On Friday, President Donald Trump caused a storm by tweeting that “everyone” at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany was “talking about … John Podesta.” Podesta served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and like Clinton herself he has inconvenient ties to Russia.
“Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!” the president tweeted.
Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 7, 2017
While based in current events, Trump’s statement was nonetheless problematic.
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), shot back with an acerbic Twitter response. She ran through three points: “Podesta never ran the DNC,” “DNC worked with FBI to kick out Russians. Worked with DHS,” and “Putin make you tweet this before mtg?”
1) Podesta never ran the DNC.
2) DNC worked with FBI to kick out Russians. Worked with DHS.
3) Putin make you tweet this before mtg? https://t.co/0IUEYpSpgQ
— Adrienne Watson (@Adrienne_DNC) July 7, 2017
Watson’s response was clever, but Putin wouldn’t have suggested such a thing, even if there was any trace of proof to suggest he was pulling Trump’s strings.
While Podesta never ran the DNC, The Washington Times reported that federal officials have not acquired the DNC’s hacked computer server — only cybersecurity specialists from CrowdStrike, which the DNC hired to investigate the hack, have done so.
CrowdStrike has blamed Russia for the hack, and some critics say the evidence is thin. Members of Congress said they accept Russia’s responsibility, but wonder why the DNC has not allowed federal investigators to look at the server, a key piece of evidence in the case.
So if Podesta was not connected to the DNC server scandal, why would people at G-20 be talking about him?
Last Thursday, Clinton’s former campaign chairman lost his cool on Fox Business in an interview with host Maria Bartiromo.
“John, I’ve got to ask you about your own situation, your ties to Russian entities, you joined the board of a small energy company in 2011, two months later a Russian entity directly funded by the Kremlin invested $35 million in the company,” Bartiromo noted. She also pointed out that he received 75,000 shares of stock and failed to disclose them when he went to work for President Obama.
Podesta responded defensively, declaring, “It’s not a Russian company.” When Bartiromo pressured him, “It’s backed by the Kremlin,” he shot back, “I did not have any stock in any Russian company, so go back and get your facts straight, Maria.”
“In 2011, John Podesta joins the board of this very small energy company called Joule Energy based out of Massachusetts,” he noted. “About two months after he joins the board, a Russian entity called Rusnano puts a billion rubles — which is about 35 million dollars — into John Podesta’s company.”
Rusnano is not a private company, but a fund directly funded by the Kremlin. Schweizer noted that the Russian science minister called Rusnano “Putin’s child.” This funding happened while Podesta was an advisor to Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
But the scandal doesn’t end there, Schweizer noted. In 2013, when Podesta went to work for the White House as a special counselor to Obama, he had to fill out a financial disclosure. In that disclosure, “he not only fails to disclose these 75,000 shares of stock that he has in Joule Energy, which is funded in part by the Russian government. He also fails to disclose that he is on one of the three corporate boards that this entity has.”
While Podesta is not responsible for the fact that federal officials haven’t accessed the DNC server, he is responsible for losing his cool when questioned about his Russia connections. If people at the G-20 summit in Hamburg really were talking about Podesta, it seems more likely this is the reason.
Ironically, the presidential candidate with the clearest ties to Russia actually lost the election last November, and amid this 21st century Red Scare Democrats are terrified to admit that their entire collusion narrative seems to be a massive case of projection. Now that’s the real scandal.