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Clinton Cash Debunked
I really wanted to focus on the life changing work of the Clinton Foundation in this series, but I decided to add this section because the baseless allegations made in the book Clinton Cash had to be directly addressed. In the book, Schweizer, a former adviser to Sarah Palin, alleged an improper pay for play scheme concerning uranium in Kazakhstan, the Clinton Foundation, and Mr. Giustra, the billionaire philanthropist who funded the Clinton Giustra Partnership. Schweizer also tried to minimize the work of the Clinton Access Initiative and the work they’ve done lowering the cost of HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa.
First, Schweizer, a former adviser to Sarah Palin, should have been ignored like other crackpot extreme right wing authors like Ed Klein who wrote the ridiculous Blood Feud, which alleged the supposed hatred between the Obamas and the Clintons, but the media chose to publicize Schweizer’s allegations causing this “controversy.” The New York Times even played stenographer to Schweizer and wrote anarticle based on early access to Schweizer’s book darkly insinuating ties between Secretary Clinton and this same uranium deal in Kazakhstan. I’ll cover that too, but I have to point out that the Times is no stranger to inaccurate reporting related to the Clintons. They were the first to suggest nefarious dealings in Whitewater when after $50 million dollars of wasted taxpayer money by Congressional Republican witch hunts found no wrong doing there.
Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia and a part of the former Soviet Union, holds about 1/5 of the world’s uranium reserves. In 2005, Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate but also the founder of the movie studio Lionsgate Entertainment (he sold his stake back in 2003), with his company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a lucrative mining contract with Kazakhstan for uranium mining rights. Kazakhstan is also a dictatorship with a poor human rights record that everyone in the US government acknowledges while Kazatomprom is the country’s state-run uranium mining agency.
As Schweizer would tell it, President Clinton, while they were in the country together, used his influence to help Giustra secure this mining deal with his contacts with the Kazakh President Narsultan Nazarbayev. Giustra then, supposedly as a quid pro quo, donated $31.5 million dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Schweizer used the New York Times article for his “research” that critics had already called reaching.
Back in 2009, Forbes, not exactly a liberal publication, looked into the allegation and wrote the article, “Clinton Commits No Foul in Kazakhstan Uranium Mining Deal.” Forbes, looking into the plane manifest, found that Clinton and Guistra did not travel on the same jet as the Times alleged. The former President had arrived four days later on billionaire Ron Burkle’s plane in order to announce a deal for Kazakhstan’s access to lower HIV/AIDS medication prices. Only Clinton’s advance man Amed Khan was in the plane with Giustra. Also, Forbes found the mining deal was well on its way to finalizing the deal before Clinton’s visit to Kazakhstan. Giustra, he is a mining magnate after all, found increasing demand for uranium by India and China for use in their nuclear plants and decided to profit from the deal like the businessman he is.
“Through an intermediary, Giustra learned that interests in three properties—but not 100% interests—were being put on the market by private investors. Giustra began negotiating to acquire portions of these three separate uranium properties in April 2005. Other stakes were held by Kazatomprom, the state-owned uranium company.
After several interviews with Giustra in Vancouver and a number with his and Clinton’s aides, the truth appears to be that Giustra, the eminently successful deal maker, and his team from Vancouver began negotiating and doing due diligence in Kazakhstan long before Clinton’s arrival.”
The country of Kazakhstan didn’t even have a role to play in the deal. The deal was between two private companies for the mining rights and didn’t require any approvals from the Kazakh government.
“The Times quotes Kazatomprom President Moukhtar Dzhakishev as saying that Giustra’s friendship with Clinton, as evidenced by the Sept. 6 dinner, ‘of course made an impression’ with President Nazarbayev. But a subsequent memorandum written by Dzhakishev in response to the Times story says, ‘The meeting between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Nazarbayev could not have had any influence on the deal, because UrAsia purchased a share in a uranium deposit from a private company, and a deal between two private enterprises did not require approvals, neither from Kazatomprom, nor from the government.’”
And the $31.5 million supposed quid pro quo donation?
“The Times makes much of Giustra’s post-trip pledge to the Clinton Foundation of $31 million but failed to mention that Giustra had already pledged in July 2005 an initial $5 million months prior to the trip. As Khan tells it, at the time of the trip ‘all the president knew was that Frank was in the mining business and wanted to become a world-class philanthropist.’”
Indeed, Giustra sold his stake in UrAsia to a South African company, Uranium One, netting him just $45 million dollars. Mr. Giustra donated $100 million dollars in addition to the original $31 million to the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership bears his name because of his generosity. He’d be a really bad dealmaker if that was the quid pro quo between the Clinton Foundation and this mining deal.
Schweizer doesn’t stop there with the uranium story. In the years since Giustra sold his stake, Uranium One grew in size. ARMZ, an arm of the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom, slowly bought control of Uranium One from 2009-2013. Because of the national security implications of Russian control of a portion of uranium capacity, the US government, through the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), had to approve the deal, which they eventually did.
