The Times has reported that people involved in a series of Canadian uranium-mining deals channelled money to the Clinton Foundation while the firm had business before the State Department. And, in one case, a Russian investment bank connected to the deals paid money to Bill Clinton personally, through a half-million-dollar speaker’s fee. There were a number of transactions involved, and corporate name changes, but, basically, a Canadian company known as Uranium One initially wanted American diplomats to defend its Kazakh uranium interests when a Russian firm, Rosatom, seemed about to make a move on them; and then, after the company decided to simply let Rosatom acquire it (through Rosatom’s alarmingly named subsidiary, ARMZ), Uranium One needed State Department approval. (The approval was necessary because Uranium One controlled American uranium mines and exploration fields, a strategic asset.)
The Times says that the donations were not properly disclosed—the paper confirmed them by looking at Canadian tax records. Complicating matters, Uranium One’s corporate forebear had acquired the Kazakh interests after its major shareholder, Frank Giustra, travelled with Bill Clinton to Kazakhstan in 2005 and met with the country’s leader. Giustra sold his interest in the company in 2007, according to the Times, and so was not involved in the ARMZdealings. But Giustra has put tens of millions of dollars into the foundation’s work; the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which bears his name, is a formal component of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. And Ian Telfer, the Uranium One chairman, whose family foundation donated the $2.35 million dollars, said that it had done so because he wanted to support that coöperation: “Frank and I have been friends and business partners for almost 20 years.” He told the Wall Street Journal that he’d pledged the money in 2008, before the sale was on the table. Telfer also said that he’d never talked about uranium with Hillary Clinton. After the story came out, Giustra issued an angry statement, calling it baseless speculation and “an attempt to tear down Secretary Clinton and her presidential campaign.” He added a note of Canadian admonishment: “You are a great country. Don’t ruin it by letting those with political agendas take over your newspapers and your airwaves.”
Brian Fallon, a Clinton campaign spokesman, told the Times, “To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless.” There have been reports that other companies—Boeing, for example—gave money to the foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State and they had business before the department. The Uranium One story is more troubling, and potentially damaging, because of the personal ties, the foreign interests, the opacity, and the denouement, which involves Putin allies publicly gloating over Russia’s increased dominance of the world’s uranium supplies. The Times was tipped off to the story by a forthcoming book, “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer, which a Clinton campaign spokesman has called a “smear project.” The Clinton people and others argue that Schweizer has an expressly conservative agenda, visible in his previous work, and ties to Republican candidates. The Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, addressing those concerns, said that, though she was troubled by the way the Times had described its relationship with Schweizer as “exclusive,” the paper had done its own reporting, and the story addressed valid questions about a Presidential candidate.
Read the rest of the story at The New Yorker.