WaPo’s hit job on Gingrich

posted at 9:15 am on December 16, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Today’s Washington Post carries a story about a “curious case in the annals of the FBI,” but the only curious aspect of the story is why the Post published it — with the headline FBI considered a sting aimed at Newt Gingrich in 1997.  That implies that the arguable GOP frontrunner for President had committed some sort of conduct that was shady enough to get the FBI to propose an Abscam-like operation to take Gingrich down.  However, that’s not the case at all, but you have to get past the lead paragraph to figure that out:

It is a curious case in the annals of the FBI: The bureau considered a sting operation against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich after sifting through allegations from a notorious arms dealer that a $10 million bribe might get Congress to lift the Iraqi arms embargo.

The FBI ended up calling off the operation in June 1997. It decided there was no evidence that Gingrich knew anything about the conversations the arms dealer was secretly recording with a man who said he was acting on behalf of Gingrich’s then-wife, Marianne,according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

But details of the case, which became public this week in an article and documents posted online by a nonprofit journalist, show how a series of second- and third-hand conversations alleging that the top man in Congress might be for sale caught the attention of federal investigators.

So, let’s get this straight.  The FBI heard second- and third-hand that an arms dealer was bragging about having connections to Gingrich, who would singlehandedly lift the arms embargo on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, even though the Speaker had very little power to impact it, because a “cooperating witness” told them that he talked to someone who said he was acting on Marianne Gingrich’s behalf.    On the basis of this, the FBI thought about doing a “sting” on Gingrich, but passed on it because they had no evidence that Gingrich even knew any of this was taking place.

That took place fourteen years ago.  Oddly, it’s just coming to light now, through a website called DC Bureau, which published the story after the death of the “cooperating witness,” convicted felon Sarkis Soghanalian, whom DC Bureau interviewed “several times prior to his death[.]”  It includes Soghanalian’s salacious tidbits about Gingrich and his second wife:

The FBI document states that Soghanalian, Marianne Gingrich, Ash and Bennett spent several days together in Paris. Gingrich said “her relationship with her husband was purely a relationship of convenience,” the document states. “She told [Soghanalian] that she needed her husband for economic reasons, and that he needed to keep her close because she knew of all his ‘skeletons.’ ”

“She also told [Soghanalian], ‘It’s time for me to make money using my husband, and after we get started doing this, it will be easy,” the document says.

Marianne Gingrich calls this “hogwash,” and it’s not to difficult to see why.  She and Gingrich had been married 14 years by the time of this meeting in 1995, and they’d be divorced five years later, so it doesn’t appear that Gingrich was terribly afraid of “skeletons” nor she of life after divorce.  Furthermore, she had a job that paid her well and involved enough trust for her employer to send her to Paris to drum up investment business, which makes the claim that she was so dependent on her husband that she couldn’t afford to leave him look somewhat preposterous. In fact, if you read the DC Bureau’s story, Marianne says that the biggest economic problem in their household was Newt himself, who wasn’t very disciplined about handling the family finances.

At the end of the day, the FBI didn’t commence a sting against Gingrich because they had no evidence that he knew anything about Soghanalian or was taking bribes.  Now, suddenly, the documents mysteriously float to the surface 14 years later just as Newt Gingrich rises to the top of the polls (and perhaps as he may be sliding down them a bit).  How did those FBI files, which one would presume would be sealed, and the mysterious Mr. Soghanalian make their way to Joseph Trento, just in time for Gingrich’s presidential run?  Neither report explains how this information magically appeared just as Gingrich’s campaign finally started making traction.  And nothing in this story gives any indication that Gingrich was in any way corrupt as Speaker of the House.

This is a non-story.  It’s only slightly less egregious than the New York Times’ execrable Vicki Iseman hit job on John McCain just after he cinched the nomination.  It’s a hit job aimed at a Republican candidate that wouldn’t have passed the smell test in a newsroom had the politician in question been a Democrat.