As Schweizer alleged in his book, Secretary Clinton supposedly used her influence to approve the deal as a “quid pro quo” for Clinton Foundation donations by Uranium One executives and investors.
First, as Time puts it:
“The suggestion of outside influence over U.S. decision making is based on little evidence — the allegations are presented as questions rather than proof. The deal’s approval was the result of an extensive interagency process that required the assent of at least nine different officials and agencies. A former State Department official who participated in the deal’s approval told TIME that Clinton did not weigh in on the uranium sale one way or the other, and her campaign calls the allegations in the book “absurd conspiracy theories.”
Secretary Clinton and the State Department was just one of nine agencies who had to approve the deal with the lead agency being the Dept. of Treasury. Secretary Clinton did not have “veto power” over the deal as Schweizer alleged. The deal also had to be approved by Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the Utah Department of Radiation, and the Canadian government. She couldn’t have influenced the deal even if she tried, which she didn’t, and the implications of Russian access to American uranium wasn’t lost on anybody. Also, the final complete buyout of Uranium One by the Russian company ARMZ occurred in 2013 after Secretary Clinton had left the State Department.
The reason the US agreed to the Russian buyout of a portion of uranium holdings in the US was because of an attempt to improve relations and increase trade with Russia as these were the days of the “Russian Reset.” If you are prone to accuse the Obama Administration of being too dovish, this initiative to cool relations started with the Bush Administration:
“The deal itself was the outgrowth of a diplomatic initiative launched by the Administration of George W. Bush to expand trade opportunities between Russia and the U.S., including in the area of nuclear power.”
At the time, back in 2009-2010, Dmitry Medvedev was the Russian President, and there was an attempt to warm relations. A facet of that came with Russian acquiescence over Libya and the overthrow of Gaddafi. Relations subsequently cooled to what we have now (in 2015) when Vladimir Putin once more became President after him.
The donations to the Clinton Foundation from Mr. Telfer, the former Uranium One chairman, and others came because of the encouragement of Mr. Giustra. Their donations were relatively small ranging from $1-5 million, to Mr. Telfer’s 2.35 million, to the hundred thousands, par for the course for donations from rich executives. None were as large as Mr. Giustra who has the ambition to become Canada’s Carnegie.
Not wanting to give any credit for any good deeds done by the Clinton Foundation, Schweizer tried to take a hatchet to the Clinton Health Access Initiative and their work on HIV/AIDS. Schweizer had to resort to taking quotes out of context to do so.
Quoting Princeton Lyman, a State Department personnel who worked under Secretary Clinton relating to HIV/AIDS in Africa:
Clinton Cash version:
“According to public health experts, the foundation piggybacked on the efforts of other organizations. ‘He may take a little more credit than is due,’ admits Princeton Lyman.”
“He may take a little more credit than is due, because a lot of other people are working on these things, too, but he deserves a lot of credit. He’s made it a big issue and he’s done it. And then he has the Clinton Global Initiative in New York every year. His personality is very important — so much, it seems, is wrapped up in the prestige of his own person. But that’s the advantage of being who he is. Every ex-president decides how he’s going to use his prestige. Clinton uses his for good causes.”
Lyman himself talked to Media Matters and said Schweizer took his quote out of context. Contrary to the claim that generic drugs lowered the price of medication anyways, Lyman said: “It clearly is a misrepresentation if he left out the second half of it because the Clinton Foundation did a lot to bring down the cost of AIDS drugs.” Remember, back in the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the cost of the drugs were high because the drugs were expensive, especially compared to African incomes, and distribution to these remote places in Africa was tough. CHAI simplified the market distribution of these drugs and created an efficient market thereby lowering prices greatly.
Quoting Jim Yong Kim, cofounder of Partners in Health:
Clinton Cash version:
“They’ve gone around in a very deliberate process of finding what they call ‘care partners,’’ says Jim Yong Kim, who cofounded Partners in Health, which works with the Clinton Foundation. ‘That’s what Partners in Health is — our specialty has been working in rural areas.”
“The prices were just the beginning of the Clinton Foundation’s impact. They’re doing projects on the ground, scaling up treatment in rural areas, taking over in places where no one else wants to be. They’ve gone around in a very deliberate process of finding what they call ‘care partners,’ who can actually do the job. That’s what Partners in Health is — our specialty has been working in rural areas.”
And quoting Dr. Mark Kline, president of the Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative:
Clinton Cash version:
“‘No one has star power like Clinton,’ noted Dr. Mark Kline, president of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative. ‘But the casual observer might be led to believe that no one else is doing anything, and that may draw resources away from others.’”
“‘No one has star power like Clinton,’ says Dr. Mark Kline, president of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative. ‘But the casual observer might be led to believe that no one else is doing anything, and that may draw resources away from others. They’re doing great stuff, but they’re one of a number of groups that are doing great stuff.’”
Clinton Cash Debunked
If you want a full debunking of Clinton Cash, head over here. Peter Schweizer, a former adviser to Sarah Palin, should have been ignored. Our collective IQ was lowered as a result.