Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, joined me this AM:
HH: Pleased to welcome back to the program Peter Schweizer. Hello, Peter, good morning to you.
PS: Hey, good morning, Hugh.
HH: Peter, you’re among the earliest investigators of the Clinton Foundation, the findings of which were detailed in Clinton Cash. I want to ask you about the revelations of the past two weeks, but first, what’s the relationship that you have with Steve Bannon?
PS: Well, Steven Bannon was a co-founder with me of the Government Accountability Institute, which has, so was launched in 2012 to look into crony capitalism and corruption. And we’ve done that by looking at both Republicans and Democrats. And you know, our stories have been picked up from everything from 60 Minutes to the New York Times.
HH: Now I don’t know Steve Bannon. I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I’m told he may have been on my show once in an election special, but I don’t recall. What’s your assessment of Mr. Bannon, who’s been the subject most recently of an excoriating set of remarks by Hillary Clinton yesterday?
PS: Yeah, I mean, I’ve known Steve for 12 years. We’ve done a couple of films together, and you know, look. Steve comes out of a background from the U.S. Navy, from Wall Street, from financing Hollywood films. He’s a tough guy. But any suggestions that you know, somehow he is racist or you know, is a bigot, is just outrageous and not true. And I know that from my friendship with him for 12 years.
HH: All right, good. Now what has the last two weeks added to the story of Clinton Cash?
PS: I think what it’s done is it’s filled in some of the lines. What we knew last year from Clinton Cash is that a lot of foreign entities were throwing a lot of money at the Clintons. And then when you looked at the actions that Hillary Clinton took as Secretary of State, her actions seemed to favor or benefit those donors. And you know, the Clinton Foundation attack against me personally was that well, there’s no evidence. There’s no evidence. This is just a coincidence. What these emails show is that it was not a coincidence, that the Clinton Foundation was a conduit for foreign oligarchs basically to gain access to the highest levels of the State Department. Ordinarily, a guy like Gilbert Chagoury could contact the State Department, and they wouldn’t pay him much notice. He’s a foreign national, he’s a foreign businessman, but the fact that you now have Clinton Foundation people in these emails going to senior State Department officials and saying we want you to meet and talk with this guy, he’s a good friend of ours, he’s important to us, makes all the difference in the world. So I think that the email trail is very damning.
HH: Let’s focus on Gilbert Chagoury for a little bit. I’ve talked to a number of reporters this week, none of whom have covered him. And what I was able to find out from another non-related story from 2009 in the Wall Street Journal and other various entries across the web is that he was a business partner of Marc Rich’s. Can you confirm that?
PS: That’s absolutely correct. I talk about that in Clinton Cash. Gilbert Chagoury is of Lebanese background. His family’s been in Nigeria since the 1920s. And he was a business partner, that is his term and widely reported, with Marc Rich in one of Marc Rich’s most lucrative financial deals, which involved smuggling oil out of Nigeria. Nigeria has a state-owned oil company, the profits of which are to go to the government of Nigeria, ostensibly to the people of Nigeria. But they were siphoned off with the help of a dictator in the 1990s named Abacha. So this was a highly-lucrative deal for Gilbert Chagoury and Marc Rich. And they were indeed fast friends and very strong business partners.
HH: At the time of the Marc Rich pardon by Bill Clinton, did Chagoury go on record concerning that? Has there ever been any indication that he was grateful to the Clintons for the pardon of Marc Rich?
PS: There’s not that I’ve seen. You know, there were various people that wrote letters to Clinton saying you should pardon Marc Rich. There’s no indication that that took place, but the timing is very, very interesting. Gilbert Chagoury in the 1990s dabbled a little bit in his relationship with the Clintons. But after the pardon of Marc Rich, the relationship really took off. Bill Clinton was paid to give speeches by Gilbert Chagoury. Gilbert Chagoury started donating to the Clinton Foundation between $1 and 5 million dollars, made a pledge of one billion dollars, with the letter B.
HH: What is the source for that? I could not find a source. I’ve read that, but I have not found a source of the pledge of a billion dollars.
PS: Yeah, so this was involved in an environmental project called Eco Atlantic that Chagoury is involved in, in Nigeria. And it’s basically to create this supposedly environmentally friendly island with a massive sea wall in Nigeria. Bill Clinton actually went to Nigeria and appeared at the announcement of Eco Atlantic. And so the one billion dollars ties into that. By the way, it’s interesting. Some of the emails that have come out show that the State Department was actually negotiating with Gilbert Chagoury’s family to possibly build a consulate or State Department facilities in Eco Atlantic itself, which of course would have benefited Gilbert Chagoury.
HH: Now I’m talking with Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, the first and most comprehensive to date investigation into the Clinton Foundation between two covers. Doug Band is on many of these emails, Peter Schweizer.
HH: Have you ever met Doug Band?
PS: I have never met Doug Band, no.
HH: As far as you understand the Foreign Agent Registration Act, ought Band to have been registered as a foreign agent given the number and depth of his representations on behalf of people seeking appointments at the State Department?
PS: Yes, absolutely, I think he should have. The Foreign Registration Act basically requires that if you are seeking to do the business of foreign entities in Washington, that includes not just Congress as it relates to lobbying for legislation, but recalls a meeting or matters of interest before the government that you are required, based on this 1930s law, to register. And of course, Doug Band did not do that.
