Clinton Foundation: Depends on What the Definition of ‘Clinton Foundation’ Is Whether Hillary Violated Memorandum of Understanding

Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP
Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP

On Sunday, revelations from the forthcoming Clinton Cash bombshell book forced the Clinton Foundation to reluctantly issue an “apology” in an attempt to put up the growing firestorm engulfing the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Clinton Foundation.

At issue: the Clinton Cash revelation, now confirmed by the New York Times, that Hillary and Bill Clinton hid four foreign donations totaling $2.35 million that were given by Ian Telfer, the then-head of the Russian government’s uranium company, Uranium One. The Clintons took Telfer’s money even as the Russian company had lucrative business pending before Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. The hidden donations are clear violations of the Memorandum of Understanding Hillary Clinton signed with the Obama administration wherein she promised and agreed to publicly disclose all donations during her tenure as Sec. of State.

In a Sunday response, the Clinton Foundation issued a statement ironically titled, “A Commitment to Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability.”

“Today, our donor disclosure and foreign government contributor policy is stronger than ever,” it boasted.

The Clinton Foundation statement then turned to the axial issue of whether the Russian uranium company’s $2.35 million in donations were technically required to be disclosed. Their argument: the hydra-headed Clinton Foundation has 11 initiatives, one of which—the one Telfer funneled his money through—is known as the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP). The “Giustra” part of the name refers to billionaire Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra, a man who pledged $130 million to the Clintons’ foundation and whose deals helped transfer U.S. uranium to Russian control, according to the New York Times.

In its “apology,” the Foundation claims this:

The Clinton Foundation executes all of the work that CGEP does. CGEP does receive financial backing for projects from an independent Canadian charity called the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada), which Frank Giustra established so that Canadians could support the initiative’s valuable work and receive a charitable tax credit. CGEP (Canada) provides funding on a project-by-project basis and this money goes exclusively to CGEP projects, not to the Foundation’s general operating fund.

Like every contributor to the Foundation, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) is publicly listed as a donor on our website. But as it is a distinct Canadian organization, separate from the Clinton Foundation, its individual donors are not listed on the site. This is hardly an effort on our part to avoid transparency – unlike in the U.S., under Canadian law; all charities are prohibited from disclosing individual donors without prior permission from each donor.

Translation: the Clintons have returned to their age-old game of hyper-parsing and debating what the definition of “is” is, so to speak.

Here’s why.

The Clintons have to drive a perceptual wedge between the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership–Canada (which was originally named the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, or CGSGI) and the Memorandum of Understanding’s disclosure requirements.

There’s only one problem: as seen here on pg. 2, “I. Background on the Clinton Foundation,” the Memorandum of Understanding makes it crystal clear that the Clinton Foundation’s disclosure requirements refer to all the foundation’s initiatives, including the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI—later renamed the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership—Canada).


Put simply, Hillary promised to disclose all donations to the Clinton Foundation, including its Clinton Giustra initiative—the place where Ian Telfer made his four hidden donations while the pending transfer of U.S. uranium to the Russian government sat on Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s desk. And as for the suggestion that it did not disclose Telfer’s donations because he’s Canadian, that’s ridiculous, because the foundation disclosed the donations of Telfer’s longtime friend and fellow Canadian, Frank Giustra.

Even the liberal New Yorker, which interviewed the Clinton Foundation and asked them to explain their reasoning, agrees that all donations were supposed to be disclosed:

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.

The New Yorker goes even further, pointing out that the Clinton Foundation’s twisted logic “does not make a lot of sense unless you have an instinct for the most legalistic of legalisms…The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership—Canada has the Clinton name on it. Money given to the Canadian entity goes exclusively to the foundation…They are, in other words, effectively intermingled.”

The New Yorker also considers the alarming consequences involved in allowed the Clinton Team’s attempts to blur the lines and spin to stand:

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.

Bottom line: Hillary Clinton promised the Obama administration she would disclose all donations, including those to the Clinton Giustra initiative; the Memorandum of Understanding makes it crystal clear

Hillary was required to do so.

Instead, Hillary hid four foreign donations totaling $2.35 million that were given to her foundation by the head of the Russian government’s uranium company, Uranium One.

And now, after being caught by the New York Times and Clinton Cash, the Clinton Foundation offers these words of solace:

“So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.”


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