"A witness will testify against Hillary Clinton."

Bloggers on Sunday, July 30th, 2017 in a headline


Internet post misleads by saying witness will testify specifically against Hillary Clinton

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., before an Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Attempts to Influence U.S. Elections hearing on July 27, 2017. (Getty Images)

A story online that says a witness will speak out against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of a larger investigation into her actions is a muddled mix of real developments misleadingly retold.

"Breaking: A witness will testify against Hillary Clinton," read the headline on a July 30, 2017, post on Facebook users flagged the story as being potentially fabricated as part of the social media site’s efforts to combat fake news.

The post said that Clinton would be "held accountable for the many wrongdoings she has been charged with," although it never specifies what those charges may be. It said President Donald Trump had tasked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate Clinton’s ties to Russia.

That’s where the "key witness" comes in.

"Glenn Simpson has been friends with the Clinton family for many years," the post read. "Not coincidentally, he is also a co-founder of the firm Fusion GPS that disseminated the widely debunked fake news dossier containing over-the-top stories about Donald Trump going to Russian hotels."

The article said the Senate Judiciary Committee had subpoenaed Simpson. The post asked readers whether they thought Simpson "will share crucial information about how Hillary attempted to frame Donald Trump."

The story appears to have originated as a July 30 post on The byline on the post was Christopher Reynolds. We attempted to reach through the website’s contact form (the only method of contact available) but didn’t get a response.

The story isn't fake in the sense that it makes up all its content, but it does spin things to the point of being misleading or incorrect. The most notable issues are whether Clinton is really being investigated, and for what reasons the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to talk to Simpson.

Trump has publicly criticized Sessions for failing to investigate Clinton for deleting emails from her private server and for allegedly getting information from Ukraine during her presidential campaign.

The Justice Department has not publicly acknowledged an investigation into Clinton, although the Senate Judiciary Committee has demanded the agency disclose if it’s investigating the Ukrainian allegations. The Justice Department has until Aug. 3 to respond. House Republicans have requested FBI documents into the campaign investigation and have asked for a special counsel for a Clinton probe.

The Senate committee has been looking into the extent of Russian influence on the 2016 election.

Simpson is a real person. He is a former journalist who is a founding partner of opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Simpson was initially being subpoenaed for a hearing, but not explicitly to expose Clinton. The committee wanted to compel him to discuss details of his company’s Trump dossier, which became public in January 2017.

Simpson wanted to protect the Democratic-leaning client who hired Fusion GPS to create the Trump dossier, according to the Daily Beast.

Simpson had originally intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, but struck a deal in which he would provide a transcribed interview. The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed and withdrew its subpoena.

We couldn’t find any proof that Simpson was "friends with the Clinton family," although the New York Post reported that Fusion GPS was "actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary Clinton, anti-Trump agenda."

But trying to protect the identity of a Clinton ally who paid for opposition research against Trump is not the same as testifying against Clinton.

In addition to the Trump opposition report, Fusion GPS also had reportedly worked to ease sanctions against Russia, through ties with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. She’s the same lawyer Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had met in a controversial and previously undisclosed 2016 meeting.

Our ruling

Bloggers said, "A witness will testify against Hillary Clinton."

The post used details from several real news events in a way that would lead readers to draw some unproven conclusions. The article said that a founding partner in an opposition research firm was being called to testify against Clinton.

Simpson was being asked to discuss details about a dossier filled with unsavory (and largely unsubstantiated) details about Trump as part of an investigation into Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election.

We rate this statement False.

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"A witness will testify against Hillary Clinton."
in a headline
Sunday, July 30, 2017


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