On Thursday night, CBS and Spanish-language networks MundoFox, Telemundo, and Univision continued their silence on the latest controversy involving the Clinton Foundation and claims made in the upcoming book Clinton Cash about donations to the group while a Russian company purchased an American-owned uranium mine.
Meanwhile, NBC ended its blackout on the story with a full report on NBC Nightly News, but downplayed the claims by touting an expert with the Soros-funded Sunlight Foundation, who declared that the book’s allegations offer “no smoking gun” regarding Clinton’s behavior.
Interim anchor Lester Holt started the program’s two-minute-and-28-second segment with the declaration that Clinton remains “under fire tonight as she carries on her campaign amid a slew of negative headlines that raise question about the dealings of her family’s foundation going back to her time as secretary of state.”
Correspondent Andrea Mitchell led off by gushing that Clinton was “the biggest celebrity at a star-studded women’s conference in New York” earlier Thursday, but quickly shifted gears: “[W]hen the cheering stops, Clinton is trailed by a cascade of stories about whether she did favors as secretary of state for donors to her family charities.”
The MSNBC host also highlighted how “the upcoming book Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer alleges that Clinton “did not live up to” a “promise” she made to the Obama White House when she signed a memo agreeing to “voluntarily disclos[e] foreign contributions” to the Clinton Foundation.
Mitchell followed that up with two excerpts from Clinton Cash and a soundbite from possible GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
However, it was then that Mitchell touted the response from the Clinton campaign that then-Secretary of State Clinton “was not involved in the State Department’s review of the sale to the Russians” as well as how “[a] government ethics expert agrees.”
To no one’s surprise, the expert parroted some pro-Clinton talking points: “There is no smoking gun. There's no evidence that she changed a policy based on, you know, the donations to foundation.”
After ABC’s Good Morning America was the only Thursday morning network newscast to cover it, evening counterpart World News Tonight offered another segment on the scandal. Anchor David Muir began by noting (as Mitchell did also) that Clinton has been called to testify before the House Select Committee and Benghazi while also facing “[a] firestorm as questions mount about cash donations to the Clinton Foundation and from whom.”
Senior national correspondent Cecilia Vega again reported on the matter:
Report after report questioning foreign donations it accepted while Clinton was secretary of state. The New York Times reporting that as Clinton's State Department was signing off on the sale of one of America's largest uranium mines to Russia, the mine's chairman donated more than $2 million to the Clinton Foundation and despite promising of transparency, those donations never disclosed.
While she made sure to note the reaction from both Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign, she maintained that, whether it be Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, or daughter Chelsea Clinton, “they are all going to be facing tough questions” about this scandal whenever they step out onto the campaign trail.
The full transcript of the segment from April 23's NBC Nightly News can be found below.
NBC Nightly News
April 23, 2015
7:06 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Money Trail]
LESTER HOLT: Turning now to the race for 2016, Hillary Clinton under fire tonight as she carries on her campaign amid a slew of negative headlines that raise question about the dealings of her family's foundation going back to her time as secretary of state. NBC's Andrea Mitchell takes a closer look.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Hillary Clinton, the biggest celebrity at a star-studded women’s conference in New York tonight.
HILLARY CLINTON: Hasn’t this been an extraordinary –
MITCHELL: But when the cheering stops, Clinton is trailed by a cascade of stories about whether she did favors as secretary of state for donors to her family charities. Chelsea Clinton, now the foundation's vice chair, defended their work today.
CHELSEA CLINTON: What the Clinton foundation has said is that we will be kinda even more transparent.
MITCHELL: When she took office, Hillary Clinton, pressed by the White House, agreed to a memo, voluntarily disclosing foreign contributions, but the upcoming book, Clinton Cash, obtained by NBC News, claims she did not live up to that promise. For example, while Secretary Clinton was trying to reset relations with Russia, the book describes how Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom, gained control of a U.S. uranium company. The author, former George W. Bush aide Peter Schweizer, writes, “shortly after the Rosatom deal was announced, Bill (Clinton) was in Moscow for a particularly well-compensated speech. He was paid $500,000 from another Russian entity.” And the book claims: “[H]owever hawkish Hillary might have been on other deals, this one sailed through. The Russian purchase of Uranium One was approved.” The author asks: “Why the apparent reversal? Could it be because shareholders involved in the transactions had transferred approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives?” Republicans are pouncing.
FORMER FLORIDA REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR JEB BUSH: Look, she's going to have to be held accountable like all of us.
MITCHELL: But the Clinton campaign strongly challenged the book today, writing, “Hillary Clinton was not involved in the State Department’s review of the sale to the Russians” and that nine government agencies were involved. A government ethics expert agrees.
SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION’s BILL ALLISON: There is no smoking gun. There's no evidence that she changed a policy based on, you know, the donations to foundation.
MITCHELL: But he and other experts say that the book does establish the Clinton’s did not live up to their promise to disclose all foreign donations and on another front today, the House Benghazi Committee said they will have her testify in public the week of May 18th about her e-mails and return in June to testify about the Benghazi attacks. Lester?
HOLT: Andrea Mitchell in our Washington newsroom, thank you.