Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, a Breitbart News editor and head of the Government Accountability Institute, joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily to discuss the election and what Marlow described as the defeat of “the most powerful family, relative to their corruption” in modern American history, the Clintons.
Schweizer pointed to a few key strategies that helped Donald Trump overcome the powerful political and media forces arrayed against him.
“Number one, he articulated an outsider message about Washington, D.C., but Number two, he really did make this a referendum on the Clintons, and also frankly on Washington, D.C. I mean, the Clintons are kind of the alphas of corruption, creating a political machine, running that machine with peak efficiency, dominating our politics, excluding ordinary Americans from how they operate,” said Schweizer.
“But they’re not the only ones that do that,” he continued. “And, of course, you have to remember, in a way, Donald Trump defeated two dynasties: the Bush dynasty in the primary, and the Clinton dynasty now. That is an amazing feat. I think it speaks to the attitude of the country that while there was this sort of veneer in the mainstream media of, oh, people kind of like dynasties, like the Kennedys and Camelot. That really wasn’t the reality. People didn’t like this notion of entitlements, and now it’s Hillary’s turn, or now it’s Jeb’s turn. They wanted something fundamentally different.”
“And you know, Trump did it his way. He did it with a style that was very aggressive – that I think, fairly sometimes, he got criticized for going too strong. But on the other hand, I think the previous sort of gentlemanly approach, where we’re going to softly talk about corruption or we’re going to softly talk about cronyism, doesn’t work in this media age,” Schweizer argued.
He made the interesting point that Trump’s most important speech, although not the most colorful or most widely covered by the mainstream media, was the one he delivered in Gettysburg, where he called for “draining the swamp” of government corruption.
“Lifetime bans on lobbying, we’re gonna push term limits – I view that, in a way, as the most important speech because I think all the other things that he talked about: the trade deals, lousy trade deals, or an immigration policy that is totally distorted and doesn’t reflect the interests of the American people, the tax code, all of those are key problems. But in my mind, they are symptoms of the larger problem, which is we have a political class in Washington that those policies are the result of this self-enrichment. We don’t get those policies by random. We get them because we have a corrupted system, and people benefit from lousy trade deals. They get paid for putting together lousy trade deals,” Schweizer said.
“To me, the battle against the permanent political class, I think, is the core of what Trump needs to accomplish, and he knows we’re seeing right now – I mean, look, as going back to the Reagan years. You know, Reagan’s people had a statement: policy is personnel. We’re gonna know a lot of the tenor and tone of his approach on these issues based on the people that get appointed to Cabinet positions and White House positions. There is, no doubt, a huge effort being made right now by the political class to co-opt Trump and say, ‘Oh yeah, we know you said that, but here, this is how we really need to handle it,” he predicted.
Schweizer recommended keeping an eye on some key senior positions in the Trump White House as well as the people Trump appoints to head agencies like the Department of Education. “Are you, in a sense, filling those slots – I understand you need to have people with experience, we all recognize that – but are you basically slotting those positions with the wrong type of experience or with people that really haven’t been true believers in ‘drain the swamp’”? he asked.
“Remember, even a guy like Donald Trump with his strong personality, the guy that can sort of bend the hotel industry to his will, as he’s done in the past – you’re fighting a monolith, a very powerful monolith in Washington, D.C. You need to have reinforcements, and you need to know that when you tell the White House senior staff, ‘I want to do this,’ that they’re not going to slowly drift off in a another direction that the Washington establishment wants more,” he advised.
Schweizer credited Trump’s election victory to “strong support from all sorts of different demographic groups,” an uprising from people who see the D.C. political class as hopelessly obsessed with matters irrelevant to their daily lives, and widespread over-estimation of the Clinton political machine’s power. He included himself and other conservatives in the latter category error.
“You had high turnouts in lots of areas, but you also had a big drop-off in turnout in places like Detroit and Milwaukee,” he observed. “That is a reflection of how even traditional Democratic voters basically rejected Hillary Clinton.”
He noted that Clinton’s vaunted billion-dollar Get Out the Vote machine was on the ground throughout the election, but there just weren’t enough people “interested in pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton” – which “does offer hope that even people that have voted for the Democratic Party for decades, and perhaps have a financial interest themselves in public assistance and other things in voting for a democrat, even they could not be motivated enough to go and pull the lever for Hillary.”
In contrast, he said, “Even the staunchest critics of Donald Trump have to admit that his was a grassroots campaign.”
“This was not a campaign that was based on a political machine, Get Out the Vote efforts, trying to corrupt the ballot booth. This was a genuine grassroots effort. People came out and voted because they’d had enough. They believed in Trump. They wanted to, in a sense, give the middle finger to the Washington establishment. For the Left, there’s a lot of resources, a lot of money that was thrown into these Get Out the Vote efforts, some of the dirty politics that Project Veritas and James O’Keefe exposed, and they didn’t make it,” Schweizer observed.
He spoke out against those political dirty tricks, declaring that “every time somebody is allowed to vote twice or vote three times, it really does cancel out a legitimate vote from someone else.”
