CNN’s Jake Tapper joined me today to talk about the difficulty of covering the Clinton Foundation especially when the Foundation’s legal misdeeds involve complicated statutes such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act:
HH: Before we turn out the lights on today’s Hugh Hewitt Show, America, joined by Jake Tapper of CNN. Of course, you’ll be watching him today on The Lead, on Sundays on State of the Union. Jake, great interview with Mike Pence on Sunday, well done. Good to have you back, my friend.
JT: Thank you, sir. How are you?
HH: Good. I have a technical question. This goes to you handle complicated stories better than anyone on television. The Clinton Foundation has got an intersection with the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And it’s complicated. How do you make that work on a television show?
JT: Well, I mean with a lot of these stories with the Clinton Foundation and the intersection with Teneo, that’s Doug Band’s group, or the State Department, I mean, it’s just, a lot of the time you have to kind of just explain what’s going on. And I definitely have to be an explainer to this. And I’m constantly telling the producers and writer on my show do not assume that the people watching this have the level of knowledge of the details that you have. We have to come and explain this, and because otherwise, it just becomes a bunch of gobbledygook and nobody understands it one way or the other. So take the time to explain all the details and all the intersections and all the questions.
HH: One of the things that’s making me crazy is that undeniably, the Clinton Foundation does good work. It’s undeniable. That is not an excuse for wrongdoing, and I’ve got a list – Sharing Plow, Eli Lilly, Vimpel, Alstom, they all gave to charities abroad. They all got enforcement actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because it doesn’t matter if you’re doing good works. What matters is whether or not you’re complying with the statute.
JT: That’s right. That’s right. And I mean, and that’s one of the things that’s, I don’t think it’s complicated, but it’s something that’s important to illustrate to people and explain to people, is that as you say, there’s just no question that they’ve done good work for you know, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. But that said, one has to abide by rules. And in addition to that, I mean, one of the things that’s kind of interesting about the Clinton Foundation is it’s kind of built on this principle or lack of principle, which is that people will give money to continue to be in the good graces of Bill Clinton.
JT: …and to continue to be close to Bill Clinton. That’s, that’s kind of like when a celebrity says okay, you can interview me, but we have to do the interview in Somalia, which happens.
HH: Yes. Perfect.
JT: I remember where I did do an interview in Africa.
HH: Perfect. Yup.
JT: So you know, okay, that’s kind of the principle of it, and while he is good at connecting donors to worthy causes or investments in projects that can help humanity, part of what it’s built on is him in the center of it, and Hillary Clinton to a lesser extent there, and that means that he is continuing to be the center of it all. That’s what it’s all built on.
HH: And it’s clear that they were running a concierge service through Doug Band and Huma Abedin at the State Department, which one understands. If the Crown Prince calls up Doug Band, he calls up Huma. Or if Gilbert Chagoury wants something, he calls up Doug Band, and he sends an email to Huma. But that’s Foreign Agent Registration Act stuff, and I just wonder if anticipatory weariness over Clinton scandals isn’t part of the dive, not dive, but the drop in her poll numbers over the last week, that people are just seeing, and now comes along Anthony Weiner, and they’re just saying gosh, do we want four more years of Clinton 2.0 and investigations? What do you think of that theory?
JT: I mean, I think it’s a legitimate question. Some of the Clinton people think that her poll numbers are just coming back to Earth after a bounce, after the convention, and this was bound to happen. They don’t necessarily see a connection, but obviously, look, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for her, and there are continued questions about these matters. And look, I mean, one of the problems here is, I think it’s fair to say, there is almost this righteous indignation when one says well, how can, you know, is it not a problem for Doug Band to be Bill Clinton’s top aide, and also at the Clinton Foundation, and then later also taking his contacts and everything to Teneo. Does this not create an appearance of conflict of interest? Same thing with Huma
Abedin being, working at the State Department while also working at the Clinton Foundation, and also working at Teneo, does this not create an obvious appearance of conflict of interest, if not actual conflict of interest? And there is almost this how dare you question us, what are you talking about, we’re abiding by all the rules. And these are very simple questions, and really not untoward at all.
HH: Now if Doug Band or Huma comes before a microphone, the first question is did you register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, because that’s the one, that’s just black and white. Quick question, Jake, let me make a little news here. Have you been contacted by the Presidential Commission on Debates?
JT: I haven’t heard anything. I want to make this as non-dodgy as possible. I haven’t heard anything one way or the other from anyone.
HH: Oh, that’s too bad. We’re lobbying hard for you, Jake.
JT: Well, thank you.
HH: We know you would be hard on both of them, so good luck in that. And we’ll do our prep with you afterwards. Whenever you get named, we’ll call you up and start lobbying for tough questions. Jake Tapper…
JT: Thanks, Hugh.
HH: Thank you. Talk to you, and we’ll watch you today on The Lead.
End of interview.