Debunking Trump’s ‘Hillary gave 20% of US uranium to Russia’ lie
During yesterday’s “Festivus” airing of grievances news conference, Donald Trump hammered on a claim – straight out of Peter Schweitzer’s fact-challenge smear polemic Clinton Cash – that Hillary Clinton gave 20% of America’s uranium to Russia.
It turns out, to use the immortal words of then-author Al Franken, that Trump is a lying liar:
A chapter in the book suggests that the Clinton family and Russia each may have benefited from a “pay-for-play” scheme while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, involving the transfer of U.S. uranium reserves to the new Russian owners of an international mining operation in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation.
The mining company, Uranium One, was originally based in South Africa, but merged in 2007 with Canada-based UrAsia Energy. Shareholders there retained a controlling interest until 2010, when Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, completed purchase of a 51% stake. Hillary Clinton played a part in the transaction because it involved the transfer of ownership of a material deemed important to national security — uranium, amounting to one-fifth of U.S. reserves — thus requiring the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), on which the U.S. Secretary of State sits.
During the same time frame that the acquisition took place, Schweizer claims in Clinton Cash, the Clinton Foundation accepted contributions from nine individuals associated with Uranium One totaling more than $100 million. …
The Uranium One deal was not Clinton’s to veto or approve
Among the ways these accusations stray from the facts is in attributing a power of veto or approval to Secretary Clinton that she simply did not have. Clinton was one of nine cabinet members and department heads that sit on the CFIUS, and the secretary of the treasury is its chairperson. CFIUS members are collectively charged with evaluating the transaction for potential national security issues, then turning their findings over to the president. By law, the committee can’t veto a transaction; only the president can. According to The New York Times, Clinton may not have even directly participated in the Uranium One decision. Then-Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, whose job it was to represent the State Dept. on CFIUS, said Clinton herself “never intervened” in committee matters.
The timing of most of the donations does not match
Of the $145 million allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One investors, the lion’s share — $131.3 million — came from a single donor, Frank Giustra, the company’s founder. But Giustra sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and at least 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.
Of the remaining individuals connected with Uranium One who donated to the Clinton Foundation, only one was found to have contributed during the same time frame that the deal was taking place, according to The New York Times — Ian Telfer, the company’s chairman.