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Fact-checking ‘Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight’

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looks on during her primary night gathering at the Philadelphia Convention Center on April 26, 2016. (AP Photo) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looks on during her primary night gathering at the Philadelphia Convention Center on April 26, 2016. (AP Photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looks on during her primary night gathering at the Philadelphia Convention Center on April 26, 2016. (AP Photo)

Linda Qiu
By Linda Qiu May 20, 2016

A YouTube video mash-up of Hillary Clinton comments claims to show "Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight."  It’s been viewed more than 7 million times as of May 2016. (You can watch the video at the bottom of the story.)

But does the video get things right?

It begins with a back-and-forth between Clinton and CNN’s Anderson Cooper during the Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas in October 2015.

"You were against same-sex marriage. Now you're for it. You defended President Obama's immigration policies. Now you say they're too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the ‘gold standard.’ Now, suddenly, last week, you're against it," Cooper asked. "Will you say anything to get elected?"

"Well, actually, I have been very consistent. Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles," she responded. The video cuts off the rest of the sentence, "But, like most human beings — including those of us who run for office — I do absorb new information. I do look at what's happening in the world."

PolitiFact has documented Clinton’s shifting stances on a number of issues since 2008, including most mentioned in the video -- and a few not mentioned. Our Flip-O-Meter ratings are not value judgments on changed positions, which some say demonstrate flexibility and ability to compromise and others say are born from a lack of conviction or political expediency. The video, for instance, describes them as a lie.

That being said, we wanted to provide some additional context to the video of Clinton’s statements.

On same-sex marriage

The first Clinton contradiction highlighted by the video is on same-sex marriage. PolitiFact gave Clinton a Full Flop for her stance on the issue, but there’s some nuance the video leaves out.

From 1999 to at least 2007, she continuously opposed same-sex marriage while consistently supporting civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. She also spoke on the Senate floor against a proposed federal ban on gay marriage in 2004 and said she supports states making the decision for themselves in 2006.

Clinton reversed course and announced her support for gay marriage in 2013, as the viral video accurately notes. However, the video samples a 2014 interview Clinton did with NPR’s Terry Gross in which she seems to deny her changed position.

"You’re trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that’s just flat wrong," Clinton is heard saying in the video, "I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue."

But that’s not all the whole story. Before the excerpted part in the video, Gross asked, "Would you say your view evolved since the '90s or that the American public evolved, allowing you to state your real view?"

"I think I'm an American," Clinton responded. "And I think we have all evolved, and it's been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations."

On ‘core principles’

The video then segues to Clinton shifting between calling herself a progressive and a moderate. While it’s accurate and fair to charge Clinton with wearing multiple political labels, the video’s most damning evidence requires some additional context.

The video features CNN’s Cooper asking Clinton, "Just in July in New Hampshire, you told a crowd you, ‘take a backseat to none when it comes to progressive values.’ Last month in Ohio, you said you, ‘plead guilty to being kind of moderate and center.’ Do you change your political identity based on who you’re talking to? Just for the record, are you a progressive or a moderate?"

"I’m a progressive," Clinton says in the video before it cuts out to the next topic.

Here’s her next sentence: "But I'm a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I've had, even dealing with Republicans who never had a good word to say about me, honestly."

On her emails

There are still many unknowns in the email controversy, and the FBI is currently conducting an investigation. Though Clinton may be able to make the case that she "complied" with the rules, experts on government transparency and records preservations have told us her actions are hard to defend. On the other hand, it’s not clear at all whether she breached national security laws.

The YouTube video includes a clip of Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina arguing with Clinton over how many emails she’s turned over to the State Department.

Clinton says she has turned over about half. Out of over 60,000 emails on her private server, Clinton and her staff deleted 31,000 emails she says were personal and released the remaining 30,940.

But the video suggests the deleted emails may not have been personal by sampling a clip of former President Bill Clinton saying he’s only ever sent two emails. But that’s taken out of context and it was a joke, one that he’s made repeatedly.

The Bill Clinton quote comes from a panel Clinton moderated for the Clinton Global Foundation in June 2015. Clinton was referring to his email practices when he was president (starting around 46:50), more than a decade before Hillary Clinton set up her email server.

On Wall Street  

Next, the video features Clinton’s ties to Wall Street. This section is a mixed bag of information in terms of accuracy.

A clip of Clinton from the 2015 Las Vegas debate saying she told Wall Street to "cut it out" in 2007 is followed by chopped up comments Clinton actually made in 2007, in which she seems to hold homebuyers, not Wall Street, responsible for the housing crisis. This gives a misleading impression.

The 2007 comments are taken from Clinton’s speech at the Nasdaq stock exchange that December. Some argue that the speech was more sympathetic to the financial sector than Clinton has suggested, and she does say homeowners and borrowers should shoulder some of the blame for the housing crisis.

But the video leaves out the part when she also names irresponsible mortgage lenders and brokers, the government and regulators, credit rating agencies, speculators and Wall Street "which not only enabled but often encouraged reckless mortgage lending."

As PolitiFact has previously reported, Clinton called for more oversight and transparency in the financial sector in several speeches and dating back to March 2007. From then to 2008, she repeatedly suggested and introduced a bill to establish national standards and regulations for loan brokers and lenders.

The video also points out Wall Street has been contributing to Clinton’s campaign. This is accurate. PolitiFact looked into a viral image highlighting Clinton’s top 10 donors and found that five were financial firms, two were law firms that do a lot of corporate work, and two were media conglomerates.

On universal healthcare

Continuing the theme, the video then exhibits Clinton’s (somewhat hypocritical) waffling on universal health care between her 2008 campaign to her 2016 bid. This is accurate.

When she was running in 2008, Clinton aired an attack ad that said she "has the only health care plan that covers every American." We found that she was the only candidate that year, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, with a health care mandate for everyone — in other words, universal coverage.

"Since when do Democrats attack one another over universal health care?" she said, as excerpted in the viral video.

In 2016, Clinton and her surrogates repeatedly have criticized rival Bernie Sanders for his universal health care proposal. As we’ve previously reported, Clinton said single-payer "will never, ever come to pass" and now wants to build upon and defend Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, received a Mostly False rating for saying Sanders would empower Republicans "to take away health insurance for low-income and middle-income working Americans."

On Bosnia visit

Up next, the video highlights Clinton’s Pants on Fire claim that she landed "under sniper fire" when she visited Bosnia a decade earlier.

As the video aptly demonstrates, she arrived on the tarmac under no visible duress and was greeted by a child who offered her a copy of a poem.

Flying into Bosnia was dangerous in 1996 and Clinton later said she misspoke, but "it's hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn't dodge sniper bullets," we wrote in 2008.


Finally, the video concludes with Clinton’s flip-flop on the North American Free Trade Agreement — another accurate charge.

This is a point that Obama made in 2008, when he said that Clinton "was saying great things about NAFTA until she started running for president."

Despite the Clinton campaign’s protests, Obama’s claim is True. Clinton publicly supported NAFTA in 1996, in her 2003 memoir Living History, and in 2004.  But as a 2008 presidential candidate, Clinton said NAFTA was a mistake.

Clinton’s free trade zigzagging is not limited to just NAFTA. During her first bid for the White House, she opposed the bilateral free trade deals with South Korea and Columbia. As secretary of state, however, she supported both.

Similarly, Clinton called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the "gold standard in trade agreements" in 2012, but opposed it in the 2016 race. We rated her position on TPP a Full Flop.

You can see all of Clinton’s PolitiFact ratings here.

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Fact-checking ‘Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight’