Elections

Did Clinton lie under oath? Fact-checking arguments against the Democratic nominee

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to volunteers in Seattle.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to volunteers in Seattle. AP

Idaho is a conservative state and Idaho Statesman readers are nothing if not skeptical readers. Many have raised questions, cited ethical concerns or seen published reports of alleged wrongdoing against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The Statesman asked reporters in its Washington, D.C., bureau to fact-check concerns cited by readers following the Editorial Board’s Oct. 13 Clinton endorsement.

1. Clinton ignored 600 imminent messages from our people in Benghazi and they were brutally murdered.

Donald Trump made this argument during the second presidential debate.

“When she said 3 o’clock in the morning, take a look at Benghazi,” Trump said. “She said who is going to answer the call at 3 o’clock in the morning, guess what? Guess what happened...Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help and the only one she talked to was Sidney Blumenthal who’s her friend and not a good guy, by the way.”

There’s no dispute that security in Benghazi was inadequate. But the description of “600 requests” needs to be parsed out. The final number of 589 ignored requests is somewhat misleading since some of the requests were fulfilled.

Additionally, the Benghazi committee’s count of 589 includes “requests and concerns.” The counting of concerns is in dispute. It is clear that ambassador Christopher Stevens did not make most, if any, of the requests.

2. Clinton supports abortion — right up to the moment of birth

Clinton clearly supports allowing women to have abortions. She also wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which would expand government funding of abortions through Medicaid.

But she does not support abortion right up to the moment of birth.

“I have been on record in favor of a late-pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother,” Clinton said in March. “I object to the recent effort in Congress to pass a law saying after 20 weeks, you know, no such exceptions, because although these are rare, they sometimes arise in the most complex, difficult medical situation.”

Since 2000, Clinton has supported a late-term limit on abortion, if there are exceptions for the life of the mother.

3. Clinton has stolen money for herself through her foundation

There is no evidence that Clinton took money from the Clinton Foundation for her own personal benefit.

Recently released WikiLeaks emails show that a few members of Clinton’s staff asked for more money for their work with the Clinton Foundation without detailing their job responsibilities, but that hardly constitutes “stealing.”

4. Clinton lied under oath to Congress without going to jail

House Republicans sought a perjury probe over the summer to determine whether Clinton lied when she testified in front of Congress about her use of a private email server.

“The evidence collected by the FBI during its investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email system appears to directly contradict several aspects of her sworn testimony,” said Congressmen Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., in a letter.

Clinton maintains that she did not send or receive any material marked “classified” on her private server. FBI director James Comey testified that three emails were marked “classified,” indicating that Clinton lied to Congress.

But later during the same hearing, Comey also said the emails in question could have been improperly marked.

At this point, it is unclear if Clinton lied to Congress about her use of a private email server.

5. Clinton stole property from the White House when she and “slick Willy” left

A widely-circulated internet graphic says, “After leaving the White House, Hillary was forced to return an estimated $200,000 in White House china, furniture and artwork that she had stolen.”

The Clintons left office with $190,027 worth of gifts, according to the Washington Post.

After that report, the Clintons voluntarily returned $136,000 in furniture, artwork and other items they kept after leaving the White House. About $50,000 of the gifts they removed were later determined to be government property. The Clintons returned an additional $86,000 worth of gifts they could have kept to quell public outcry.

6. Clinton ran a “pay-to-play” scheme between the State Department and Clinton Foundation without going to jail

Trump has accused Clinton of operating a “play-to-play” operation with the Clinton Foundation, offering access when she was Secretary of State in exchange for donations to the foundation.

Clinton Foundation president and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala admitted the foundation would need to transition some work to other charities if Clinton is elected president, even though it did not do that when she was Secretary of State.

Melanie Verveer, a longtime Hillary Clinton confidante, was in regular contact with Clinton Foundation officials during her four years at the State Department, according to dozens of emails.

The emails show the close, friendly relations between State Department and Clinton Foundation officials, providing a level of access that other groups undoubtedly wished they had with the administration.

Clinton’s campaign denies Trump’s accusations and insists there is nothing improper with the State Department’s relationship with the Clinton Foundation.

“Once again this right-wing organization that has been going after the Clintons since the 1990s is distorting facts to make utterly false attacks,” Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin said in a statement. “No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as Secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.”

But recently released WikiLeaks emails show Clinton was set to attend a Clinton Global Initiative fundraiser in Morocco in exchange for a $12 million contribution from the Moroccan king after she stepped down as Secretary of State.

“No matter what happens, she will be in Morocco hosting CGI on May 5-7, 2015,” said Clinton adviser Huma Abedin in an email. “Her presence was a condition for the Moroccans to proceed so there is no going back on this.”

Trump charged the Moroccan example as another instance of the Clinton Foundation operating a “pay-to-play” scheme.

“Now from WikiLeaks, we just learned she tried to get $12 million from the king of Morocco for an appearance,” Trump said. “More pay for play.”

7. Clinton’s campaign manager owns 77,000 shares of Russian uranium stock

This is not true, but the Clinton Foundation does have ties to a Russian uranium company. A Russian takeover of a Canadian uranium company, Uranium One, was approved by the State Department, and executives from that company donated millions to the Clinton Foundation during its transition to Russian ownership.

The donations are legal, but raise questions over conflicts of interest.

“To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.

But new WikiLeaks emails show Clinton campaign chief John Podesta opened doors for an alternative energy firm whose investors include a Vladimir Putin-supported Russian company.

Podesta never sat on a Russian company advisory board or owned Russian uranium stock, but did sit on the board of directors for an American company that attracted a Russian state fund as an investor.

8. Clinton personally profited from money sent to the Haitian earthquake victims

There is no evidence that Clinton personally profited in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. But Trump surrogate Michael Cohen alleged Clinton took in millions for a hospital in Haiti that was never built.

“Hillary Clinton … took in hundreds of millions of dollars for a hospital in Haiti that went to the Clinton Foundation, that was never built — that was years ago,” Cohen said this summer. “Where is that money?”

The Clintons were roundly criticized for not doing enough in Haiti after the earthquake. A group of activists protested outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in New York. But there is no evidence that Clinton raised hundreds of millions of dollars for a Haitian hospital that was never built.

A hospital in Port-au-Prince was delayed, and the commission that oversaw the project was co-chaired by Bill Clinton.

It’s a fair question to ask about Bill Clinton’s leadership and management of taxpayer money in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, but there is no evidence the Clinton Foundation promised to build a hospital and didn’t deliver, and there certainly isn’t any evidence that Hillary Clinton personally profited from money earmarked for disaster victims in Haiti.

9. Clinton wants to take away our Second Amendment rights

Clinton does not want to abolish the Second Amendment, but she said a 2008 Supreme Court case that struck down the Washington D.C. handgun ban was wrongly decided. The case was seen as a major victory for gun owners.

“Clinton believes (D.C. v.) Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe, like safe storage laws to prevent toddlers from accessing guns,” said Clinton adviser Maya Harris in a statement.

She also said “The Supreme Court was wrong on the Second Amendment,” in a leaked recording from a New York City fundraiser, but has never publicly indicated a desire to abolish the Second Amendment.

The NRA and gun advocates say Trump’s claim that Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment is legitimate because of her willingness to implement a gun buyback program and disagreement with the Supreme Court.

But Clinton has reaffirmed her desire to keep the Second Amendment multiple times on the campaign trail.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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