Trump, some Republicans, and rightwing media are back to one of their old tricks to deflect the increasing scrutiny of the president’s Russian connections – bring back a previously discredited story about Hillary Clinton, Russia and uranium. Trump on Tuesday and Wednesday raised the point again followed by the usual suspects. Breitbart, for instance, appears to be publishing some version of this on a daily basis. Similarly the Fox News site is not dropping the story nor is its television equivalent abandoning it. For example, here’s a link to Sinclair commentator, Sebastian Gorka, appearing with Sean Hannity arguing that Clinton’s actions are like the Rosenbergs in the 1950s. Gorka tells us:
This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did and those people got the chair. Think about it.
Not as extreme but still pushing the same point is this morning’s Wheeling Intelligencer editorial which wants lawmakers to probe Hillary’s actions:
That happened during a series of transactions from 2009 through 2013. Clinton was secretary of state during the same period.
A Canadian firm had purchased the U.S. uranium rights, then was itself bought by Rosatom, the Russian company. Because of the strategic importance of the deal, it had to be approved by several U.S. agencies, including the State Department. At every step of the way, the go-ahead was given in Washington.
Meanwhile, some of the Canadian and Russian figures involved were pouring donations into the allegedly charitable foundation established by the secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. The contributions may have totaled as much as $145 million.
As I’ve noted previously, this story has been debunked any number of times by mainstream media. But since the Trump defenders have brought it back, several news sources have re-examined the story. Here’s Newsweek:
The Hillary Clinton Russia Uranium One Conspiracy Theory Doesn't Make Any Sense
From the article:
A conspiracy theory involving uranium, Russians, bribery and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed to trigger a congressional probe this week. But if the story seems unbelievable, well, that's exactly what it is, some expert observers said.
“I have to say that this is one of those things where reasonable people cannot disagree: There just aren’t two sides,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear materials and nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.
Here’s the conservative business magazine Forbes’s headline for their story:
Claims of Clinton-Russia Uranium Collusion Are A Real Empty Barrel
(If you google "Clinton uranium Russia", you’ll certainly find more sources.)
And the factchecking sites all find fault with these charges: see, for example, either the Politifact or Factcheck site for their analysis. The Washington Post’s fact checking crew came to a similar conclusion:
Trump and his campaign claim that Clinton “gave” or “handed over” 20 percent of American uranium rights to the Russians. Through the Uranium One deal, the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company does now have control over 20 percent of U.S. uranium extraction capacity. But it cannot export the uranium.
In 2010, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the sale of the majority of the shares to the Russians. The State Department was one of nine agencies on the committee that approved the deal. The deal was also separately approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
There is no evidence Clinton herself got involved in the deal personally, and it is highly questionable that this deal even rose to the level of the secretary of state. Theoretically, as Schweizer says, Clinton could have intervened. But even then, it ultimately would have been Obama’s decision whether to suspend or block the deal.
Here's their decision (note – “Four Pinocchios” is the most that they give):
We wavered between Three and Four Pinocchios. Trump so often uses broad-brushed language that pushes him into Four Pinocchio territory, and this is yet another one of those cases. He specifically names Hillary Clinton as the active agent in the Uranium One deal, saying she “gave them” or “handed over” uranium to the Russians, but that is not the case. Then, he further claimed the sale went forward in exchange “for a big payment.” There’s no evidence for that claim either.
None of this is new and the sources attacking Clinton know that. Do any of them care about not being truthful or accurate? I doubt it. They are not about practicing journalism.