Clin­ton un­der scru­tiny for for­eign dona­tions

Link to Rus­sia ura­nium deal raises ques­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER AND DAVE BOYER

The White House strug­gled Thurs­day to fend off a bar­rage of ques­tions about for­eign dona­tions to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion dur­ing the ten­ure of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, in­clud­ing re­ports of dona­tions linked to a deal that helped Rus­sia nearly cor­ner the world ura­nium mar­ket with State Depart­ment ap­proval.

Mrs. Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign has wres­tled with the same ques­tions, but nei­ther the cam­paign nor the White House pro­vided enough an­swers to quell the up­roar.

Scru­tiny of for­eign money swirling around Mrs. Clin­ton, in­clud­ing sky­rock­et­ing speak­ing fees paid to her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, and megado­na­tions to their char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion af­ter she be­came Amer­ica’s top diplo­mat, will only in­ten­sify and dog her on the cam­paign trail.

White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest in­sisted that Pres­i­dent Obama is not trou­bled by re­ports that the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion ac­cepted $2.35 mil­lion from a busi­ness­man in­volved in Rus­sia’s ura­nium deals that re­quired ap­proval from the U.S. State Depart­ment as well as other coun­tries.

“At this point, there has not been any ev­i­dence pre­sented that would prompt the pres­i­dent or any­body at the White House to be un­set­tled by Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s con­duct as sec­re­tary of state,” said Mr. Earnest. “In fact, ev­ery­one here at the White House, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent, con­tin­ues to be very proud of her ser­vice to this coun­try.”

The con­tri­bu­tions were not pub­licly dis­closed by the Clin­tons, de­spite a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween Mrs. Clin­ton and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion that re­quired dona­tions to the foun­da­tion to be dis­closed to avoid any ap­pear­ance of a con­flict of in­ter­est, The New York Times re­ported.

The deal gave Rus­sia’s atomic en­ergy agency, Rosatom, con­trol of ura­nium mines stretch­ing from Asia to the West­ern U.S., in­clud­ing half of Amer­ica’s ura­nium sup­ply.

Shortly af­ter the Rus­sians an­nounced plans to buy min­ing gi­ant Ura­nium One, a Rus­sian in­vest­ment bank with ties to the Krem­lin and the deal paid Mr. Clin­ton $500,000 for a speech in Moscow, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

That was about five times Mr. Clin­ton’s typ­i­cal speak­ing fee.

Mr. Earnest said he wasn’t familiar with de­tails of the Rus­sian case.

Asked whether the ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­cerned that ex­am­ples con­tinue to emerge about ques­tion­able dona­tions from for­eign gov­ern­ments or for­eign en­ti­ties to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, he said no.

“The pres­i­dent and the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tinue to have a strong con­fi­dence in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing of Sec­re­tary Clin­ton,” he said.

Still, Mr. Earnest de­clined to an­swer a re­porter’s ques­tion on whether it is now “clear” that Mrs. Clin­ton didn’t abide by an agree­ment she signed with the ad­min­is­tra­tion be­fore be­com­ing sec­re­tary of state in 2009 to dis­close dona­tions to the foun­da­tion and the speak­ing fees paid to her hus­band.

“I’m not sure that that’s clear, but you should go ask Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s team about that,” Mr. Earnest said.

The Clin­ton cam­paign did not re­spond to ques­tions about vi­o­lat­ing the mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing.

Mrs. Clin­ton, who is the odd­son fa­vorite to win the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, also came un­der fire form her po­ten­tial Repub­li­can ri­vals.

“It’s the Clin­ton way: rak­ing in mil­lions from for­eign gov­ern­ments be­hind closed doors while mak­ing prom­ises about trans­parency that they never in­tended to keep. Now they’re scram­bling to re­file their taxes and ac­count for her de­ci­sions as Sec­re­tary of State,” Carly Fio­r­ina, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hewlett-Packard who plans to an­nounce her Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial run May 4, wrote on her Face­book page.

She con­tin­ued: “The Amer­i­can peo­ple will have a choice. Are we go­ing to de­mand trust and trans­parency from our lead­ers? Have we had enough of a rul­ing po­lit­i­cal class that doles out fa­vors to the wealthy and well con­nected few?”

The Clin­ton cam­paign has tried to tamp down the con­tro­versy since it emerged this week in pre­views of the book “Clin­ton Cash: The Un­told Story of How and Why For­eign Gov­ern­ments and Busi­nesses Helped Make Bill and Hil­lary Rich.”

The book, by con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal ad­viser Peter Sch­weizer, ar­gues that the Clin­tons got rich from speak­ing fees and dona­tions in re­turn for fa­vors from Mrs. Clin­ton to var­i­ous for­eign in­ter­ests while run­ning the State Depart­ment.

Other deal­ings in­clude a free trade agree­ment in Colom­bia that ben­e­fited a ma­jor foun­da­tion donor’s in­vest­ments in the South Amer­i­can na­tion, devel­op­ment projects in Haiti af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in 2010, and more than $1 mil­lion in pay­ments to Mr. Clin­ton by a Canadian bank and ma­jor share­holder in the Keystone XL oil pipe­line that oc­curred while the project was un­der State Depart­ment re­view, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

The Clin­ton cam­paign tried to dis­miss the ac­cu­sa­tions as a rightwing “smear project,” but that be­comes in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult as main­stream news out­lets pick up the story.

Clin­ton cam­paign spokesman Brian Fal­lon sent a memo Thurs­day to sup­port­ers and donors in an at­tempt to beat back the ac­cu­sa­tions.

“The bot­tom line re­mains that the book fails to pro­duce a shred of ev­i­dence sup­port­ing the the­ory that Hil­lary Clin­ton ever took ac­tion as Sec­re­tary of State for the pur­poses of sup­port­ing the in­ter­ests of donors to the Clin­ton foun­da­tion,” he wrote.

At a cam­paign stop in New Hamp­shire this week, Mrs. Clin­ton brushed aside re­porters’ ques­tions about con­nec­tions be­tween con­tri­bu­tions from for­eign en­ti­ties and her ac­tions as sec­re­tary of state, call­ing them merely “dis­trac­tions and at­tacks.”

“I know that that comes, un­for­tu­nately, with the ter­ri­tory,” she told The As­so­ci­ated Press.


Scru­tiny of for­eign money, in­clud­ing speak­ing fees paid to for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, and megado­na­tions to the cou­ple’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion are swirling around Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

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