Podesta Clashes With Bartiromo Over Russia Ties: ‘Go Back and Get Your Facts Straight’

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John Podesta, the chairman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, was a target of WikiLeaks during the election, but Wednesday he battled with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo over his own links to Russia.

Podesta blamed the Russians when his hacked emails were published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, asserting that Moscow was working to elect now-President Donald Trump. The U.S. intelligence community has said the hack was part of a broader Russian effort to interfere in the election.

But the longtime Clinton ally, who met with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss Russian meddling, has also faced allegations that he owned shares in a Kremlin-backed energy company, Joule Unlimited.

Bartiromo pushed Podesta on his association with the company, which she said was "widely reported" to be Kremlin-backed. Podesta served on the company's board for multiple years starting in 2011.

"You joined the board of a small energy company in 2011," Bartiromo said. "Two months later a Russian entity directly funded by the Kremlin invested $35 million in the company. You were given 75,000 shares in a Russian company which you failed to disclose when you became an Obama associate."

"Maria, that is not true. I fully disclosed and I was completely compliant," Podesta responded.

"You are picking through my emails that were stolen from the Russians and released by WikiLeaks and creating a story that is not true," he added.

Bartiromo continued to say he had shares in a "Russian company."

"Go back and get your facts straight, Maria," Podesta said.

"That's not true, John. We know you owned 75,000 shares," Bartiromo responded.

Podesta insisted that it was not a Russian company, but she responded that "it's backed by the Kremlin."

"The Russian company had a small investment in that company," Podesta said, before attacking her sources.

"Maria, maybe you're looking at widely reported information from InfoWars," he said, referring to a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Bartiromo defended herself by saying she got information from places like the Wall Street Journal. She then moved onto Democrats' general ties to Russia.

"There are much deeper ties to Russia on the Democratic side than there are on the Republican side," she said. "It's been your team that's been in bed with the Russians."

"Fox can do whatever it wants to do on this matter," Podesta replied. "The truth is that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin—at his direction, according to 17 U.S. intelligence agencies—interfered with the U.S. election to help elect Donald Trump."

"I'm surprised you're not concerned about that, that the Russians would hack … to commit crimes in the United States and then work with WikiLeaks," he continued.

"I am concerned about that, but I know that Russian meddling goes back decades," Bartiromo responded. "The story that Democrats have been riding, this Trump collusion, is simply not true, and we have no evidence of it."

Podesta retorted by citing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's connections to Russia.

"He had to leave because he lied about his contacts with the Russians," Podesta said of Flynn.

The White House forced Flynn to resign earlier this year after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

"There's a lot to investigate here, and I'm glad that the House Intelligence Committee has gotten back on track with a bipartisan investigation," Podesta said. "Senate Intelligence Committee is doing the same thing, [special counsel Robert] Mueller is doing the same thing, and we'll see where it all ends."

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is the deputy war room director at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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