HH: I am curious as well if anyone has raised the question of whether or not former President Clinton ought to have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act given his representations of projects like Chagoury’s?
PS: I think that’s an excellent point, and I think look, I think whether you’re an ex-president or not, and this is really the problem, if you are doing the bidding of foreign entities in the United States, you ought to apply, that law ought to apply to you whether you are a janitor or whether you’re an ex-president. And this brings up a point, Hugh, that I think is vitally important for people to understand. Look, we all know the story of money in politics. We know the guy on Wall Street who raises money. He wants access. He wants favors from the politician he gets money for. But this has been a gameplay by Americans. Foreign entities cannot donate to campaigns or superPACs to get access and to get influence. The Clinton Foundation was the conduit around that. that’s why more than half of the donations came from these foreign oligarchs, and that’s why it’s vitally important for people to realize this is not your typical pay to play, money in politics story. This is about foreign money gaining access and influence at the highest levels of our government, and we have not been there before.
HH: Is there any citizen enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, do you know?
PS: I don’t believe there is. I do not believe there is a civilian component.
HH: All right.
PS: So it comes back, alas, to the Justice Department.
HH: And to the FBI, which is compromised. Let me ask you about Laureate University. I misstated something on air the other day on television. Bill Clinton was paid $17 million dollars by Laureate University. I misstated that the State Department had given Laureate University $50 million dollars. That was in fact not the case. USAID had given $50 million dollars to a related entity related by virtue of the man who founded Laureate, and I wanted to correct the record on that. But what is Laureate University? Is it an American company doing business abroad? Is it a foreign company? Because Bill Clinton taking $17 million dollars from it ought to raise eyebrows.
PS: It should. It is a for profit company based out of Baltimore. It has a long history of legal troubles in Latin America, which is where they do the bulk of their business. The government of Chile and Brazil have conducted criminal inquiries because of what they allege would be violations of law. You’re not allowed to run a for profit university in those countries. And through some unique accounting, Laureate has avoided that. But you are quite right. Douglas Becker, who is the founder of Laureate University, is also the chairman of the International Youth Foundation, which got $50 million dollars from Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Even more to the point, International Youth Foundation runs many projects through Laureate University. So it is, I think, a massive conflict of interest. Bill Clinton literally gets put on the payroll when Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State. The State Department massively boosts its support for the International Youth Foundation, which then of course runs programs through Laureate University.
HH: Well, the State Department and USAID are separate, but related, obviously. But that’s what I couldn’t find. I couldn’t find the pass through.
HH: …which is the International Youth project, and you’re saying that IY[F] does give money to Laureate?
PS: Yes, absolutely, and I talk about this in Clinton Cash, and you can go on the website.
PS: They run programs through Laureate. They have like a young entrepreneurs, a young scholars program all run through Laureate Universities from Turkey to Latin America.
HH: All right, now among the other people that the emails revealed as having been served by the concierge service run at the State Department for Clinton Foundation donors are the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Mr. Wasserman, Mr. Abraham, lots of other people. What do you expect will come out of the 14,900 emails, Peter Schweizer, if they are released?
PS: I think we’re going to see more of the same. I know that there are more coming out from Citizens United and Judicial Watch, and God bless them for the work they’ve done in litigating to get those opened up. I’ve seen some of them. We’re going to see more of the same. Look, this firewall that the Clintons had, that they kept the State Department separate from the Clinton Foundation, has been completely breached. They don’t even bother arguing that anymore. They are now at the point where they basically are saying we’re going to abandon the project and not be connected to it. The problem is, Hugh, they made similar commitments in 2008. Barack Obama required Hillary Clinton to sign a memorandum of understanding, which among other things, said they were going to reveal every year all the donors, and they were going to have a firewall between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. They violated those agreements wholeheartedly. I don’t think we should believe them this time, either.
HH: Last question, Peter, since you know Steve Bannon and have worked with him, is Bannon’s relationship with Trump closer or less close than David Brock’s relationship with Hillary Clinton? And is Breitbart to the Trump campaign what Media Matters is to the Clinton campaign?
PS: No, I would say there’s no comparison. I mean, in fact, if you look at Breitbart, I think I wrote one piece on Donald Trump on Breitbart, was not favorable. I don’t think that there’s been anything ever written by Media Matters that is even remotely critical of Hillary Clinton. And in the case of Steve Bannon, you know, you’d have to ask him specifically, but you know, I know that the things that have been in Brietbart and the editorial positions have been nowhere near as favorable towards Trump than Media Matters, which just does, you know, reflexively, exactly what Hillary Clinton wants them to do.
HH: And are there people associated with Media Matters at least as controversial as those associated with Breitbart?
PS: Absolutely, there are, and I think look, Breitbart is a media company that gets 30 million, you know, visitors a month, 30 million readers a month. Media Matters is an entity that is funded by a handful of Clinton financial supporters. It does not have a broad-based following. I deal with a lot of people in the mainstream media, you know, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post. None of them take Media Matters seriously in any way. It doesn’t have a large audience.
HH: Thank you, my friend. I’m out of time. Peter Schweizer, always good to talk with you, author of Clinton Cash.
End of interview.