Emails released from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account continue to haunt Hillary Clinton and Democrats.
The latest scandal puts a serious dent in the media narrative surrounding Donald Trump.
And it could have serious consequences.
The media narrative swirling around the Trump administration is that campaign officials and Trump associates had contact with Russian nationals during the election.
Supposed “bombshell” stories in The New York Times and CNN claimed they were in “constant contact.”
But the reports do not reveal who they were talking to, if they knew they were talking to intelligence officials, what the contents of the conversations were, or if they were about Donald Trump.
The stories even reported that so far, no evidence has emerged to link the Trump campaign to collusion with the Russian government on the email hacks.
But that hasn’t stopped the media from convicting the Trump administration based on innuendo and speculation.
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned after reports surfaced that he had discussed sanctions in general terms with the Russian ambassador in a late December phone call.
There was nothing wrong or illegal with Flynn’s phone call, but the media stories created a critical mass hysteria that made it impossible for Flynn to remain on the job.
But is it uncommon for campaign officials to speak with representatives of foreign governments?
Emails released by WikiLeaks during the election showed the Chinese ambassador to the United States contacted Clinton campaign officials for a secret, off-the-record meeting.
The Daly Caller reported:
“Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai requested a meeting with Hillary Clinton’s top aides in January 2016, according to an internal email circulated among the former Secretary of State’s senior presidential campaign officials.
“Chinese Ambassador Cui invited me over to the residence Tuesday for a coffee and to make a request. He wants to have an informal, private, off the record, get together with a few of us to discuss the next year and the current state of US-China affairs,” wrote Clinton campaign aide Kurt Campbell in the Jan. 7, 2016, email.
“He asked me to host a social meal at my house in the next month. He was fairly insistent and indicated that he wanted to pass along some perspectives. I told him I’d reach out to you all to see about your judgment on this and possible availability. I’m happy to make some chili and cornbread by the fire but let’s first decide whether this makes sense. Please let me know your thinking,” Campbell said.
The email is one among hundreds to and from Clinton national campaign chairman John Podesta made public by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election cycle.”
The Clinton’s connection to the Chinese through their foundation was the subject of much controversy.
The Daily Caller reported the FBI flagged the financial activity of a Clinton Foundation donor and considered opening an investigation into the charity:
Clinton links to Chinese officials and interests are not new. The Daily Caller reported Aug. 11, 2016, that a “Clinton Foundation donor’s financial activity was suspicious enough for FBI and Justice Department officials to meet earlier this year to consider opening an investigation into the Clinton family charity.”
The Clintons also had shady connections to the Chinese going back to Bill Clinton’s time in office.
His re-election campaign was marred by scandals of millions of dollars in illegal contributions from a Chinese donor.
The media narrative that the Trump campaign has some unseemly connection to Russia or that constant contact was some sort of betrayal is not supported by the facts.
The Clinton campaign’s contact with the Chinese ambassador to the United States shows campaigns often have conversations with representatives of foreign governments.
The consequences of this meeting could be to shatter the media meme that Trump’s campaign engaged in “inappropriate” contacts with Russian officials.
So far, no evidence has emerged that Trump officials knowingly contacted Russian intelligence officials nor participated in – or had advanced knowledge of – the hacking of Democratic officials’ emails.