Peter Schweizer

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Peter Schweizer
PeterSchweizer-fullsizecolor.jpg
Born
Peter Franz Schweizer

(1964-11-24) November 24, 1964 (age 57)
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)
St Cross College, Oxford (MPhil)
OccupationPolitical consultant, author
Spouse(s)Rochelle Schweizer (divorced)
Rhonda Schweizer (m. 2013)
Children2
WebsiteOfficial website

Peter Franz Schweizer (born November 24, 1964) is an American political consultant and writer. He is the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), senior editor-at-large of far-right media organization Breitbart News,[1] and a former fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.[2]

Schweizer wrote Clinton Cash, a 2015 book discussing donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities and Bill and Hillary Clinton's income after they left the White House in 2001. Journalists and fact-checking organizations have criticized the book for speculation, conclusions not supported by the evidence presented, and for factual errors which were corrected in the Kindle edition.[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

While in high school, Schweizer attended the National Conservative Students Conference at George Washington University and was a member of Young America's Foundation (YAF). He graduated from Kentridge High School in Kent, Washington in 1983.[citation needed] Schweizer then attended George Washington University and, subsequently, graduate school at St Cross College of Oxford University on YAF scholarships.[citation needed] He was on YAF staff starting 1993 and edited its magazine.[6]

Career[edit]

In 2012, Schweizer and Steve Bannon co-founded the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative think-tank whose stated goal is to "investigate and expose government corruption, misuse of taxpayer money and crony capitalism." Schweizer is president of the organization.[7][8] It is registered as a nonpartisan organization,[9] but largely focuses on the Democratic Party.[10]

Investigative projects[edit]

Schweizer's early work at Senator Jeremiah Denton's National Forum Foundation (NFF) focused on the Cold War. He co-authored a National Review article with Denton's son, James (often cited as Jim), "Murdering SDI", about the suspicious deaths of several European officials who supported the Strategic Defense Initiative.[11] While at the NFF, Schweizer also published a report titled "The Meaning and Destiny of the Sandinista Revolution".[12]

In 2012, journalist Steve Kroft used Schweizer's work as the basis for a report on CBS's 60 Minutes about Congressional insider trading. Titled "Insiders: The road to the STOCK act", Kroft relied heavily on Schweizer's reporting in his 2011 book Throw Them All Out, which CBS independently verified, to demonstrate how members of Congress trade stocks unethically, and inoculate themselves from prosecution.[13][14] The following year, Kroft revisited Schweizer's work to create another 60 Minutes report on how members of Congress use the funds of their political action committees for private inurement.[15]

Books[edit]

Schweizer co-authored two novels, published in 1997 and 2005, with former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.[16][17]

Friendly Spies[edit]

Schweizer's second book, published in 1992, purported to reveal espionage by the French secret service on the British government between 1984 and 1987. A follow-up by two Sunday Times reporters revealed that meetings described by Schweizer in Friendly Spies did not check out, sources were named that did not exist or could not be found, and the hotel in which the meetings allegedly had taken place did not exist at the time.[18]

Victory[edit]

In 1994, The Atlantic Monthly Press published Schweizer's book Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union. The book argued that President Ronald Reagan brought an end to the Cold War through a policy of massive defense spending which led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Historian Stephen E. Ambrose criticized the book, writing that "there is a great deal more to the Soviet collapse than Schweizer recognizes, and in any case, it is difficult to take seriously a book as badly written as this one... The book is consistently redundant and badly out of balance."[19] The book later enjoyed renewed popularity with foreign policy officials during the Trump administration, with one White House official telling reporters "it was 'no secret' that the book has had some influence on policy."[20]

Clinton Cash[edit]

In 2015, Harper Collins published Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, a 256-page book discussing the donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities.[21] Several media outlets received advance copies, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Fox News, all of whom agreed to pursue stories found in the book.[21] While promoting the book, Schweizer falsely claimed that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had veto power to stop the sale of Uranium One to a Russian state-owned company.[5][22]

