To former President Bill Clinton’s and former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s long, long list of scandal, impropriety and simple embarrassment add two new entries: the curious cases of Rajiv Fernando and Laureate University.
Fernando appears to be a simple Clinton enthusiast who raised and contributed large sums to Clinton campaigns and the Clinton Foundation. On Friday it was reported by ABC News that Mr. Fernando was placed “on a sensitive government intelligence board even though he had no obvious experience in the field.” Fernando, who gave enough to the foundation to travel to with Bill Clinton to Africa, was on the International Security Advisory Board along with “an august collection of nuclear scientists, former cabinet secretaries and members of Congress.”
Why? Well, that’s what ABC wanted to know back in 2011. When it asked, newly released State Department emails reveal that the reporters were stalled while Fernando and Mrs. Clinton’s office were looped in. Fernando’s decision to resign came four days after the first ABC inquiry as to what a specialist in electronic high frequency trading was doing on a panel debating nuclear proliferation and the risks of nuclear weapons and which included such senior statesmen of that very specialized, very technical, very classified world as Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft (ret.) a former national security advisor and William Perry, a former secretary of defense.
The media have an email trail now, thanks to a freedom of information request by the group Citizens United, But will it follow the trail and press the Clintons for answers? If the case of Laureate University provides precedent, the answer is “No.”
Steven Hayward of Power Line, one of the blogs that pioneered investigative blogging, put together a summary of the Laureate International Universities’ facts, the most important three of which are that Bill Clinton served as the organization’s “honorary chancellor” between 2010 and 2014, that he was paid $16.5 million to do so (good work if you can get it). The Department of State granted Laureate $55 million while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Go figure.
In April of last year, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported that Bill Clinton retired as “honorary chancellor” two weeks after Hillary launched her presidential campaign. His office noted he had travelled to 19 Laureate campuses around the globe while “honorary chancellor,” an excellent way to suggest much work when perhaps there is just grifting and grafting going on.
The list of such stories is staggering. We see now unfolding a mainstream media feeding frenzy into the life and times of Donald Trump. USA Today, for example, bannered a study of the number of times Trump has been sued last week, and of course Trump University is a magnet for reporting.
Trump is a private citizen, though, and a businessman leading a vast array of projects, hotels, golf courses, and branded lines of product. The Clintons are, well, the Clintons. There are no towers to point to, no first tees or branded steaks to point to. Only talking. And books. And now, we learn, chancelloring.
To suggest that simple avarice linked to access to power is at work here is to miss the vastness of the enterprise. (Still, remember Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich? The New York Post quoted Barney Frank last year on the 15th anniversary of the pardon as saying that “It was a real betrayal by Bill Clinton of all who had been strongly supportive of him to do something this unjustified. It was contemptuous.”)
The scale of scandal overwhelms honest people at some point. They begin to understand that, just like the famed “Chicago rules” of the Untouchables, there are “Clinton rules.” They might move from indifference to these Clinton rules to outrage about them if Donald Trump makes his case Monday, condenses it and repeats it again and again. Consider the foreign policy failures of Hillary’s watch in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, along with the infamous “Russian reset button” and the failure to secure a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, which led to the loss of the peace there after the abrupt withdrawal of American troops in 2011. This parade of fiascos is easy to recall, and her illegal server is impossible to forget.
Trump’s challenge will be to somehow make America care again about the prospect of another Clinton lease on 1600 Pennsylvania and what that means when pardon time comes around, or how Bill will leverage his spouse’s new gig to bring in more cash.