Women hired to stir bullying at Trump rally
White House insists agitator is no friend Clinton: ‘I know nothing’ of staged anti-Trump protests
The White House moved Wednesday to distance itself from a Democratic dirty-tricks scandal amid Republican calls for an investigation and newly released footage revealing that a Hillary Clinton campaign consultant schemed to have women bullied at a Donald Trump rally.
The latest hidden-camera video posted by Project Veritas shows Aaron Black, an associate at the Democratic consulting firm Democracy Partners, brainstorming about how to make sure pro-Trump men bully hired female agitators.
“So we get people behind Trump when he’s at a rally, but we make sure it’s women and they are positioned next to men,” said Mr. Black. “We want images of the men bullying the women who are trying to hold their signs up. That’s what I’m going to do. That is what we’re going to do. That is the hit.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, called for the FBI to conduct a “serious criminal investigation,” while the Public Interest Legal Foundation filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and two political consulting firms.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the videos reveal a “fundamental threat to our democracy.”
“I have a very simple first question: Where is the FBI? Why is the FBI not investigating? You have a willful effort to foment violence, to break up a presidential campaign, to intimidate voters — where is the Federal Bureau of Investigation?” Mr. Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Footage released this week shows Democratic operatives discussing voter-fraud schemes and their work in hiring and training agitators — including the mentally ill, homeless and union members — to incite violence by baiting Trump supporters at campaign events.
During their final debate Wednesday night, Mr. Trump raised the reports of paid agitators and blamed Mrs. Clinton’s campaign directly for concocting the plan.
“She talks about violence at my rallies, and she caused the violence,” Mr. Trump said.
The scandal reached the Obama administration Wednesday after reports that Democracy Partners head Robert Creamer, who stepped down Tuesday over the uproar, has visited the White House 342 times, including 45 meetings with President Obama, since 2009.
Asked if Mr. Creamer could be called a friend of the president, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “That’s not how I would describe him.”
Mr. Creamer, a longtime political consultant who pleaded guilty to tax and banking violations in 2005, is married to Democratic Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky of Illinois, a close Obama ally.
Mr. Earnest said he had no information about Mr. Creamer’s trips to the White House, but cautioned that it is highly unlikely he had engaged in “one-on-one” meetings with the president.
The White House visitor logs reflect guests who have been cleared to enter the building, but do not indicate whether a visitor actually attended an event. Twelve of the events listed for Mr. Creamer had more than 1,000 attendees.
Mr. Earnest also condemned any effort to incite violence at political rallies, calling it “entirely inconsistent with the president’s view about community organizing and waging a vigorous campaign.”
“There should be no misunderstanding that the use
After days of silence, a tightlipped Hillary Clinton has insisted she knew nothing about anti-Trump protests staged by Democratic consultants working with her presidential campaign.
“I know nothing about this. I can’t deal with every one of his conspiracy theories,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters Wednesday at a post-debate press confab, referring to Republican Donald Trump.
She then cut off questions in footage posted by MSNBC, saying, “But I hope you all have something to eat and something to drink on the way back to New York. Thank you!”
The brief comment represented her first public remarks about hiddencamera videos released this week by the conservative group Project Veritas Action showing top Democratic operatives discussing voter fraud and paying protesters to incite violence at Trump campaign events.
Meanwhile, Clinton campaign consultant Zulema Rodriguez posted a statement Thursday defending her role in orchestrating demonstrations against Mr. Trump, insisting that she tried to keep the protests safe.
“I’ve always strived to make the protests I’ve organized safe places,” said Ms. Rodriguez. “I’ve willingly traveled across the country to connect people that were previously not connected, and have worked tirelessly to elevate the cause of immigration reform.”
She also said her comments on the “Rigging the Election” video released Monday were “taken out of context and selectively edited.”
“What was omitted and what I constantly repeated to the infiltrators was that my team and I work together to make sure everyone stays safe while exercising their rights. I believe this to my core,” said Ms. Rodriguez.
The video shows Ms. Rodriguez talking to an undercover investigator about her work with the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee while working at the Democratic National Convention in July.
She said had partnered with of violence or any other thing that could be construed as a dirty trick is not condoned by the president of the United States,” Mr. Earnest said. “It is not consistent with the kinds of values that we cherish in this democracy.”
Some of Wednesday’s uproar was directed at Project Veritas, which has made its share of enemies over the years for its undercover investigations targeting liberal groups and Democrats on issues such as voter fraud.
“Despite what the name might suggest, these videos have not often released the truth,” said Mr. Earnest, while the website Snopes said the films “reveal tidbits of selectively and (likely deceptively edited) footage absent of any context in which to evaluate them.”
“Unless his organization releases the footage in full, undertaking a fair assessment of their veracity is all but impossible,” said the Snopes article.
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe engaged in several spirited exchanges on social media with journalists such as “The Daily Show”’s Anthony De Rosa, who asked whether Mr. O’Keefe would release the “raw, unedited footage.”
Replied Mr. O’Keefe: “You are a producer for ‘The Daily Show.’ Are you willing to publish your raw video materials to accompany your segments?”
Mr. O’Keefe’s supporters argued that the accuracy of the videos is demonstrated by the Democratic reaction: Not only did Mr. Creamer step down from the campaign, but Americans United for Change national field director Scott Foval also was fired.
Quipped conservative pundit Guy Benson: “O’Keefe is a liar! Also, we’re firing the people he exposes on camera.”
Even though the videos ignited a firestorm on social media, the conservative Media Research Center blasted the three networks Wednesday for what it described as burying the story.
“While the media was focused on applauding Obama’s latest Trump bashing, they failed to notice that two top Democratic operatives … both lost their jobs after being caught on tape discussing how they helped incite violence at Trump rallies, circumvented election laws and even perpetrated voter fraud,” said the center’s Kyle Drennen. Democracy Partners’ Aaron Black on a protest in Chicago that led to the cancellation of a campaign event for Mr. Trump, and that her team “also did the Arizona one where we shut the highway down.”
Both protests occurred in March, shortly after she received a check for about $1,600 from Hillary for America, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Project Veritas spokesman Stephen Gordon challenged her interpretation of such protest activity as safe.
“Ms. Rodriguez seems to be forgetting that numerous violent fights broke out between protesters and drivers as a result of her actions and planned protest on the highway in Arizona,” Mr. Gordon said. “Shutting a highway down could have prevented emergency vehicles from passing through, which could have caused accidents. What she did was reckless, violent and selfish.”
Ms. Rodriguez said in an email she works as an “entrepreneur and consultant,” often on contract, in an effort to “encourage, empower and educate voters of color throughout the country.”