Before Trump: Emails show Clinton pal pushed investigation of Obama’s origins

by WorldTribune Staff, September 20, 2016

Longtime Hillary Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal during the 2008 Democratic primaries sought to plant news articles on Barack Obama’s Kenyan ties and Obama’s ties to “controversial Muslim groups” in Kenya, newly released emails show.

Journalist James Asher, the former Washington bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, said Blumenthal urged him in 2008 to investigate whether Obama was born in Kenya.

Sidney Blumenthal advised Bill Clinton during his presidency before joining Hillary Clinton's team.
Sidney Blumenthal advised Bill Clinton during his presidency before joining Hillary Clinton’s team.

Asher also wrote on Twitter that, in 2008, Blumenthal told him during a face-to-face meeting that Obama was born in Kenya. Blumenthal, a former journalist and Bill Clinton White House aide, denied the accusation, telling Fox News that what Asher claimed “never happened.”

The new revelations are highly embarrassing for the Clinton camp and the Democratic Party, who have gone to great lengths to pin the “birther” issue on Donald Trump.

On Sept. 16, Asher repeated the allegation that Blumenthal asked him to investigate Obama after Clinton slammed Donald Trump for his 2011 campaign to force Obama to release his long-form birth certificate to prove that he was born in Hawaii.

Clinton said that the voters should not elect a candidate who was involved in birtherism, which she called a racist theory.

A March 17, 2008 email from Blumenthal to Asher, who now serves as executive director of the progressive group Injustice Watch, read: “Jim: On Kenya, your person in the field might look into the impact there of Obama’s public comments about his father. I’m told by State Dept officials that Obama publicly derided his father on his visit there and that was regarded as embarrassing and crossing the line by Kenyans for whom respect for elders (especially the father, especially a Muslim father, in a patrilineal society) is considered sacrosanct. Sidney.”

According to a report by The Daily Caller, Asher told the LA Times that “Blumenthal suggested he send a reporter to investigate Obama’s connections to Raila Odigna, a candidate for Kenya’s president at the time who claimed to be Obama’s cousin. Asher said that Blumenthal asserted there were links between Odinga and ‘controversial Muslim groups.’ ”

Shashank Bengali, the McClatchy bureau chief in Nairobi during that period, was dispatched by Asher to investigate Obama. His reporting found no evidence to support the claim that Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii.

“Jim (Asher) asked me to look into Obama’s ties to Kenya and sent a number of tips to check out and one of the things I looked into was the unfounded rumor that Obama was born in Kenya,” Bengali said. “I don’t have any specific knowledge where that tip would have come from. Jim’s instructions were just to look at everything.”

Asher said that he does not have Blumenthal’s suggestion to investigate Obama’s birthplace in writing because the suggestion was provided in person in Asher’s Washington, D.C. office.

“Blumenthal visited the Washington Bureau of McClatchy, where he and I met in my office. During that conversation and in subsequent communications, we discussed a number of matters related to Obama. He encouraged McClatchy to do stories related to Obama and his connections to Kenya,” Asher told his former employer.

Clinton reportedly continues to take advice from Blumenthal, who is referred to by some in the political world as “Sid Vicious.”

Politico reported earlier this year that Blumenthal has stayed in touch with his longtime friend and provides her political advice. He did the same while Clinton served as secretary of state, emailing her intelligence reports, political gossip and advice while she was in office. Blumenthal did that even though the Obama White House blocked him from taking a job at Clinton’s State Department because of his dirty tricks during the 2008 primaries.

Blumenthal regularly forwarded anti-Obama information to his vast network of journalist friends and political operatives during the 2008 campaign.

Blumenthal also worked for the Clinton Foundation during much of Clinton’s State Department tenure. He also worked for Media Matters, a left-wing organization operated by Clinton ally David Brock.