August 23, 2016 – The Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi on the Clintons, Gilbert Chagoury and Marc Rich

In Clinton Foundation Timeline, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) by Katie Weddington

The Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer Prize winning James Grimaldi joined me this morning to discuss the MSM’s inexplicable —to me– refusal to put  spotlight on the Marc Rich-Gilbert Chagoury business relationship and Chagoury’s massive donations to the Clinton Foundation:

Audio of Hugh Hewitt and James Grimaldi:



HH: I’m joined by the Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who has written extensively on the Clinton Foundation over the years. James, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.

JG: Yeah, thanks for inviting me.

HH: How many stories do you think you’ve written on the Clinton Foundation over the last, since she became Secretary of State?

JG: Well, about a dozen, I think I’ve written on the Clinton Foundation in the last couple of years. So…

HH: All right, in those dozen stories, did you ever bring up Gilbert Chagoury?

JG: Yes.

HH: And what was your conclusion about him?

JG: Well, I mean, the interesting thing about the Gilbert Chagoury story is it goes back quite a ways. In fact, the Journal has done stories on Chagoury going back more than, I think, ten or fifteen years. Well, Chagoury was convicted of money laundering in Switzerland. He was involved with difficulties in Nigeria. And he’s very close to the Clinton Foundation. He was a big donor to the Clinton Foundation, and he was given some special access, it appears, because through Douglas Band, who’s a top aide to Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. And when she became Secretary of State in early 2009, he wanted to speak to someone at the State Department, and Doug Band intervened to try to make a phone call happen with a top diplomat. He went through his contacts in Hillary Clinton’s office to make that happen.

HH: Now I have read in some places that he has pledged a billion dollars to the Clinton Global Initiative. Have you confirmed that, James Grimaldi?

JG: Yeah, no I haven’t looked, I haven’t re-looked, I really should say, into Gilbert Chagoury in the last couple of years. In many ways, he’s sort of known, but the numbers are large. I don’t know if it’s a billion dollars, but he’s one of the largest patrons for the Foundation.

Bill Clinton and Marc Rich (Credit: NYPost)

HH: Have you written on his relationship with the late Marc Rich?

JG: Yes, in fact, I think I, this, boy, you’re really testing my memory here. So when Marc Rich was pardoned, I covered at the Washington Post and wrote several stories about the Marc Rich pardons. I covered the hearings. I probably wrote a dozen stories about the pardons or more. And because I didn’t know that Chagoury was specifically the topic of this phone call, I didn’t go and reread my stories.

Gilbert Chagoury, Chairman of The Chagoury Group (left), Bill Clinton (center) and Ronald Chagoury, Chief Executive Officer (right) attend the Eko Atlantic City Dedication Ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria on February 21st, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

HH: Do you, can you recall generally what the relationship was between Chagoury and Rich, how close it was? I’ve done what I could. I have Googled Chagoury and Rich. I didn’t find any of your stories mentioning them in the same story. Would that surprise you that they weren’t mentioned in the same story?

JG: Yeah, it might. We could go back and we could take a look at what I wrote during the, did this come up during the pardon hearings that were held by Dan Burton that I covered?

HH: No, this, I’m talking only in the context of the Clinton Foundation, because I find the Chagoury-Rich connection, given the revelations of August 10th, to be remarkably salient. Do you?

JG: Well you know, I’m surprised they would not have come up during the Marc Rich pardon case, because I was very impressed with the work of the House Oversight Committee and Dan Burton’s team. I thought the hearings were excellent. I thought they were particularly salient with regard to the Marc Rich pardons and the connections therein. If you had wanted a Chagoury expert, I think the best person to talk to would be right there in Los Angeles, John Imschweiler, who wrote one of the most extensive pieces about Marc Rich that’s appeared in the Wall Street Journal. I think it was a 2,000 word article. And actually, we’ve been in some correspondence recently about Chagoury.

HH: Now on August 10th, out comes the emails that show Band making the request of Abedin for a meeting with Chagoury.

JG: Yes.

HH: I, this gets to my key point, and I have been banging on the MSM that the public needs to know that Chagoury and Rich are tied up together, and Chagoury is making millions, if not up to a billion dollars’ worth of contributions to the Clinton Foundation. And Marc Rich was pardoned by Bill Clinton. I think this is sinister. Do you think it’s sinister?

JG: Well, the facts as you state them, I’m not sure if I would use the word sinister, but they’re certainly noteworthy. When I go through the top donors of the Clinton Foundation on their self-disclosed list, which I have exposed as having a lot of flaws, I’m not sure that Chagoury comes up into the billion dollar range, but I’m willing to entertain that. On August 10th, I was enjoying vacation in Ventura County, California, so I did not cover that story, although I did contribute to it while on vacation, but have not gone back to look into it. So are you, do you think there should be, it sounds like you have new information.

HH: No, I have only the emails that have come out last week and yesterday. And thus far, I’ve been able to discover S. Daniel Abraham, a major donor, wanting the meeting, Bono wanting a satellite link-up to the Space Station, Chagoury, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, $32 million dollar donor to the Foundation, wanting a meeting, and Casey Wasserman, $5-10 million dollar donor to the Foundation, wanting a visa for a crook. All of those requests going to Doug Band and then relayed to Huma Abedin. So I have a pattern here that I haven’t seen. Have you written up this pattern of, I mean, it just came out since August 10th. That’s what I’m looking for. I mean, great reporting prior to August 10th, but that’s like saying there was great reporting on Lance Armstrong prior to the DOJ charging him with doping. There’s a before August 10th and an after August 10th, in my mind, set of articles.

