(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Blame Australia! Conservatives roll out another Clinton conspiracy to discredit Russia probe

Grasping for straws to defend Trump, conservatives look for a link between Clinton and an Australian diplomat


Charlie May
March 6, 2018 9:10PM (UTC)

Conservatives are hurriedly peddling a brand new right-wing conspiracy theory to delegitimize special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation that requires some serious mental gymnastics.

This time the theory involves former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who in his official capacity secured $25 million in aid to the Clinton Foundation in 2006 in order to combat the AIDS epidemic in Asian nations, according to a new report publicized as a "bombshell" by The Hill with the breathless headline: “Australian diplomat whose tip prompted FBI’s Russia-probe has tie to Clintons.”

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Records showed Australia was just one of the four governments that donated more than $25 million to CHAI, The Hill noted. The money had originally been allocated to the Clinton Foundation but was later put into the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).

Hours after the story was published, GOP lawmakers and conservative pundits jumped to claim Downer exposes political motivations behind the Mueller investigation. This is because Downer is the same person who went to the FBI after former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos reportedly told Downer about Russia having political dirt on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. That information helped spark the Mueller probe, and conservatives believe that's reason to discredit the investigation.

"The Clintons' tentacles go everywhere. So, that’s why it’s important," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio told The Hill. "We continue to get new information every week it seems that sort of underscores the fact that the FBI hasn’t been square with us."

The leaps of evidence-free claims continued on President Donald Trump's favorite show, "Fox & Friends."

"As it turns out ladies and gentlemen," co-host Steve Doocy said on Tuesday morning. "Mr. Papadopoulos who met Alexander Downer that night didn’t realize he was meeting a guy who donated $25 million to the Clinton Foundation to eradicate AIDS."

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You know the right-wing spin has failed to take off when even Brian Kilmeade has to step in and point out the factual inaccuracies.

"Was that Australian government money? I’m sure he didn’t have $25 million" Kilmeade said to Doocy, noting that the money was not a personal donation to the Clintons.

An undeterred Doocy doubled down.

He went on to describe the perceived revelation, along with the idea that the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, compiled by former spy Christopher Steele, was also discredited by the partisan memo released by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. The memo was widely discredited, yet Doocy described the incidents as "two lynchpins, both regarding Hillary Clinton, to get the dirt on Donald Trump."

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"Both connected to Hillary," co-host Ainsley Earhardt chimed in. "So the question is, what does that dirty dossier really prove? It proves, apparently, that the Clinton camp was the one that was dirty."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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