Sidewire’s Jon Allen joined me in hour 3 today. Jon’s co-author of the best single volume book on Hillary Clinton and is well positioned to judge the severity of the impact of the latest round of scandals on the candidacy of Hillary Clinton:
HH: Heading back to California in a couple of hours, but not before I talk to Jon Allen. He is head of content and community for Sidewire. He’s also the co-author of HRC along with Amie Parnes, the greatest one volume biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton available at present. You can follow him on Twitter, @JonAllenDC. Jon, welcome back, good to talk to you, my friend.
JA: Good morning, Hugh, thank you for the kind words about the book.
HH: Well, I can’t, I haven’t looked at Sidewire, yet. I don’t know if you’ve had the courage to open up a conversation about Anthony Weiner and the latest sexting trial. I tend not to discuss anatomy on the Hugh Hewitt Show, but it has invaded the campaign. Have you done that, yet, on Sidewire?
JA: Not yet, but I expect we’ll be doing that this morning at some point.
HH: Now you must know Huma Abedin, and you must know, I feel for her, I really do. I think this is horrific, what happens to spouses when their husbands are caught doing stupid things like this. But how does it impact the campaign, Jon Allen?
JA: Well, it’s certainly a round of questions they don’t want to have to answer. But since Hillary Clinton’s not doing press conferences, you know, add it to the pile, I guess. It doesn’t look good. You know, there’s this sort of parallelism between Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner in terms of, if you’re a Republican going after the Clintons, or I think just anybody sort of observing what’s going on, you’ve got a husband who’s continually got these infidelity issues over the course of time, and a wife who you know, is enduring it and keeping the marriage together. You know, I don’t know how many more of these blows Huma Abedin is going to absorb. This is pretty bad.
HH: This is terrible, and the timing coming on top of the Clinton Foundation scandals, and we’ll come back to that, I’m just curious if you think Huma would have to leave the campaign.
JA: I don’t think that’s going to happen. I mean, the view from Hillary Clinton, who’s the most important person in this decision making process, has always been that Huma Abedin is so important to her that there’s not going to be, first of all, I guess number one, I think it would be hypocritical of Hillary Clinton to you know, basically have consequences for Huma Abedin for something that her husband did, right? So I think it would look terrible if she separated herself from Huma because of what Anthony Weiner’s doing. And you know, second of all, she’s so close than when Abedin wanted to go out and make some money, they inverted her employment status at the State Department so she could continue to be Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and basically travel with her and be her body woman. So before anybody thinks that’s an odd term, there’s a term in Washington, the body man, the person that stands, you know, holds the keys or the wallet or the cell phone of a principal. And in the case of Hillary Clinton, she’s got one who’s a woman, so you say body woman. But she’s so close that they want and did that, risked all of that bad stuff happening, because, I think because Hillary Clinton didn’t want to give up Huma. So I don’t see her doing that now.
HH: And that’s the second time that the term body man has been used this morning. Glenn Thrush and I were talking last hour, Jon Allen, about the Clinton Foundation and its intersection with the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And it’s pretty clear from the emails that came out last week that Huma was running the concierge desk for the Clinton Foundation contributors that Doug Band would email her about. And is that even disputed anymore, that they had a special access that no one else had?
JA: I think, you know, yeah, I think that the relationship, I think that the Clinton Foundation donors had a special relationship to the State Department, but maybe not always because they were Clinton Foundation donors. For example, some of the people that have come out that were looking for access, Muhammad Yunus, who was a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or Melinda Gates, they don’t need Doug Band asking to get a meeting with the Secretary of State. Any Secretary of State would meet with them. The question was who were the other 85? And how many of them would be able to get that access? And the reason that I say to you that you know, that I think that there’s some special access is because as you know in the book, my co-author and I wrote about this effort to fund a pavilion at the World’s Fair in 2009 undertaken by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, where she created an office that raised money essentially from Clinton Foundation donors to build that pavilion.