Time wrote that "allegations are presented as questions rather than proof" but that "the book's dark suggestions reflect the growing problem Clinton faces in her run for the White House in 2016 as more and more details of the foundation's fundraising activities present the appearance of impropriety and lack of transparency during her time as Secretary of State."[23]

Several journalists challenged the book, writing that it contains "leaps of logic,"[24] that it "draws some conclusions that go beyond the available evidence,"[4] that "[p]arts of Schweitzer's reporting fell apart under scrutiny,"[25] and that "Schweizer is trafficking in speculation."[5]

The book was found to contain several factual errors, including the false claim that Clinton played a central role in the sale of Uranium One to a Russian state-owned company while the Clinton Foundation was receiving large donations.[26][27][3] Several weeks after the book's initial publication, Harper Collins and the author made several corrections to the Kindle edition of the book, amending "seven or eight" passages.[3]

In the wake of the book's publication, the Clinton Foundation admitted that it made mistakes in disclosing some of its contributions and that it implemented new rules increasing financial reporting and limiting foreign donations.[26]

The book was funded by the Mercer Family Foundation with a $1.7 million contribution in 2015 to the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) whose researchers Schweizer used.[28][29][30]

Secret Empires[edit]

In 2018, Harper Collins published Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.[31] Secret Empires provided details about the overseas business conducted by Hunter Biden, particularly in his employment with entities such as Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.[32] The book also describes ties between Elaine Chao's family business Foremost Group and China, which were disputed by a spokesman for Chao's husband, Senator Mitch McConnell.[31]

The book "was perfectly timed for the Presidential campaign"[33] and has been cited as an initial source of the Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory. It was given significant coverage on Fox News which gained Republican nominee Donald Trump's attention and led him to send personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to pressure their new government to investigate the claims in Schweizer's book. Trump's efforts eventually resulted in a major scandal that culminated in his first impeachment.[33][34][35][36]

The Daily Beast reported that the book contained 14 examples of plagiarism, including from Wikipedia. The passages in question contained similar wording to those of several Wikipedia articles, particularly the articles on Patrick R. Daley, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Tom Steyer, and Jared Kushner. In addition to the Wikipedia articles, other passages, while citing news articles properly, contained similar wording to the cited sources.[37]

Films[edit]

Schweizer worked with Steve Bannon on In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Words and Deed, a 2004 documentary about former Hollywood movie star and president Ronald Reagan, which is based on Schweizer's book Reagan's War (2003);[38] Schweizer is credited as Executive Producer.[39]

Schweizer is credited as a writer and producer in The Creepy Line, a film that "epitomizes a popular claim that Silicon Valley is censoring American conservatives on web platforms."[40][41]

Activities[edit]

During 2008 and 2009, Schweizer served as a consultant to the Office of Presidential Speechwriting in the White House.[42] In March 2009, Schweizer and fellow White House speechwriter Marc Thiessen opened Oval Office Writers LLC, which specializes in preparation for congressional testimony as well as pitching opinion editorials and book proposals.[43] Schweizer's notable clients have included Sarah Palin, and he advised her on foreign policy.[44]

Schweizer is a member of the Research Advisory Council of the James Madison Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida.[45]

Criticism[edit]

Schweizer has been criticized for reporting inaccuracies and for making conclusions not supported by facts. Two Sunday Times reporters following up on his reporting in his second book, Friendly Spies, discovered that meetings described by Schweizer did not check out, that named sources did not exist or could not be found, and that there was no Paris Sheraton Hotel during the time period when the meetings allegedly took place.[18][46][47]

Schweizer admitted he overreached in attacking Hillary Clinton's purported role in approving a Russian uranium deal and falsely claimed that then-Secretary of State Clinton "had veto power" to stop the Russian State Atomic Nuclear Agency (Rosatom) from purchasing Uranium One. During a May 5, 2015, Politico podcast interview, Schweizer admitted that "veto is probably not the best word" and "what I meant by veto power was as we explain the process, you know, if somebody objects it kicks in the special investigation."[48]

