with the level of the conversation.
HH: Well, the rabbit hole today is Chagoury. So let me tell you, I will say up front, and by the way, in the last segment, I referred to the Daily Caller. I should have referred to the Daily Beast, who ran the horrific story on the Olympic athletes. It was the Daily Beast that ought to be shamed. But at Breitbart, which I almost never, ever cite, Breitbart did some digging into Chagoury and came up with the fact that he gave $460,000 dollars to the Miami-based Democratic voter registration drive, Vote Now ’96 as a foreign citizen. That was somewhat suspicious He was convicted of laundering millions of dollars, according to a PBS Frontline report. His name was once on the federal no-fly list. He had been named a kingpin of Nigerian corruption, had to pay them $300 million dollars after his dictator buddy died, and he admitted in a British court to bribery. Now that’s all Breitbart. I don’t know, I’m waiting for the New York Times to dig in. But what’s not deniable is that the New York Times finds Doug Band running interference with the new Clinton State Department for Chagoury with Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, and Huma saying oh, that’s the ambassador, I’ll reach out to him. Ought that not to be the source of every, you know, the center of everyone’s attention, John Dickerson?
JD: Well, the center of everyone’s attention? I don’t know if center, but certainly, you know, worth a lot of examination. And I think the initial response from the Clinton campaign, which was this is the idea that this is, I can’t remember the exact quote, but the idea that this is, that there was something wrong with this is, they sort of said this is crazy to think anything’s wrong with this. That’s not the response you want at all. In fact, it’s the response that suggests there absolutely, there must be something going on here.
HH: Exactly, yeah.
JD: So you know, the easy, we all know that there is a, that there is an easy kind of public/private connection here between the Clintons’ private activities and then her public…and now the question is what’s the, what’s actually illegal, and what’s legal, but is still questionable, and that’s what we, that’s what’s being investigated or looked at here. And I think it’s obviously been an ongoing question for Hillary Clinton and the relationship between Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, and the access that people get. I mean, the point here, obviously, is are people getting access to the Secretary of State, or did they get access to her or her staff, or was there a kind of easy flow one between the other? And if that easy flow and connection exists, then somebody giving money to one knows that they have some kind of connection to the other, or whether they know they have that connection or not, they think they might have that connection. And even the thinking they might have that connection is where the problem is. So…
HH: Yeah, when he gives…
JD: I mean, I think there are other things, there are other things…
HH: When he gives between $1 million and $5 million dollars to the Foundation and then gets calls returned, it just seems to me one major news organization, not Breitbart, not a small news organization of suspect political motivations, but one of the bigs ought to be digging. And I just don’t see it, and I’m curious if you see the same kind of scrutiny coming after Hillary Clinton as is going after Donald Trump and his, you know, the crazy dance yesterday on founder’s day.
JD: (laughing) Well, you know, I mean, it’s not like the Clinton email issue has gone uncovered. I mean, I think the Times has written about, has written about this. They may just have been writing about the Judicial Watch emails. But they’ve definitely, they’ve written about this, and the general, the connections between Clinton and the Foundation’s been covered by the Wall Street Journal, and you know, so I think it’s not like it’s gone uncovered.
HH: No, I mean, the newest…
HH: There’s got to be, the Chagoury thing. I’ve got to let you go in a minute, so tell us who is Face the Nation doing in August as we’re in Olympic weekend? How do you fight this, this avalanche of news?
JD: Well, you know, what we decided to do, we’re going to talk to Susan Collins about the decision she made this week.
JD: That’s one thing, and then we’ve got a panel of former administration officials to talk about what actually presidents do in the office, you know, what it’s like to have, what does temperament mean when you’re sitting around making decisions about national security? What does it mean to, what are the attributes of a president and what you would be looking for in our candidates for the job that they’re ultimately going to go have.
HH: Who’s on that panel?
JD: So at the moment, it’s Bill Cohen, former Secretary of Defense…
HH: Oh, good.
JD: …is on that, Tom Ridge is on that panel. We’re still putting together the other members of the panel, but we’ve got some good ones.
HH: Try and get Fielding. Try and go get Fred Fielding to come out. He knows everything, John Dickerson. Great panel. I’ll be watching it this weekend. You’ll never get Fred to say anything on air. John Dickerson of Face the Nation, thank you, my friend.
End of interview.