True or False?
Were the Clinton Campaign Emails Leaked by WikiLeaks Doctored?
While Kellyanne Conway claimed (falsely) Sunday that Hillary Clinton takes millions from countries that ‘hate women,’ Tim Kaine suggested the WikiLeaked emails were faked. Is he right?
By Linda Qiu and Lauren Carroll
Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on Sunday scolded “chest beaters” for criticizing the Republican nominee’s (false) claims of voter fraud while ignoring worrying donations to Hillary Clinton’s foundation.
“We respect the principles of American democracy,” Conway said on Meet the Press. But “if we’re so concerned about the principles of American democracy, as so many chest beaters were this week, ask Hillary Clinton why she takes tens of millions of dollars from countries that hate women, that disrespect women, that throw gays off of buildings?”
We found Conway is confusing a few points. Her statement rates Mostly False.
First, Clinton herself hasn’t taken donations from foreign countries, which is illegal for political candidates. The Clinton Foundation, however, has taken donations from countries that have poor records when it comes to their treatment of women and the LGBT community (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman).
Altogether, the foundation has received between $18 million and $50 million from these countries, which are allies of the United States. The donations supported the foundation’s charitable efforts.
Second, Conway’s use of the present tense implies the Clinton Foundation continues to accept these donations, while the latest gifts came in 2014. The foundation has agreed to cease accepting foreign donations should Clinton win the presidency.
And third, while many of these countries have laws that most would agree are not friendly to women or members of the LGBT community, they are not throwing “gays off of buildings.” That’s something done by ISIS.
Adult Saudi women must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel, marry, or exit prison, and may be required to provide consent to work or obtain access to health care, according to Human Rights Watch. They are also not allowed to drive or seek divorce.
Women in the UAE also have to seek permission from a male guardian to marry and, once married, the law mandates obedience to the husband. The country does not specifically prohibit domestic violence and allows for punishment with certain conditions.
In Qatar, the same provisions for marriage and obedience prevail, while marital rape and domestic violence are not criminalized.
Kuwait does not prohibit domestic violence, sexual harassment, or marital rape.
We asked the Trump campaign if Conway misspoke when she conflated ISIS’s actions with those countries that have donated to the Clinton Foundation. We did not hear back.
Tim Kaine on the WikiLeaks emails
Clinton and her campaign have sought to cast doubt on the authenticity of thousands of emails leaked by WikiLeaks showing the inner workings of Clinton’s campaign.
It’s not just that they came from Russian hackers in an attempt to meddle in the U.S. election.
But also that they might be doctored.
Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine raised that possibility Sunday in an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. Before posing a question about the email leak to Kaine, Todd said, “I know you have a blanket statement here: You don’t want to respond because you don’t believe that they have been confirmed.”
“Well, you know, Chuck, again these are connected to a Russian government propaganda effort to destabilize the election,” Kaine responded.
Kaine later added: “The one [email] that has referred to me was flat-out completely incorrect. So I don’t know whether it was doctored or whether the person sending it didn’t know what they were talking about. Clearly, I think there’s a capacity for much of the information in them to be wrong.”
We can’t answer that question definitively, so we can’t fact-check Kaine’s claim. Kaine’s answer can be seen as cover to distract from any controversial stories that may arise from the emails taken from campaign chairman John Podesta’s account.
But it also might be possibly correct in some cases, experts told us. The notion that a large percentage of the information is altered, however, is less likely.
Cybersecurity experts told us that there is precedent to support Kaine’s claim. While most of the emails are probably unaltered, they told PunditFact, there is a chance that at least a few have been tampered with in some way.
“I’ve looked at a lot of document dumps provided by hacker groups over the years, and in almost every case you can find a few altered or entirely falsified documents,” said Jeffrey Carr, CEO of cybersecurity firm Taia Global. “But only a few. The vast majority were genuine. I believe that’s the case with the Podesta emails, as well.”
“I would be shocked if the emails weren’t altered,” said Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative, citing Russia’s long history of spreading disinformation.
Experts pointed to the Democratic National Committee email hack that happened earlier this year. Metadata from the stolen and leaked documents showed the hackers had edited documents. For example, hackers were kicked out of the DNC network June 11, yet among their documents is a file that was created on June 15, found Thomas Rid, a war studies professor at King’s College London.
A few weeks later, Guccifer 2.0, the hacker believed to have Russian ties, released documents supposedly stolen from the Clinton Foundation. But security analysts reviewed the documents and found that they actually came from the DNC hacks, not the foundation. And some of the information was likely fabricated, like a folder conspicuously titled “Pay to Play.”
The Clinton campaign, however, has yet to produce any evidence that any specific emails in the latest leak were fraudulent. We asked the campaign, and it directed us to various news reports about the DNC hack, government concerns that Russia might fake evidence of voter fraud, and fake news sites spreading false information about the WikiLeaks emails.
Read the full stories at PunditFact.com.