JA: Look, you know, I think it was a positive for the U.S. to show up at the World’s Fair in China, but you know, but tapping into her husband’s and her own fundraising network created a tremendous proximity between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation at a time when basically she said there was going to be a firewall.
HH: Now Jon Allen, you know the law and the Foundation pretty well. And therefore, I’m going to pose this as a neutral question. Does the assortment of facts that have come forward raise in your mind any questions under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act concerning Doug Band and former President Clinton?
JA: You know, I don’t know about, I don’t know enough about either the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to speak to that, and I’m, honestly, I’d have to look at the standards for FARA, for the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Are they acting on behalf of foreign entities to get things from the federal government? Obviously. But what is it that they’re acting to get? And how much of it probably depends on some, at least at some level, on what is it that they’re trying to get, how much time they’re spending on that. I have to…
HH: I think it’s a dead bang on Band. I think he’s convicted under FARA. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act forbids giving anything of value to a foreign entity in exchange for trying to seek something. And I know that Gilbert Chagoury was on the front page of the L.A. Times yesterday. They didn’t do, they did about 70% of the story. When Bill Clinton appears on behalf of Gilbert Chagoury on his new island, Eco Island outside of Lagos, and doesn’t charge him for it, he’s giving something of value to Chagoury. That’s, to me, it’s going to be a complicated story. I just don’t know if the MSM has the ability to cover it, or actually, more importantly, the desire to. What do you think about the latter question?
JA: Oh, I think, I think the desire is there. I think the mainstream media likes to take down political figures. I mean, the hunt is in the news. The hunt is in the takedown. And if five or six papers aren’t going to do it, two or three others are going to do it. You know, I mean, there’s, the competition for the ability to take down public figures is high, and I think it’s particularly high in the Clintons’ case. I think there are very few stories that don’t get written about. And actually, the AP story that came out last week that’s caused such consternation, my view is that that’s actually the least bad thing that we know about some of these relationships between the Foundation and the State Department.
HH: I agree.
JA: I mean, I didn’t think it was that big of a, like the Supreme Court has recently ruled that you can give money in exchange for meetings.
HH: Oh, for domestic political people. I want to make sure people understand that in the audience, not for foreign political people.
JA: Right. Correct. Correct.
HH: FARA was not, yeah, key distinction.
JA: But the principle of meeting not necessarily representing a quo is pretty established in that finding. In addition to that, none of what we saw from the AP actually was an exchange, right? I mean, you and I can look at it and say…
HH: But again, I’ve got to pause, Jon.
HH: The meeting can be the quo when a foreign actor is involved.
HH: and the quo in the person of Bill Clinton who charges a quarter million to a million dollars for a speech is pretty obvious. So I want to keep the Virginia governor story separate, because these are foreign entities. And I think that’s all the difference in the world. And it’s one of the reasons why I’ve heard that, the quo is not the meeting Supreme Court argument many times. But that Court case is not about foreigners.
JA: Right. I mean, there are separate laws that govern, as you pointed out, FARA. I think Foreign Corrupt Practices is probably a harder, I think trying to nail a former president of the United States on Foreign Corrupt Practices is going to be pretty hard. I look at that as like…
HH: I agree. It’s harder, but when…
JA: That’s like a Logan Act or something, right, where you can’t do foreign policy?
HH: Well, no, Logan Act is unenforceable. But when he goes to the Lagos island and he starts, who knows where that…I was talking to a general counsel or a former senior lawyer for a big multinational corporation, and they cannot believe what the Foundation did given the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. So Jon Allen, let me close by this. Is the race getting closer, in your view now?
JA: A little bit. I mean, the last couple of, I think the last couple days have been, have been good for Donald Trump and bad for Hillary Clinton. I’d have to say the last week.
HH: And starting off with Anthony Weiner, it ain’t going to get better. I think we may be within the Brexit margin of error. That’s what I’m calling it. Jon Allen of Sidewire, author of HRC, co-author of HRC, follow him on Twitter, @JonAllenDC.
End of interview.