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Comment pages: 1 2

WaPo not only one doing a hit job on Gingrich. Check out Ann Coulter in town hall:

“With Gingrich we get the worst of all worlds. He talks abrasively–offending moderates and galvanizing liberals–but then carries a teeny, tiny stick. …..”After Gingrich had been speaker of the house for a brief two years, the REPUBLICAN House voted 395-28 to reprimand him and fine him $300,000 for ethics violations.”

I totally agree with Ann Coulter. Nominating this trojan horse liberal windbag, posing as a conservative, would be an unmitigated disaster!!!! Does anybody still remember how easily Bill Clinton twisted the feckless Gingrich like a pretzel?

MaiDee on December 16, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Newt nomination would destroy the party.

Swerve22 on December 16, 2011 at 3:22 PM

The Washington Post’s only function is to lie about Republicans. It’s Macaca time all the time over there. To be honest, that paper isn’t fit for wiping the a$$ of my worst enemy.

Spirit Crusher on December 16, 2011 at 3:27 PM

This is a non-story. It’s only slightly less egregious than the New York Times’ execrable Vicki Iseman hit job on John McCain just after he cinched the nomination. It’s a hit job aimed at a Republican candidate that wouldn’t have passed the smell test in a newsroom had the politician in question been a Democrat.

It’s reminiscent of the allegations of adultery on the part of George H.W. Bush that were drummed up in 1992 in an attempt to equalize the scandal factor after Gennifer Flowers released recordings of phone conversations proving her years-long affair with Bill Clinton. Bush supposedly had cheated on Barbara with a VP aide who looked just like her (!) but he had never been seen alone with her, much less in an intimate embrace. The sole named source of anything resembling an eyewitness account was some guy who said that he thought Bush and the woman might be up to hanky-panky when they met for “work” on a single occasion.

The Bush charges hit the MSM just in time to draw attention away briefly from Clinton despite the fact that its single non-anonymous source – like Sarkis Soghanalian – was a dead man. (Eh, double-check schmouble-check, you can’t confirm details with a corpse, so let’s just assume he’s telling the truth.) A New York Post Page 1 story published the allegations, but despite the best efforts of the lamestreamers and Hillary (who mentioned it in a pre-election Vanity Fair interview but then claimed it was supposed to have been off the record), it didn’t make any traction. There’s no evidence anyone refused to vote for George pere because he was accused of being an adulterer — after all, that would only leave the ‘fessed-up horndog Clinton as an alternative (unless they were dumb enough to vote for Perot).

Oh, by the way: The author of the 1992 Post story was Susan Trento. Yeah, as in Joseph & Susan Trento of DC Bureau. Looks like they’ve served their purpose again — be there at the ready with a fresh, steaming pile to be thrown by a major media outlet at the GOP to see if it sticks.

L.N. Smithee on December 16, 2011 at 4:32 PM

This is just a taste of what would happen were Gingrich to win the GOP nomination.

The media will tear him limb from limb…the guy has some skeleton’s in his closet and the media will tear this guy up for the whole process…anyone who listens to NPR knows the kind of dirt they’re going to dig up on this guy.

IMO Newt is unelectable…the Republican nominee has to have a spotless personal/ethical record and be sharp enough and articulate enough to hold his/her own in debates/interviews with hostile journalists.

Such a candidate is not running unfortunately…Christy is the only guy that can hold his own.

bagadeez04 on December 16, 2011 at 7:30 PM

This is just a taste of what would happen were Gingrich to win the GOP nomination.

The media will tear him limb from limb…

bagadeez04 on December 16, 2011 at 7:30 PM

You don’t learn from history, do you?

What skeletons did Sarah Palin have in her closet? What happened to her?

What skeletons did Ken Starr have in his closet? What happened to him?

What skeletons did Clarence Thomas have in his closet? What happened to him?

Take a lesson, please. IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER. what skeletons a candidate has in his or her closet. The Democrats will do the same thing to any Republican candidate.

For which reason it is simply insane to let concerns about what the Democrats will do select our candidates for us. The slime bath is the same if the candidate is Jack the Ripper or Jesus the Christ. Democrats are Democrats, and character assassination is what they do. Pick the best candidate on other grounds, and then we’ll deal with the inevitable slime bath.

philwynk on December 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Comment pages: 1 2