Check the Facts
Why the Clinton email scandal and Petraeus leak are not really alike
This week, we dug into the popular talking point among conservatives that the Hillary Clinton email case is far worse than that of Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director who pleaded guilty last year to mishandling classified information he gave to Paula Broadwell, his mistress and biographer. Whether one case is “worse” than the other is an opinion that is not fact-checkable. But we reviewed what we know of the two cases from a factual and legal standpoint, to see if there is a logical comparison.
Our conclusion: It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison at best. Plus, we don’t have all the underlying facts of Clinton’s case, which has dragged on for the past year with facts being released incrementally. They both involve high-level government officials who handled information that was, or potentially was, classified. One can also argue it’s a question of judgment or transparency. We revealed that one of the prosecutors helping oversee the investigation into the Clinton email case is Richard Scott, who was involved in the prosecution of Petraeus. Clinton’s longtime defense attorney David Kendall also represented Petraeus.
But the similarities end there. The question that remains in the Clinton case, and is crucial to determining whether the charge brought against Petraeus can be brought against Clinton: Did Clinton and her aides knowingly send classified information? It’s not clear-cut; there’s dispute over whether some of the information sent through Clinton’s private email server was classified when it was designed to handle unclassified communications. (An issue we’ve written about previously.)
We awarded Two Pinocchios to the broad-brushed comparison that lacks context and overlooks the factual and legal differences between the two.Judicial nominations: “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”
That old Washington saying, the so-called Miles’s Law, has been on The Fact Checker’s mind lately in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. We reviewed statements by various politicians concerning when and how judicial nominations should be considered in an election year. We found that just has recently as 1956, an election year, a Supreme Court appointment took place without controversy.
In a revealing account of statements that members of Congress made since 1992, we found enough material to show that both parties can be viewed as hypocritical, situational and prone to flip-flopping, depending on which party holds the presidency and/or the Senate. Here are just a few of the examples of the flip-floppery we found, which received the very rare Upside-Down Pinocchio:
Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) in 1992 (Republican president, Democratic-controlled Senate): “It is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not — and not — name a nominee until after the November election is completed.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2005 (Republican president, Republican-controlled Senate): “The majority in the Senate is prepared to restore the Senate’s traditions and precedents to ensure that regardless of party, any president’s judicial nominees, after full and fair debate, receive a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It is time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.”
Vice President Biden, February 2016 (Democratic president, Republican-controlled Senate): “To leave the seat vacant at this critical moment in American history is a little bit like saying, ‘God forbid something happen to the president and the vice president, we’re not going to fill the presidency for another year and a half.’ “
McConnell, February 2016: “Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, we believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in on whom they trust to nominate the next person for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. It is today the American people, rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most-recent national election, who should be afforded the opportunity to replace Justice Scalia.”
Fact-checking Thursday’s GOP debate
The last GOP debate before Super Tuesday was full of drama and sparks. Marco Rubio, realizing it’s a make-or-break performance, came out swinging at Trump with opposition research. And Trump seemed to have prepared himself for jabs from Rubio and Ted Cruz. We fact-checked 13 fishy claims from the debate. Below are four of them, read the rest here.
“When they passed Obamacare, they put a bailout fund in Obamacare. … We led the effort and wiped out that bailout fund.”
— Marco Rubio
Rubio overstates the case here.
At issue is something called “risk corridors” — a provision of the massive law that was intended to protect insurance companies from losses if they did not properly estimate premiums in the initial three years of the law. Companies that estimated correctly — and had what were deemed as excess profits — would pay fees to help underwrite at least some of the cost of helping the insurance companies that had stumbled.
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