JG: Well, you know, well, that’s interesting. I’m surprised you’re not at all interested in the fact that we’ve reported that 60 companies that were lobbying the State Department had given the Clinton Foundation $26 million dollars. I’m surprised you’re not interested in our coverage about these companies that got favors from the State Department, specifically from Hillary Clinton, including General Electric, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft and Boeing, and that gifts to the Clinton Foundation came in or around the time she did specific favors for those companies.

HH: You see, I am interested in that, but smoking guns are what make political stories. We have smoking guns beginning August 10th with the Chagoury emails, and now we find there are 14,900 emails that she did not release that she attempted to delete, and that the State Department is sitting on. So my calculation is of the 750 pages of emails that have been released, we have found five smoking guns of favors asked for of Doug Band by contributors that at least made it to the Clinton inner circle of Abedin and Mills. That’s all since August 10. Prior to that, it’s ugly and it’s messy and it’s stinky, but it’s sort of like Lance Armstrong and doping. Everyone sort of thought something was going on, but until the evidence showed up, he didn’t lose the endorsement deals.

JG: Well…

HH: There’s a new day now.

JG: I think you’re missing a point here, and I think if we go back, let’s go back and look at the Chagoury emails. What was it that Chagoury wanted? Well, from what we can tell from that email, he said he wanted a phone call. We’re not really sure what happened on the phone call. We know what his spokesman who used to work for the Bush administration, who now worked for Gilbert Chagoury, says that phone call was about, which was about the Lebanese elections. That possibly could be right or wrong. I don’t necessarily see that as a smoking gun. I do think that when you have a pattern of as many as a dozen companies that have given either the Clinton Foundation or have given Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton personally for their own personal bank accounts speaking fees, and you can show that those same entities were the recipient of specific favors that came in or around the time that those donations or contributions were made, and you have a pattern of a dozen of those, I mean, you know, there are coincidences in the universe, but you have to say that when that happens more than a dozen times, it could be interesting.

HH: Oh, I agree. I agree with that completely.

JG: And I think…

HH: I’m talking with James Grimaldi…

JG: I think what UBS got from Hillary Clinton was far more significant than Chagoury’s phone call.

HH: No…

JG: And I think that $1.5 million dollars that Bill got in his personal bank account after Mrs. Clinton was involved in helping negotiate down for UBS with the Swiss foreign minister, was a pretty significant story.

HH: It is. James, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad you’re writing that. What I’m looking at is the second most controversial thing that Bill Clinton did as president was pardon Marc Rich, the second most. That’s after the Monica…

JG: Which, after the Monica? Okay.

HH: So it is a disgusting thing. He was indicted on 65 cases, including dealing with Iran while Americans were being held hostage, probably will dog him. We thought his political career was over. Chagoury is Marc Rich’s business partner. This is just a question of journalistic approach. Shouldn’t every story that mentions Chagoury and his relationship with Doug Band and the Clinton Foundation mention that he was Marc Rich’s business partner?

JG: I suppose you make a point there. We could, we certainly could make a point about that. Like I said, I was on vacation when the Chagoury email came out. And in that time, I was busy, and since I got back on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, I wrote a story over the weekend on Friday in which I was able to uncover that the Clinton Foundation was trying to make some changes to their rules. I presented a list of questions to the Clinton Foundation around Noon. They refused to answer. They said they’ll answer when they feel like answering, and then at 5:00, they leak their supposed new changes to their policy to the Associated Press at 5:00.

HH: I know. That was silly. But here’s my key. Here’s my key question, James.

JG: So…

HH: …before we run out of time, is there hasn’t been one story since August 10 in a mainstream media journal, not one, that investigates, expands upon in details, the relationship between Marc Rich and Gilbert Chagoury. Is that a failing of the mainstream media?

JG: Well, I need to know more about the relationship between the two. I need to be able to fact check the facts that you talk about. I will say that there is a bias in the mainstream media that against rewriting stories that have been investigated in some great detail. That may be a failing. I run into that issue all the time. Some of the facts that I talked about today, which I wrote in the last two years in the two dozen stories, are often missed by lots of readers, including intelligent radio show hosts who…

HH: Oh, I didn’t miss them. I read them. They’re just not to the point.

JG: …don’t know about, don’t know about these things.

HH: Oh, no, I do. I’ve read them all. But what your tweets seem to suggest is I didn’t care about them. I did. I think they’re important. But the most important thing, it’s like not spotting Everest when you’re looking at a mountain range. The biggest thing is Rich-Chagoury, and no one’s written about it.

JG: Well, like I said, John Imschweiler wrote a 2,000 word piece not too far in the distant past. It might be worth bringing that story up again.

HH: I’m going to go find it. I don’t think it mentioned Chagoury, at least if it did, the Google algorithm…

JG: It’s a Chagoury piece.

HH: Yeah, the Chagoury piece does not mention Marc Rich to my knowledge. I can’t find one, not one.

JG: Yeah, no, it might. I don’t know. I mean, as I said, John is like one of our experts for Chagoury. This new Chagoury email that you find to be a smoking gun, and I’m not sure that it is, but it’s interesting, and we certainly put it on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I’m not saying it wasn’t interesting, but I’m not sure it shows a quid pro quo, which is what a smoking gun email would do.

HH: It doesn’t. I’m just saying…It shows Marc Rich’s…

JG: In fact, that’s what we’re looking for, is a quid pro quo email.

HH: It shows Marc Rich’s business partner, James, doing business with the Clintons. I’ve got to go. Come back again, but I hope you’ll turn your very great abilities to Chagoury and Rich, James Grimaldi of the Wall Street Journal.

End of interview.

(Hugh Hewitt, 8/23/2016) (Archive)