Friday, November 3, 2017

Stop the Presses: More Juicy, Shocking Details on Hillary and the Uranium One Mega-Scandal

Am I a big fan of Hillary Clinton's? Nope. I alternately admired and admonished her throughout her political career. And now I kinda wish she'd just take up the ukulele, buy an island in the South Pacific someplace, and go away. 

But the breathless, hyperbolic claims from the mainstream right-wing media that Clinton gave 20 percent of our country’s uranium to Russia in some sort of high crime just don't hold up. They are laughably false. This is treason without a reason, folks. Another bogus Clinton scandal. 

There were no secret midnight meetings with Putin. No collusion with Russia. No quid pro quo, as far as I can tell. And actually nothing inappropriate went on. But you are of course free to believe all the preposterous hype. 

This all started when Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear power agency, bought a majority stake in a Canadian company that has mines and land in the US that account for 20 percent of the US uranium capacity, not actual produced uranium. The State Department approved the sale in 2010.

The uranium in question is not for building nuclear bombs, it is for nuclear power. The US has nuclear power plants and of course nuclear weapons, but 90 per cent of the uranium used in the US is imported from countries like Canada and Kazakhstan, according to the Department of Energy.

The sale of the Canadian company was actually approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFUS). Its nine members unanimously approved the deal. This interagency group actually includes the following departments: State, Defense, Treasury, Commerce, Energy, and Homeland Security. 

The US attorney general’s office also has a say, as does the US Trade Representative, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The purchase was ultimately approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is also a member of CIFUS.

Clinton's State Department was one of nine federal agencies and several independent federal and state regulators that agreed to this deal. And only Obama, not Hillary, could have formally nixed it, and there was no reason to.

Since Russia doesn't have legal rights to export uranium, its goal with this buy, some experts believe, was to gain access to the company’s uranium assets in Kazakhstan. But there is no security threat here, folks. This was not collusion. It was a business deal that literally no one at any of these many  departments opposed.

The Clinton Foundation did receive some money from at least one Uranium One investor, but the claims made by Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and other reactionary blowhards that this is a quid-pro-quo scandal is nonsense.

The fact that President Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to give a speech to a conference in Moscow in 2010 is interesting. And I have stated before that some of the Clinton donors are scoundrels and are troubling. 

But in the Uranium One deal, there is no evidence of any sort of returned favor. The primary Uranium One donor to the foundation, Frank Giustra, divested himself from his stake in the company three years before it was sold, and 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.

There is no evidence that the donations to the foundation or the speaking fee had any influence on the approvals granted by the NRC or the Committee on Foreign Investments. This is just another example of the desperate right-wing media's effort to get folks to pay attention to something/anything other than this profoundly corrupt president.

We are seeing it with the "dossier" business, as well. That's simply a candidate paying for opposition research. Every candidate does it. The difference? The people Clinton paid to find dirt on Trump are legitimate political operatives who were in fact first hired by a Republican opponent of Trump's.

However, the people the Trump campaign apparently sought out for dirt on its opponent were the Russians. That's collusion, with a hostile foreign power, to influence an American election, any way you slice it, and it's despicable and un-American.

The Uranium One business is a non-scandal perpetrated by a desperate, ethically challenged handful of conservative media pundits who are trying to move the negative attention away from Trump, who's wholly corrupt presidency is hanging by a thin thread.

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