Trump’s current manual for his attacks on Hillary Clinton, Clinton Cash, describes another supposed pay-to-play scheme involving uranium and Russia. “Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation — $145 million dollars,” Trump said in his June 22nd Clinton attack speech.
Politifact dug in to fact check this complicated statement.
What does seem to be true is that former members of Uranium One, the company that Trump is referring to that was sold to Russian interests, donated a lot of money to the Clinton Foundation. However there isn’t evidence of a quid pro quo agreement, and there is are a lot of problems with Trump’s simplified assertion and implication of peddling influence.
The State Department did have to sign off on the deal, as uranium is a considered a strategic asset, but nine other government agencies that Hillary Clinton had no sway over were required to sign off as well.
Many of the donations that Trump is referring to happened well before Clinton was Secretary of State or the Russian deal was in the works. All but a small amount of these donations happened while Clinton was running for President in early 2008, and thus no one involved could have known that she was to be Secretary of State. The Russian acquisition did not happen until 2010, when all but one of those donors were no longer invested in the company. Why would they “invest” that much money when Clinton was going for President, not Secretary of State?
“20 percent of America’s uranium holdings” may sound like a lot, but the US doesn’t produce much of the world’s uranium, and actually imports much of it. 20% of the US’s uranium holdings is less than one half of one percent of the uranium produced each year. Also, Russia cannot legally export any of the uranium mined in the US. Polifact suggests that Russia was more interested in Uranium One’s holdings in Kazakhstan, which produces exponentially more uranium than the US.
Was the cash coming to Clinton from current and former Uranium One executives fishy? Definitely. Is there any evidence that this was quid pro quo? Not really, as the vast majority of the donations came two years before the Russia deal and months before Hillary Clinton was appointed Secretary of State. The author of Clinton Cash even admits that there is no smoking gun evidence of paying for favors in this case.