Marlow asked Schweizer for his take on the Clinton scandals going forward, guessing that her email server scandal would probably “go away,” but speculating that at least four other corruption investigations of Clintonworld would go forward, particularly the Clinton Foundation pay-for-play abuses chronicled so extensively in Clinton Cash.
Schweizer agreed that the Clinton Foundation probe would, and should, continue.
“I’ve said this from the beginning, Alex. I’ve talked about this multiple times. I think it should, and I think the main reason is that it’s not ultimately about the Clintons. It’s about the Clintons’ model,” he contended. “They’ve created this model for self-enrichment by taking foreign money. They set up this foundation. The spouse hits the lecture circuit. Look, in Washington, D.C., you figure out a way to get rich and get away with it through public service, everybody’s gonna start doing it.”
“So this goes beyond the Clintons. We are going to see a Secretary of Defense in the future, Republican or Democrat, do the same thing, if this is not thoroughly investigated and vetted,” he warned.
Schweizer added that the Clinton Foundation scandal was also about the rule of law: “I mean, if we have a senior government official who engaged in corrupt practices, which I believe they did, it should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI, and if crimes were committed, they ought to face the consequences – as would a mid-level bureaucrat in government, as would a businessman or a blue-collar worker.”
He anticipated much would come down to how the investigation of the Clinton Foundation was conducted.
“People are saying Trump is going to investigate the Clintons. Donald Trump’s not going to investigate the Clintons. The FBI is,” Schweizer noted. “The point is – and I think this is the way we ought to view all cases – you look at the evidence. The Clintons are certainly going to paint the picture that this is a partisan witch hunt. They’ve always attacked the messenger. That is always their strategy. They did it to me. They’ve done it to other people who have written critically about it. They’re going to do it here.”
“But I do believe if there is – and I think there is – very compelling evidence that the Clintons engaged in pay-to-play, I think you put it out there, and you prosecute. The American people will evaluate this, and come to the right conclusion, if indeed that evidence is there. I’ve always said I’m not a lawyer, but I think if you give the FBI the tools, the subpoenas, the things they need to investigate what they do, and if they come back and say, ‘Look, we think there was shady stuff going on, but we don’t think that in a court of law we can get a conviction,’ that’s fine. Everybody can say there was an investigation done, the professionals looked into it, we move on,” he said.
“But I think to just say, ‘Well, she gets a free pass because she lost,’ here’s the problem with that: If she had won, she was gonna get a free pass because there’s no way the FBI was going to investigate the sitting President of the United States and do so fairly. And now people are saying she’s lost and she should get a free pass. You’re saying they get a free pass regardless of what happens,” Schweizer pointed out.
He said the Clintons were motivated by their hunger for power and money, but added, “I think deeply embedded in that is this sense of entitlement, that they are owed this. They are owed the money. They are owed the power.”
Furthermore, Schweizer cited David Maraniss’ biography of Bill Clinton from several years ago, First in His Class, which was “generally sympathetic,” but included testimony from Clinton’s childhood friends about how he enjoyed breaking the rules and getting away with it, like the proverbial theft of cookies from the cookie jar.
“This friend observed to Maraniss that for Bill, it really wasn’t about the cookie. It wasn’t about the ultimate payoff of the cookie. His motivation was really just thinking that he could get away with it, that he was smart enough to steal cookies from the cookie jar at home, and his mom not knowing about it,” Schweizer said. “That was the big payoff and thrill for Bill. So I think there is also just this sense of, no other president has done this before. Perhaps their hope is no other president will do it after. And this just proves how smart and brilliant they are, that they can get away with stuff that other people can’t.”
He took a moment to salute Breitbart News for its influence on the election, and its ability to resist mainstream media efforts to bury the Clinton scandals.
“It’s been an amazing election year, and I think Breitbart has been front and center. And to think about, with all the major media outlets, with large major budgets, with larger resources than Breitbart, that Breitbart was at the center of this national debate – it is really a testament to our readers, but also to the leadership that you provided, and the great work that so many reporters on the Breitbart staff have done. Bravo!” Schweizer told Marlow.
He concluded with a confession about his perspective on the 2016 race: “I really thought it was hers to lose.”
“I think primarily because you saw this major shift in major news outlets, where it became a parallel universe,” he explained. “When Clinton Cash came out last year, pretty much all the major news outlets do stories, positive stories about the book, supportive of our findings – that completely changed over the summer. It really became a sort of mantra started by the Clintons that, ‘Well, this is all discredited.’ That became the phraseology on CNN, on MSNBC, and by the Clinton team. And by looking at the Podesta emails – and, of course, Breitbart’s done a great job of reporting this – you see how successful they are in collaborating with the media.”
“I guess it’s probably partly my age. I’m 51. I thought, well, you’ve got this big media outlet that just seems to kind of chug along and do their bidding for them,” he reflected. “I think I put too much faith in that, and I guess I did not put enough faith in the ability of the American people to seek out other sources of information and to basically say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
“So I was surprised, as a lot of people were,” he admitted. “Very happy. I think dynasties, whether Republican or Democrat, are not great for our country. And I really do think the bread-and-butter issue is corruption and cronyism. The reason we get bad trade deals, the reason we get bad tax policy, the reason we get crony deals is because of the political class. My hope is that that is where President-elect Trump focuses his attention.”
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