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Clinton Aides Kept Tabs on ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’

Then U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton outside the White House, in September 1999. Photographer: Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Then U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton outside the White House, in September 1999. Photographer: Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Clinton White House kept a dossier on what Hillary Clinton once called the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

The binder of opposition research on Republicans, part of today’s release of roughly 7,500 pages of documents from the Bill Clinton presidential library, was indexed with topics ranging from “Richard Mellon Scaife -- The Wizard of Oz Behind The Foster Conspiracy Industry” to “Communications on the Net Between Congressional Republicans and Right Wing Conspiracy Theory Proponents.”

Its contents mirror the allegation that Hillary Clinton famously lobbed at Republicans in a January 1998 television interview.

“The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he ran for president,” she said.

The documents provide insight into former President Bill Clinton’s time in office as well as the role of his wife, who went on to serve as a U.S. senator from New York, secretary of state and is a potential candidate for the Democratic president nomination in 2016.

The research file, kept in the office of special counsel Jane Sherburne, laid out a “communication stream of conspiracy commerce” theory.

Conspiracy Stream

“This is how the stream works,” the author of the document, who isn’t identified, wrote. “First, well-funded right wing think tanks and individuals underwrite conservative newsletters,” then post them on the Internet “where they are bounced all over the world” before landing in mainstream media. “After the mainstream right-of-center American media covers the story, congressional committees will look at the story” and then “the story now has the legitimacy to be covered” by everyone else.

Richard Mellon Scaife, the newspaper publisher and Mellon fortune heir, is the central player identified in the dossier. He is singled out for sowing doubt about whether White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster committed suicide and for his financial backing of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican organizations.

“Scaife uses his financing of the fringe, right-wing publications and non-profits to create a communications stream of conspiracy commerce,” the author wrote. “The stream effectively conveys the rantings of the fringe into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media.”

Early Signs

Although the research file is undated, the last newspaper clippings in it are from 1995, suggesting the idea that Republicans were building a network against the Clintons had taken hold in the administration long before the former first lady articulated it on television.

Scaife years later praised the former first lady in an opinion article published days before the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary, in which she and then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama were on the ballot.

“I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today,” he wrote in his newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “And it’s a very favorable one indeed.”

Clinton won the state.

Scaife also has donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to what is now known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, according to records the nonprofit organization has made public.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Allen in Washington at jallen149@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net Joe Sobczyk

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