In a 2015 NBC interview, Schweizer said that Hillary Clinton did not support a nuclear deal with India in 2006 and that she voted for it in 2008, after donations to the Clinton Foundation. PolitiFact rated Schweizer's claims false.[49]

Personal life[edit]

Schweizer lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife, Rhonda, and step-children.[50][51] He and his first wife, Rochelle Schweizer, co-authored books about Disney and the Bush family. They met when she was working with the National Forum Foundation (NFF), which in 1997 merged with Freedom House.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collins, Eliza (March 27, 2017). "Breitbart staff list reveals additional ties to Bannon and Mercer". USA Today. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  2. ^ "Peter Schweizer Expertise: International Relations National Security U.S. Presidency Peter Schweizer". Hoover Institution. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Karnie, Annie (May 14, 2015). "'Clinton Cash' publisher corrects '7 or 8' inaccurate passages". Politico. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Bierman, Noah (June 22, 2016). "Donald Trump delivers broadside against Hillary Clinton: 'She gets rich making you poor'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Kiely, Eugene (April 28, 2015). "No 'Veto Power' for Clinton on Uranium Deal". FactCheck.org. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  6. ^ "YAF Alumnus Peter Schweizer Tops New York Times Bestseller List". YAF. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Gold, Matea (March 17, 2017). "The Mercers and Stephen Bannon: How a populist power base was funded and built". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (September 30, 2020). "How Trump's 'Voter Fraud' Lie Is Disenfranchising Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  9. ^ Davies, Dave (October 9, 2019). "How a Political Hit Job Backfired, and Led to Trump's Impeachment Peril". Fresh Air. NPR.
  10. ^ Schwarz, D. Hunter (March 16, 2021). "Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz just joined this conservative think tank". Deseret News.
  11. ^ Hey, Nigel (2006). The Star Wars Enigma: Behind the Scenes of the Cold War Race for Missile Defense. Sterling, Virginia: Potomac Books. ISBN 9781612343297.
  12. ^ Schweizer, Peter (1987). The Meaning and Destiny of the Sandinista Revolution. Mobile, Alabama: National Forum Foundation.
  13. ^ Kroft, Steve (June 17, 2012). "Insiders: The road to the STOCK act". 60 Minutes. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  14. ^ Boyer, Peter J. (November 13, 2011). "Peter Schweizer's New Book Blasts Congressional Corruption". Newsweek. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  15. ^ Kroft, Steve (October 21, 2013). "Washington's open secret: Profitable PACs". 60 Minutes. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  16. ^ Webb, James (January 5, 1997). "Worst-Case Scenarios". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  17. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (July 4, 2005). "How Not to Fight Terrorism". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  18. ^ a b Watts, David; Rufford, Nick (April 11, 1993). "The Spy Who Wasn't There". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  19. ^ Ambrose, Stephen E. (July–August 1994). "Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union By Peter Schweizer". Foreign Affairs.
  20. ^ Giglio, Mike (September 25, 2018). "Trump's New Iran Strategy, Inspired By The Cold War, Calls For "Maximum Pressure"". Buzzfeed News.
  21. ^ a b "New Book, 'Clinton Cash,' Questions Foreign Donations to Foundation". The New York Times. April 20, 2015.
  22. ^ Waldman, Paul (April 27, 2015). "Back to basic facts in latest Hillary Clinton 'scandal' story". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  23. ^ Frizell, Sam; Miller, Zeke J.; Calabresi, Massimo (April 22, 2015). "Clinton Allies Knock Down Donor Allegations, New Questions Pop Up". Time. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  24. ^ "Trump Accuses Clinton of Corruption". Time. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  25. ^ Sarlin, Benjy; Seitz-Wald, Alex (June 22, 2016). "Trump Tries to Reset Race With Clinton Onslaught". NBC News. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  26. ^ a b Pilkington, Ed (May 5, 2015). "Clinton Cash: errors dog Bill and Hillary exposé – but is there any 'there' there?". The Guardian. