It’s bursting out all over, news and debate about Hillary Clinton illicitly snuggling up to Clinton Foundation donors when she was secretary of state. What we have is a facts attack, prickly information getting loads of press attention that is absolutely warranted. Why? A story from the not-so-distant past affords meaningful context.
Let’s start with the last chapter. While acquiring 20 percent of America’s uranium mines, Russia became the foremost owner of uranium resources in the world. There was a definite Clinton connection. Canadian uranium interests, which were eagerly aiming to take their business to the skies, donated millions of dollars to the foundation. Under a pact with the White House, the foundation was supposed to reveal those donations. Except in smidgens, it didn’t. Not at first anyway.
As the money or hints of it came pouring in, Bill Clinton hardly sat on the sidelines. He once traveled to Kazakhstan with a Canadian entrepreneur to say nice things about its not-so-nice dictator and help him in ways U.S. policy frowned on. The entrepreneur acquired three valuable mines there and later contributed $31 million to the foundation. Bill Clinton later hit personal pay dirt when he gave a speech in Moscow and received $500,000 from a uranium-hungry bank that had ties with the Kremlin.
Yes, the Kremlin.
Ultimately, Russia wanted to control a finally willing Canadian firm whose widespread, enormously valuable uranium holdings had come to include mines in Utah, Wyoming and Texas. Because of those particular holdings, the U.S. government had to rule yes or no. It ruled yes, with the State Department under Hillary Clinton participating in the decision that would enable Canadian donors to her family’s foundation to make a pile of cash. She says she did not intervene in what the department decided or when diplomats in other ways abetted the process. And maybe she didn’t. She has said she always tells the truth.
In a 2015 New York Times investigative piece that delves into all of this, it was noted that one-fifth of our electricity comes from nuclear plants. Russia’s uranium muscle naturally extends to weaponry, too. Supposedly the deal prevents Russia from exporting uranium from here. It already has. The national security implications for the United States are nothing to shrug about.
The Clinton Foundation, its defenders keep saying, does good for the poor, but — to move on to another issue — wasn’t that possible without taking donations from foreign countries with horrible human rights records and sometimes with devilish interests in State Department decisions? Whether as secretary of state or as a presidential candidate, these donations pose conflicts of interest.
Clinton defenders still say there is really no ethical issue here. Let’s consider one of about a half dozen.
To make sure nothing bad would happen or be suspected, President Barack Obama requested a firewall between the charity and the State Department when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. She unethically took no heed. The Associated Press recently reported that half of all private persons meeting with Clinton in the first half of her tenure as secretary of state were in fact donors to the foundation, and we know as well that top aides spent considerable time coordinating activities between the secretary’s office and the foundation.
If Hillary Clinton is elected president, Bill Clinton wants to do away with foreign and corporate donations and put the foundation in the hands of Chelsea Clinton, the Clinton daughter. Some people see this as an admission of previously self-invited conflicts of interest and say the switch to Chelsea solves nothing. There could still be those seeking profit through giving that would not be kept from the White House.
The real solution is for the voters to elect a Republican Senate and House so there can be checks and balances on Clintonian skullduggery, a sure enough thing even if there were no foundation.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at email@example.com.