Conspiracy Alert: Russia probe started from man with ties to Hilary Clinton

Right-wing news is pushing a new nutjob conspiracy theory to discredit the FBI and the Mueller investigation.

This one is surrounding Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, who reported George Papadopoulos’ drunken boasts that Russia was working with the Trump campaign to the FBI, which then launched the Russia probe.

The theory, first floated in this Hill article, is that Downer gave $25 million to the Clinton Foundation to fight AIDS, therefore because he has a tie to Hillary Clinton the entire investigation is bogus.

A couple of problems.

First, it makes zero logical sense. A claim is true or false regardless of the source, and George Papadapolous did make these statements and he’s also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts and collusion with Moscow.

Second, the article completely obscures the fact that Downer at the time was the Australian Foreign Minister, and as part of Australia’s overall commitment to fighting epidemic such as AIDS, it was his responsibility to direct billions of dollars each year to many different charities. One of the various charities was the Clinton Foundation, who had an 4/4 rating from Charity Navigator and an A rating from Charity Watch, and was given a small fraction of Australia’s aid budget.

The Australians dedicate over 2 billion USD to development assistance each year and the Australian government, not any individual, is the bilateral donor.

So for this conspiracy theory to stand, it had to be Downer’s own money, it wasn’t, it had to be directed at Hilary Clinton, it wasn’t, and it had to be unique or substantial, it wasn’t.