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  27. ^ Barbash, Fred (November 15, 2017). "Fox News's Shepard Smith debunks his network's favorite Hillary Clinton 'scandal,' infuriates viewers". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  28. ^ Mider, Zachary (January 18, 2017). "'Clinton Cash' Book Got Most of Its Funding From One Hedge Fund Star". New York City: Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  29. ^ Hoffman, Andy (January 19, 2017). "Trump Donor Robert Mercer Funded Book on Clinton Cash Dealings". Investopedia. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  30. ^ Mayer, Jane (March 27, 2017). "'The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Author Alleges China Used Business Deals to Influence Families of Mitch McConnell, Joe Biden". The Wall Street Journal. March 15, 2019.
  32. ^ Llamas, Tom; Bruggeman, Lucien; Mosk, Matthew (June 20, 2019). "Biden sidesteps questions about his son's foreign business dealings but promises ethics pledge". ABC News.
  33. ^ a b Mayer, Jane (October 4, 2019). "The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  34. ^ Davies, Dave (October 9, 2019). "How A Political Hit Job Backfired, And Led To Trump's Impeachment Peril". NPR. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  35. ^ Schweers, Jeffrey (October 11, 2019). "Impeachment inquiry narrative has Florida roots in 'Secret Empires' book by Peter Schweizer". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  36. ^ Green, Joshua (October 2, 2019). "Trump's Impeachment Saga Stems From a Political Hit Job Gone Bad". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on October 3, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  37. ^ Markay, Lachlan (October 5, 2019). "Book Alleging Biden Corruption in Ukraine Lifted Passages From Wikipedia". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on October 3, 2019. Retrieved October 3, 2019. The Daily Beast found more than a dozen instances in which Secret Empires, the bestselling book by investigative journalist Peter Schweizer, copied nearly complete sentences or sizable portions of them verbatim or near-verbatim from other sources. In a number of instances, those sources were uncited Wikipedia pages created before the book’s publication in early 2018.
  38. ^ Gilly-13 (October 1, 2004). "In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed (Video 2004)". IMDb.
  39. ^ "The Film Makers". Reagan's War in Word and Deed. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  40. ^ Robertson, Adi (September 19, 2021). "The anti-Google documentary The Creepy Line is a conspiratorial playbook for right-wing tech backlash". The Verge. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  41. ^ Kosoff, Maya (March 6, 2018). "Steve Bannon's Clinton Tormenter Turns His Sights on Silicon Valley". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  42. ^ The Federalist Society, "Peter Schweizer. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  43. ^ Alexovich, Ariel; Klingebiel, Jacqueline (March 25, 2009). "Suite Talk March 25, 2009: Speechwriters Open New Outlet". Politico.
  44. ^ "Sarah Palin Changes Foreign Policy Team, Hires Peter Schweizer". ABC News Radio. March 3, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  45. ^ "Research Advisory Council". James Madison Institute. Archived from the original on June 12, 2016. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  46. ^ Hananokil, Eric (April 20, 2015). "'Clinton Cash' Author Peter Schweizer's Long History of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing". MediaMatters. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  47. ^ "Franken Writes Back". Media Matters. September 5, 2006. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  48. ^ Glenn Thrush (May 5, 2015). "Clinton Cash author: I like Marco Rubio". Politico (Podcast).
  49. ^ Carroll, Lauren (May 6, 2015). "'Clinton Cash' author: Hillary Clinton changed positions on India nuclear deal". PolitiFact. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  50. ^ Boyer, Peter (November 13, 2011). "Peter Schweizer's New Book Blasts Congressional Corruption". Newsweek. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  51. ^ "Biography". peterschweizer.com.
  52. ^ Green, Lloyd (January 29, 2022). "American muckrakers: Peter Schweizer, James O'Keefe and a rightwing full court press". The Guardian. Retrieved February 1, 2022.

External links[edit]