There’s a new Russia scandal in town. Except it’s an old scandal. That never was a scandal. Which, of course, makes it even worse.
SEBASTIAN GORKA: If this had happened in the 1950s, there would be people up on treason charges right now. The Rosenbergs, OK? This is equvalent to what the Rosenbergs did and those people got the chair. Think about it. Giving away nuclear capability to our enemies, that's what we're talking about.
That’s former deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka calling for the death penalty. “Lock her up!” is no longer good enough. Now it’s “Fry her.” To help warm up the chair, professional leaper-from-cars and bush-skulker Devin Nunes has instituted an investigation of the Uranium deal … that was …
- approved by over two dozen US and Canadian officials.
- over which Hillary Clinton had neither approval nor veto power.
- about which Hillary Clinton never never voted.
But the deal did result in roughly 20 percent of US Uranium reserves being sold to Russia’s state-owned uranium company. Which means … nothing. Because they don’t have an export permit and not a single ounce of uranium has been, or can be, removed from the United States.
Meanwhile, Devin Nunes is leveling additional charges at Hillary—and doing his best to out hyperbole Gorka.
“The people who’ve made the Russians successful, are the Democrats … the biggest intelligence failure since 9/11.”
All of which pleases Donald Trump very, very much.
The all-out attempt to flip the narrative is getting a push on all fronts. It’s got the full suite of Trump surrogates making the rounds of television on heavy rotation. It’s wall to wall on Fox. And it’s getting a starring roll from the Republican Congress who, despite being apparently unfazed by Trump, Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, Kushner, or Trump Jr. making direct deals with Russia and has decided to devote three committees to investigating a deal that’s eight years old.
A quick review on the Uranium One deal now getting the full court press from Republicans at every level: Investors in Uranium One, a South African–Canadian company, made contributions of over $140 million to the Clinton Foundation. Almost all of that money came from Canadian businessman Frank Giustra. However, those investors, including Giustra, sold out to UrAsia Energy in 2007. The resulting company continued to operate under the name Uranium One. In 2010, the new company under the old name sold a controlling interest to Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. So the Clinton Foundation received money from people who sold a company to someone who sold that company to Russia. Only one of the original investors, Ian Telfer, both remained with the new company and made contributions to the Clinton Foundation. He contributed around $1.3 million. And, even though the Uranium One deal includes about 20 percent of measured reserves, it doesn’t have the right to sell any uranium outside the United States.
And none of it matters. Because Hillary Clinton never had any opportunity to do anything about the deal. At all. Yes, the secretary of state is a member of CFIUS, the group that reviews such deals. But that group is strictly advisory. The vote of that board was unanimously in favor of the sale. If Hillary—who actually didn’t even become personally involved in the deal—had declared her opposition, she would have been overruled 8 to 1. She didn’t have veto power over the deal. She didn’t have approval power over the deal. Attempting to bribe Hillary Clinton to support the sale of Uranium One would be required that everyone involved in the deal was a blithering idiot.
There was an investigation into actual wrongdoing connected to the Uranium One deal. However, this investigation didn’t conclude until some four years after CFIUS signed off on the deal. That result was eventually made public as well. So Republican claims that they want to know if the FBI conducted an investigation are also lies, because they already know there was an investigation.
But that doesn’t matter. Because Republicans aren’t concerned about discovering “the truth” behind what, in the end, is a staggeringly ordinary deal that barely raised a ripple at the time. This “scandal” didn’t exist until it was created by Breitbart in the search to find something, anything, they could use as ammo in the election. The Uranium One deal is the product of opposition research … only unlike the Steele dossier, there was never any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Clinton or anyone else in the Obama administration.
The only thing really interesting is the level of effort that Trump, Fox, Nunes, and Trump’s array of surrogates are going to at this point to try and generate a story where none exists. Which makes it seem as if they might have a reason to want a distraction.