Fake News: Peter Strzok's Wife, Who Is SEC Director, Could NOT Have Blocked All FBI Investigations Into Clintons

Hoax Alert

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Peter Strzok's Wife, Who Is SEC Director, Could NOT Have Blocked All FBI Investigations Into Clintons

Did Melissa Hodgman, wife of FBI agent Peter Strzok, block all FBI investigations of Clinton-related cases? No, that's not true and the article claiming she did directly contradicts itself. The headline making the claim was made up by a site that liberally copy-pastes content from other sites and then adds some made up facts to its own headlines and introductory paragraphs to make the story juicier so they can profit from the advertising income when people click through on the misleading headlines.

The story originated from an article published by YourNewsWire on July 22, 2018 titled "Peter Strzok's Wife, Who Is SEC Director, Blocked All FBI Investigations Into Clintons" (archived here) which opened:

Hours after the FBI found classified Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop, Peter Strzok's wife was promoted to a powerful position in the SEC and immediately blocked all criminal proceedings against the Clintons.

According to FBI sources, Peter Strzok and his wife Melissa Hodgman were instrumental in preventing Bill and Hillary Clinton from having to serve jail time for their numerous crimes.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail, which contains the made up "facts" about blocking investigations and criminal proceedings:

Peter Strzok's Wife, Who Is SEC Director, Blocked All FBI Investigations Into Clintons

Hours after the FBI found classified Clinton emails, Peter Strzok's wife was promoted to a powerful position in the SEC and blocked all criminal proceedings against the Clintons.

The rest of the article is mostly copy-pasted from right-leaning website TruePundit and is essentially speculative in nature:

INSURANCE: Hours After FBI Found Classified Hillary Emails on Weiner Laptop, Peter Strzok's Wife Was Promoted to Director of SEC Enforcement - True Pundit

Hours after the FBI found classified Hillary Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop, the wife of the FBI agent running the high-profile probe was promoted to a powerful position in the Securities and Exchange Commission, FBI sources said. This case keeps getting worse for the FBI and embattled agent Peter Strzok, the lead investigator on ...

It even admits it can all be a coincidence and then uses an anonymous souce to claim it wasn't, with no further backup:

Perhaps Hodgman's promotion was merely happenstance?

"There are no coincidences here," one FBI source told True Pundit. "Not with this crew. They wanted his wife in that SEC slot for a reason."

Hogdman wasn't even promoted to the top position at the SEC enforcement division: the page with director biographies on the SEC website lists Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin as the top directors. Hodgman was only named associate director. It is unclear how she could block any, let alone "all" FBI investigations from that position as the headline claims she did.

In fact the article directly contradicts that claim, noting that

a subsequent warrant was issued on Oct. 30, 2016 so that the FBI could use Huma Abedin's & Hillary's classified emails as evidence in the re-opened Clinton probe

In other words, two weeks after the Hodgman promotion the FBI was still investigating away.

At the same time, her husband, FBI agent Peter Strzok, was cheating on her with FBI-lawyer Lisa Page. So even if the promotion was inspired by a secret conspiracy, why would they expect her to help out her cheating husband? Some conspiracy website is probably thinking up a reason already, but unless it comes with hard evidence it is all just idle speculation and (in the case of YourNewsWire) just a shameless ploy to earn money through advertising by feeding gullible people the headlines they want to read.

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:

THE PEOPLE'S VOICE, INC. AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE.

The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. It appears the site has changed back to it's old name in the mean time but you can still see the NewsPunch name in the contact email address in the footer.

We wrote about yournewswire.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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