The New York Times on Thursday published an article about the Clinton Foundation, its receipt of millions of dollars from foreign governments and other interests, and the U.S. government's involvement in Russia's stated goal to expand its control of the world's uranium market.
All while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
The NY Times didn't reach a conclusion, but one question looms very large: As Secretary of State, did Hillary influence an international deal giving a Russian company 20% ownership of America's uranium production, in return for millions of dollars of cash donations to the Clinton Foundation?
Here is a list of 11 questionable items forming a chain of events:
- September of 2005: Canadian Frank Giustra visits Kazakhstan with Bill Clinton. Days later, his company UrAsia wins a major uranium deal with the country.
- 2006: Giustra donates $31 million to the Clinton Foundation.
- February 2007: UrAsia merges with Uranium One and expands into the U.S..
- June 2008: Russian atomic agency Rosatom begins talks to acquire Uranium One.
- 2008 to 2010: Uranium One and UrAsia investors donate $8.65 million to Clinton Foundation.
- June 2009: Rosatom acquires 17% of Uranium One.
- 2010 to 2011: Millions more donated by Uranium One investors to Clinton Foundation.
- June 2010: Rosatom requests Committee on Foreign Investment (of which the State Department is a member and its approval is needed) to approve a majority ownership in Uranium One, promising not to purchase 100% of it nor take it private.
- June 2010: Bill Clinton receives $500,000 to speak at a conference held by the Russian investment bank involved in the Rosatom transactions.
- October 2010: Committee approves Rosatom's request to acquire a majority share in Uranium One.
- January 2013: Rosatom purchases remainder of Uranium One and takes it private.
The origins of the story were reported in the NY Times in 2008 by Jo Becker, a co-author of the recent NYT piece:
Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton....
Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.
The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.
Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month.
There are intricacies and subtleties to this story that aren't evident in the timeline.
For example, when Hillary assumed the job as Secretary of State, she assented to a limitation of the foundation's international activities and agreed to disclose contributors. It appears, at a minimum, there was incomplete follow-through upon these assurances.
Furthermore, those involved in the transactions have denied that any special privileges were sought and that the donations were completely unrelated. The former chairman of Uranium One said this to Bloomberg News:
“I have never met Hillary Clinton. This donation was made in support of Frank Giustra, my business partner and friend for more than 20 years. There was no thought of influencing anyone."
The Clinton campaign has denied that Hillary had any direct involvement in Rosatom's obtaining approval to complete the deal. A spokesman said that no one:
“...has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.”
On the other hand, an individual - requesting anonymity - with knowledge of the Clintons' fundraising operations, commented on the possible motivations for giving massive sums of money to the foundation:
“Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?”
The NY Times supported its article by referring to multiple interviews, public records evaluations, and Peter Schweizer's yet-to-be-released book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”
Even so, NYT draws no conclusions, as evidenced by the following two sentences that appeared right at the beginning:
“Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.”
At this point, there have been no announcements about governmental or criminal investigations into the story.