Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Clinton Uranium Connection...

Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth



Hillary Rodham Clinton certainly has a bit of a baggage problem. Given the controversy around foreign money and the Clinton's various organizations one must acknowledge the controversy over, and skepticism about the Clinton's ethics is well founded. Benghazi and other issues aside this one may very well result in a complete unraveling of her campaign and thus presidential aspirations.

Clips from The New Yorker.

The Times sums it up this way:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million … Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.


SKIP

1. Was there a quid pro quo? Based on the Times reporting, there was certainly a lot of quid (millions in donations that made it to a Clinton charity; a half-million-dollar speaker’s fee) and multiple quos (American diplomatic intervention with the Russians; approvals when the Russian firm offered a very “generous” price for Uranium One). The Clinton perspective is that, although the approvals were delivered by the State Department when Clinton led it, there is no evidence that she personally delivered them, or of the “pro” in the equation. The Clinton campaign, in its response to the Times, noted that other agencies also had a voice in the approval process, and gave the Times a statement from someone on the approvals committee saying that Clinton hadn’t “intervened.” The Clinton spokesman wouldn’t comment on whether Clinton was briefed about the matter. She was cc’d on a cable that mentioned the request for diplomatic help, but if there is a note in which she follows up with a directive—an e-mail, say—the Times doesn’t seem to have it.

This speaks to some larger questions about political corruption. How do you prove it? Maybe the uranium people simply cared deeply about the undeniably good work the foundation is doing, and would have received the help and approvals anyway. In cases like this, though, how does the public maintain its trust? Doing so becomes harder when the money is less visible, which leads to the second question:

2. Did the Clintons meet their disclosure requirements? The Times writes, of the $2.35 million from Telfer’s family foundation, “Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.” This is one of the more striking details in the story, because it seems so clear-cut that the donation ought to have been disclosed. Moreover, the Times says that the foundation did not explain the lapse. I also asked the foundation to explain its reasoning. The picture one is left with is convoluted and, in the end, more troubling than if the lapse had been a simple oversight. The legalisms can be confusing, so bear with me: the Clinton Foundation has several components, including the Clinton Global Initiative and—this is the key one—the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, formerly known as the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative. The memorandum of understanding makes it clear that the donor-disclosure requirement applies to each part of the foundation.

Craig Minassian, a Clinton Foundation spokesman, pointed out, though, that there are two legally separate but almost identically named entities: the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada). The second one is a Canadian charitable vehicle that Giustra set up—doing it this way helps Canadian donors get tax benefits. It also, to the foundation’s mind, obliterates the disclosure requirements. (There are also limits on what a Canadian charity is allowed to disclose.) Minassian added, “As complex as they may seem, these programs were set up to do philanthropic work with maximum impact, period. Critics will say what they want, but that doesn’t change the facts that these social enterprise programs are addressing poverty alleviation and other global challenges in innovative ways.” Minassian compared the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) to entirely independent nonprofits, like AmFAR or Malaria no More, which have their own donors and then give money to the foundation’s work.

This does not make a lot of sense unless you have an instinct for the most legalistic of legalisms. Unlike AmFAR, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) has the Clinton name on it. Money given to the Canadian entity goes exclusively to the foundation. Per an agency agreement, all of its work is done by the foundation, too. The Web site that has the C.G.E.P. name on it also has the Clinton Foundation logo and Bill Clinton’s picture; it also has a copyright notice naming the Canadian entity as the site’s owner. Anyone visiting the site would be justifiably confused. They are, in other words, effectively intermingled.

And what would it mean if the Canadian explanation flew—that the Clintons could allow a foreign businessman to set up a foreign charity, bearing their name, through which people in other countries could make secret multi-million-dollar donations to their charity’s work? That structural opacity calls the Clintons’ claims about disclosure into question. If the memorandum of understanding indeed allowed for that, it was not as strong a document as the public was led to believe—it is precisely the sort of entanglement one would want to know about. (In that way, the Canadian charity presents some of the same transparency issues as a super PAC.) At the very least, it is a reckless use of the Clinton name, allowing others to trade on it.


3. Did the Clintons personally profit? In most stories about dubious foundation donors, the retort from Clinton supporters is that the only beneficiaries have been the world’s poorest people. This ignores the way vanity and influence are their own currencies—but it is an argument, and the foundation does some truly great work. In this case, though, Bill Clinton also accepted a five-hundred-thousand-dollar speaking fee for an event in Moscow, paid for by a Russian investment bank that had ties to the Kremlin. That was in June, 2010, the Times reports, “the same month Rosatom struck its deal for a majority stake in Uranium One”—a deal that the Russian bank was promoting and thus could profit from. Did Bill Clinton do anything to help after taking their money? The Times doesn’t know. But there is a bigger question: Why was Bill Clinton taking any money from a bank linked to the Kremlin while his wife was Secretary of State? In a separate story, breaking down some of the hundred million dollars in speaking fees that Bill Clinton has collected, the Washington Post notes, “The multiple avenues through which the Clintons and their causes have accepted financial support have provided a variety of ways for wealthy interests in the United States and abroad to build friendly relations with a potential future president.”


