(NEW YORK) — The Republican National Committee is taking a page out of Donald Trump’s campaign playbook and is planning to dredge through Bill Clinton’s past — in this case his embattled half-brother, Roger, according to a memo obtained first by ABC News.
The line of attack centers around questions the RNC raises about the propriety of longtime Clinton aide Justin Cooper being involved in purchasing Roger Clinton’s home in California through a limited liability corporation at a time the former president’s half-brother was struggling with back taxes. No wrongdoing is alleged.
“Cooper is Bill Clinton’s body man turned wheeler-dealer. He’s gone from making a modest salary working in the White House to setting up an LLC just to buy a home for the president’s brother to live in,” the memo reads.
“But how and why has he suddenly become Roger Clinton’s real estate agent and financier? Why would Cooper, despite living in Manhattan, be the one to purchase a home in California that was intended as someone else’s residence? And how did he get the money to do it?”
Despite the questions the memo raises, it appears that Cooper does not own the house — purchased for $857,000 — and never did.
Cooper served as a principal of Calle Mayor LLC, the limited liability company that purchased the home, according to the memo, which cited California state records.
A source familiar with the arrangement says the home is now held in a trust for which Bill and Chelsea Clinton are the trustees.
Before the trust, the ownership was structured as a limited liability corporation. Cooper simply filed the papers, but it was Bill Clinton who paid for the property, a source said.
A representative for Roger Clinton and Cooper had no comment.
In July 2015, the New York Times reported that the former president had purchased the house with a limited liability corporation when Roger Clinton was struggling with thousands of dollars in back taxes.
The RNC memo also attempts to tie Cooper to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, citing New York Timesreports that he had registered a domain name linked to the server, and held several private email addresses connected to the Clinton’s personal setup.
Cooper, who testified before the House Oversight Committee on his role with Clinton’s server, told lawmakers he became involved in Clinton’s server as she transitioned to the State Department from the Senate in 2009, and discussed the setup of the system. He was praised by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, for his testimony.
Some classified information ended up on the server, the use of which FBI Director James Comey called “extremely careless.” Clinton was criticized but clear of any wrongdoing.
The new effort to draw attention to Roger Clinton — an amateur musician whom the former president pardoned at the end of his term for a drug conviction in the 1980s — comes as the Republican nominee for president continues to hint at the former president’s indiscretions with women.
Trump said he decided against bringing up Clinton’s affairs during the first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton because Chelsea Clinton was in the audience.
“I didn’t want to say what I was going to say with Chelsea in the room,” he told ABC News after the debate.
At a rally in New Hampshire Thursday, Trump touched on the subject again, mentioning the effort to impeach Clinton for lying about his affairs with Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern.
“Impeachment for lying. Remember that?” Trump said. “The Clintons are the sordid past. We’ll be the very bright and clean future.”
Even as the national party joins the efforts to dredge up the Clinton’s history, some of Trump’s past advisers have warned against mentioning the former president’s infidelities.
“You’re never going to beat the Clintons in the mud. It’s not possible,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser, told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein in an interview.
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