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July 26th, 2017

Insight

George Step-In-A-Lot-Of-It: Did He Pay For Access To Clintons?

Dick Morris

By Dick Morris

Published May 18, 2015

    George Step-In-A-Lot-Of-It: Did He Pay For Access To Clintons?

Why did George Stephanopoulos suddenly start contributing to the Clinton Foundation in 2013? Well, according to George, the reason that he donated a total of $75,000 over the past three years was because of his deep commitment to the Foundation's good works, especially on the issue of AIDS and deforestation. It was for all the "best reasons" he said.

Hmmm. Well, if that's the case, then why didn't George's altruism kick in during the eleven previous years when the Foundations' good works were on full display and it needed money?

Here's a question: Could George's sudden generosity to the Clinton Foundation have anything to do with hoping to get an exclusive interview -- or two -- with a likely presidential candidate, one whose name had just been added to the Foundation's marquis? And could it also have anything to do with wanting to on the good side of the possible next President. Because four years of being locked out would not help George.

And then of course, there's George's wish to advance the liberal Democratic Party agenda. That's always been the basis of his portfolio. So, it seems like there were lots of reasons for George's newly-found philanthropy at the Clinton Foundation. We know that George believed that Clinton donors "hope" for something in return. And, when you really get down to it, George is no different than the rest of them. He was hoping for a better relationship with Hillary -- and what better way than to honor her Foundation?

Because it didn't become the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation until 2013, after Hillary left the State Department. Before that it was simply the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation. So just after Hillary joined the Foundation,

George's big heart led to a big donation.

Think about it. George has always had a mixed relationship with the Clintons. Bill once angrily described George to me as "one of the children who got me elected." He was in a constant fury about George's leaks to the press. And Bill was not at all happy about George's memoir, especially his claim that Bill had "tarnished" the Presidency and his assertion that he would never have worked for Bill if he'd known what he later learned about him. Bill has a very long memory. As for Hillary, she always ran hot and cold about George and never considered him an equal.

But George is a clever tactician and it looks like he saw a golden opportunity. George knew that Diane Sawyer would be leaving the anchor position at ABC. After Hillary's disastrous "dead broke" interview with Diane, there was no way that Hillary would ever let Diane back in her house again.

That left George at the top of the political heap at ABC. And his consistent contributions to the Foundation, along with his public hit jobs on Republicans and Hillary foes, would show Hillary just how loyal George really was. George would inevitably become the interviewer of choice. The teacher's pet once again.

And he worked hard at going after Republicans. Remember how he savaged Romney at a 2012 debate? George brought up the issue of states prohibiting contraception -- a subject that hasn't been seriously debated since the 1960's. It was irrelevant, but George relentlessly pressed Romney for a response. According to Rand Paul, that exchange opened the door for the claims of the Republican Party "War on Women." The Clintons must have loved that and George understood what he was doing. He flashed his mirthless smile for his former teachers to see. How proud they must have been!

Here's the odd thing: Despite George's great admiration for the work of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, he never told a soul about his magnanimousness, even his bosses. The folks at ABC might have wanted to know when one of their anchors has a clear bias that won't look good at all when the rest of the world found out about it. Or would they? ABC completely ignored published reports in 2009 that George was on a regular morning conference call with Democratic Party strategists and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. That should have raised some eyebrows. But not at ABC. Anything goes if they can get an edge on a story. Most viewers wouldn't find out about it, anyway, so no big deal.

Because George certainly didn't tell his viewers about his financial support of the Clinton Foundation - when he aggressively and contentiously interviewed Peter Schweizer about his book "Clinton Cash" that is so critical of the very same Foundation. Apparently, George didn't think about a possible conflict of interest - even the obvious appearance of a conflict. As Breitbart pointed out, George smugly had the gall to repeat Democratic Party accusations that Schweizer had a "partisan interest" because of his work as a speechwriter for President Bush. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

According to George, he thought that the details of his public generosity were "public information." Right. Hidden on a website without the ability to search by names. We're supposed to believe that.

No, George didn't reveal his cash to the Foundation because he didn't want anyone to know that he was pandering to the Clintons, paying the entry fee for a big fat exclusive and a return to the fold for the years of an anticipated Presidency.

He wanted to avoid the kind of criticism that has now erupted -- justifiably so. He wanted to pretend he was fair and neutral. He's not. He wanted to deliver for the Democrats and the Clintons. And that's exactly what he's done.

George's secrecy raises another question: Did anyone approach him on behalf of the Clintons to encourage him to make a contribution? We'll never know the answer to that question, but it's always been strange how so many people end up deciding to contribute to the Foundation.

Understandably, George wants this to go away. He's apologized for his "mistake" and was forced to recues himself from the February 2016 ABC GOP-hosted presidential debate -- as he should. For their part, ABC says it was an "honest mistake."

Let's get this straight: It was neither honest nor a mistake. It was a brazen ploy to curry favor with Hillary Clinton. Because Stephanopoulos knew full well that the Clintons distrusted him. In an excerpt of his book All Too Human, published in Newsweek, George described the deterioration of his relationship with them and the change of his status from the "ultimate insider" to "the enemy."

"That was the way it was with the Clintons: you were either for them or against them...I heard that as far as Clinton was concerned, I was now a nonperson -- my name was not to be mentioned in his presence. The charges of disloyalty were painful."

One thing George knew for sure was that the best way to please the Clintons was to always put your money where your mouth is. They love the contributors to their many endeavors -- campaigns, Foundation, speaking fees. It wasn't enough for George to just make nice on them on TV. He'd also have to prove his worth. So the Stephanopoulos check book came out, and, next thing you know, there's George handing over $75,000. And then, guess what? There's George interviewing Bill Clinton and praising the Foundation.

It's all just one big coincidence. Just like all those paybacks listed in the Schweizer book that the Clintons claim are coincidences. The ones Stephanopolous scorns.

A cartoonist friend of mine, Rick Davis, used to have a character in his "Captain Ribman" cartoon series in 2000 that he named "George Step-in-a-lot-of-it."

He's back.

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Dick Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters.

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