4. Putting aside who got rich, did this series of uranium deals damage or compromise national security?
That this is even a question is one reason the story is, so to speak, radioactive. According to the Times, “the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.” Pravda has said that it makes Russia stronger. What that means, practically, is something that will probably be debated as the election proceeds.

5. Is this cherry-picking or low-hanging fruit? Put another way, how many more stories about the Clintons and money will there be before we make it to November, 2016? The optimistic view, if you support Hillary Clinton or are simply depressed by meretriciousness, is that the Times reporters combed the Schweizer book and that this story was the worst they found. The pessimistic view is that it was an obvious one to start with, for all the reasons above, and that some names that stand out less than Uranium One and ARMZ will lead to other stories. Are the Clintons correct in saying that there is an attack machine geared up to go after them? Of course. But why have they made it so easy?

Certainly the controversy surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the democratic party nomination and ultimately the presidency of the United States of America is now clearly and fairly in question. For those looking for an alternative to the array of questionable GOP candidates these questions of ethics and probity ought to case one great pause. I know the likelihood of me trusting Clinton has sunk to a new low.

Full article BELOW THE FOLD.


14 comments:

  1. Even if I probably would not vote for her, I'd much rather see Warren, a relatively clean politician, run in the Dem spot. Will Hart has a list of pragmatic Democrats he has recommended, but I don't think any have interest.

    I think, though, due to the weakness of the scandal-soaked Hillary, who seems to be running mainly on a sexism-tinged sense of entitlement (the vote for me because I'm a woman instead of actual valid reasons, and my Presidency seems inevitable, there will be a nice large list of Democrats running this time.

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  2. I gather that Bubba's speaking fees went up dramatically once Hillary became Secretary of State. That is either suspicious or yet another Festivus miracle.

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  3. There will not be a large list of Democrats, dmarks, and this issue will not take Hillary down at all.

    We're well into 2015 now, and the GOP is chock full of peanuts, while the Democrats field a handful.

    The right's been crying wolf about the Clinton's for over twenty years now, and the general public has long since tuned it out. Besides, all the righties have is to complain about how well Clinton games a system they full and well and entirely support.

    JMJ

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  4. Jersey: I have no lack of confidence in the Democratic peanut can to shake out more nuts as we move toward the election.

    My real main point is, it is too early to predict. By this time in the lead-up to the 2008 election, Barack Obama had already declared his candidacy by this time. But did anyone in late April 2007 really think he would win the nomination OR Presidency?

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  5. Jersey, come on man, the point is there appears to be the likelihood of impropriety. Does this not warrant due diligence on the part of the media to to at least question these circumstances? It's not like the source quoted here is Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Laura Ingram, Ann Coul;ter, or Sean Hannity.

    And, yes, you are absolutely correct Jersey. The GOP has supported gaming the system as well as democrats and the Clinton's. But two (potential and or actual) l wrongs a right does not make.

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    Replies
    1. I agree RN. I am not impressed by Republicans disliking Hillary. That's usual and expected. When those on "her side" question her, that can mean something.

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  6. So JMJ you are comfortable with not having a choice. Get in line and pull the handle for H.
    BJ and H have a long history of when facts come out against them they don't defend them selves they just attack the accuser. Remember the right wing conspiracy. Unfortunately for our outstanding and through media this latest "scandal" was uncovered in Canada.
    Seems to be a democrat mantra, lets be the first not the best. With no qualifications first black president, with no qualifications (or rather I was married to a president and logged millions of miles with no results which make me qualified) the first female.

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    1. Skud said: "or rather I was married to a president and logged millions of miles with no results which make me qualified..."

      Stepping outside the partisan divide, Hillary served a complete Presidential term in a top level Cabinet post, with significant power and international visibility. She was elected to, and served more than one term in the United States Senate. That makes her middle of the pack, in terms of qualifications/experience.

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    2. correction: at least middle of the pack, in my view.

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  7. skudrunner, your comment is mostly boiler plate conservative talking points. Short on subject long on innuendo.I'm certain it plays well on the reactionary right wing John Birch blogs you visit. Not so much here unless you have reference points or links.

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  8. "Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton"

    Points came from your posted article. Guess I need to consider the source.
    So AP’s Matt Lee asked Ms. Psaki an obvious question: “Off the top of your head, can you identify one tangible achievement that the last QDDR of Secretary Clinton resulted in?”

    No, not really. She punted.

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  9. And I stand by the concerns raised in my posted article and remain concerned about Hillary Rodham Clinton's probity. As it plays out we will know more.

    And, I am guessing here but if it turns out like the Benghazi investigations did you will not accept the conclusions.

    I reread your prior comment. Nothing more need be said.

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  10. You guys are way too superficial here.

    I am not offering my personal opinion of this affair itself at all. I'm saying that because of twenty years of crying wolf it's very hard for the her detractors to get anyone to take them seriously anymore, regardless of the merit. As well, the very system that allows for this sort of activity is the very system supported by the GOP, who, in fact, in their new platform so far, want to make it even worse.

    JMJ

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    Replies
    1. Good enough points, Jersey. but I am referring mainly the the primary process, and to detractors and competitors within her own party.

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