Published in May of last year, the book Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer generated extreme controversy, even for a political book based on a sensitive subject.
In this case, the sensitive subject was the taking of donations and payments for speeches by Bill and Hillary Clinton from donors to the couple’s Clinton Foundation, mostly during the time when Hillary Clinton was serving as the United States Secretary of State.
These actions raised the question of whether such donors were, in fact, buying influence for deals to be signed off on or approved by either the State Department, Hillary Clinton herself or both.
Now, the controversial book is getting even more attention as it’s being promoted as the basis for a new documentary of the same name scheduled to be released in theaters as the Democratic National Convention opens in July.
The film has been put together by Schweizer, who is a Senior Editor-at-Large of Breitbart.com and a former William J. Casey Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in association with Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News Network.
It’s being directed by M. A. Taylor, who directed a previous documentary, Hillary: The Movie. The latter film was responsible for the notorious Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which determined that corporations could give unlimited funds to political campaigns, a larger controversy unto itself.
Taylor also served as the cinematographer and production manager for the movie Hype: The Obama Effect, which examined the past of Barack Obama before he was elected president in 2008.
The full title of Schweizer’s book about the Clintons is Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. When you see the title in its entire glory you get a better description of the book’s content. But it doesn’t stop there, the book includes such gems as this: “The Lincoln Bedroom Goes Global,” which is the name of chapter one. It goes on from there.
Portions of the book are devoted to such State Department-sanctioned deals as the one for Uranium One, a company that controls 20 percent of the world’s uranium production. Uranium One was eventually sold to a Russian concern, the deal for which was approved by the State Department on Hillary Clinton’s watch.
As it turns out, several individuals who had hefty stakes in Uranium One made large donations to the Clinton Foundation just prior to the deal’s approval. The New York Times, basing an article on Schweizer’s research, said that this deal presented “special ethical challenges.”
In the UK’s The Guardian, British journalist Ed Pilkington pointed to “glaring conflicts of interest.” Writing in The Washington Post, Harvard law professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig said that, “on any fair reading, the pattern of behavior that Schweizer has charged is corruption.”
The website Politifact confirmed the book’s claims that between 2001 and 2013, Bill Clinton made 13 speeches for which he was paid in excess of $500,000 each is correct. Of the 13 speeches, 11 were made during the time when Hillary Clinton was serving as the Secretary of State.
“When you have one or two examples, it’s a coincidence,” Schweizer noted. “When you have this many, to me it’s a trend.”
Of those 11 speeches, all were made in foreign countries, mostly to foreign businesses, such as finance, media, telecom or pharmaceutical firms. Clinton’s record haul was in Hong Kong in 2011 when he was paid $750,000 for a speech on behalf of Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications giant.
Among other charges in Schweizer’s book are that one of the companies that paid Bill Clinton, Digicel, received favorable telecommunications contracts in Haiti, a country which is no stranger to the Clintons and their dealings.
In 2011, Hillary Clinton’s State Department helped engineer the removal of Haitian President René Préval through obviously rigged elections. The Clinton’s chose U.S. puppet, gangster and dancehall performer Michel Martelly as Préval’s replacement.
In the wake of the disastrous earthquake of the previous year, Bill Clinton arranged aid for the country, enriching numerous Clinton Foundation donors via no-bid contracts through the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development.
Another chapter of Clinton Cash deals with Bill Clinton’s role at Laureate International Universities, a for-profit educational venture run by private firm Laureate Education. Laureate Education had hired Clinton to be its “Honorary Chancellor.”
The timing of his hire is especially suspicious because the Obama administration had just begun to draft tighter rules regarding financial aid for students attending for-profit educational institutions. Simultaneously, an investigation into this questionable industry was being opened by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
After Clinton accepted his position with Laureate, Hillary Clinton brought the firm into a State Department Global Partnership and gave tens of millions of dollars of Department funds to an ostensible nonprofit, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), chaired by Laureate’s chairman Douglas Becker.
Documents show that after Bill Clinton became Laureate’s honorary chancellor, IYF was the recipient of tens of millions of dollars in new government grants, accounting for most of that organization’s revenue in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Schweizer wrote that prior to tax filings, the relationship between IYF and Laureate was undisclosed. For its part, Laureate declined to say to what extent it compensated the former president.
However, Laureate was recorded as being a Clinton Foundation donor to the tune of millions of dollars up until 2014. During Clinton’s time with the company, he spoke at its educational campuses in Peru, Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Mexico and Honduras.
The former president stepped down from his position coincidentally as the aforementioned tax filings were being made. Schweizer claims this was to avoid a wave of negative publicity.
A number of the Clintons’ high-powered friends such as Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate, are revealed in Schweizer’s book. Giustra lent his private jet to Bill Clinton and engaged him as a speaker while Hillary Clinton pressured officials in Kazakhstan to give Giustra’s company, UrAsia Energy, valuable mining rights in the country.
When it looked as if the prime minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov, might interfere with the deal, Hillary canceled a meeting with him, holding out until the deal was complete.
Another stunning charge Schweizer writes about is that ABC News commentator and former Bill Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation over several years but did not disclose this fact to ABC News prior to moderating televised presidential debates in 2015 and even prior to interviewing Schweizer about his book.
In fact, Stephanopoulos was only forced to admit the donations when the Clinton Foundation listed him in its records. In the wake of this scandal, Republican presidential candidates demanded that ABC News ban him from further debates due to a conflict of interest.
The film version of Clinton Cash is being financed by Breitbart News Network and is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival later this month. It will be released in the U.S. on July 24, to coincide with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Initially, it will screen in limited release in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, but if reception is positive, it will open for wider release in the weeks following, allowing time for the movie-going public to see it prior to voting in November. The trailer for the film can be seen here.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has already stated he would like to use material from Clinton Cash in campaigning against Hillary Clinton, saying that it “will become very pertinent” and that he was surprised it hadn’t been referred to more by Clinton’s Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.
From the trailer, it looks to be far from a dull production, and if it resonates enough with voters, Hillary Clinton may have more to worry about in November than just a general election loss.