This Uranium Deal Was No Scandal

Uranium ore is mined in many countries. But about 70 percent of world production comes from just three countries: Kazakhstan (almost 40 percent), Canada (over 20 percent) and Australia (nearly 10 percent). Of 68,000 tons mined annually, most goes to nuclear power utilities in some 30 countries.

American utilities buy nearly one-third of global uranium output. But mining in the United States accounts for only 2 percent of that total. That means that operators of American nuclear reactors get about 90 percent of their nuclear fuel from foreign sources.

.. Because American mining yields only 2 percent of world output, and under 10 percent of that comes from the Uranium One license, the allegation that this was a major prize for the Russians turns out to be absurd: Less than one-fifth of 1 percent of global output comes from Uranium One’s holdings in the United States.

.. Under a plan called “Megatons to Megawatts,” the Russian government took uranium for 20,000 Soviet-era nuclear warheads, converted it for nuclear power generation, then sold it to American utilities as fuel for some 100 reactors that produce nearly 20 percent of domestic electricity.

The plan ran for 20 years, and in most of that period provided nearly half of the uranium used in United States reactors. This meant that one out of every 10 American light bulbs were powered by fissile material once contained in nuclear warheads aimed at the United States and its allies.

Shep Smith and Sean Hannity live in different realities. That’s a problem for Fox News.

Smith and Hannity live in different realities, and that is a problem for Fox News. A division between news and opinion is standard — and healthy — at many media outlets, but facts and alternative facts cannot coexist.

.. In March, Fox News suspended legal analyst Andrew Napolitano for making an unsupported claim that British intelligence officials spied on Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign at the request of President Barack Obama.

In that case, as in the current one involving Clinton and Uranium One, it was Smith who set the record straight on his afternoon show.

.. This recent history would seem to bode well for Smith. When Hannity and Napolitano made assertions that were contrary to the reporting of others at Fox News, it was the pundits who had to back down or face a penalty.

.. “Were Fox forced to choose, it would choose Hannity over Shep,”

.. “The network has clearly placed its chips on Trump — witness the reshuffling of the lineup to highlight Trumpier voices, including Tucker Carlson — and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more pro-Trump voice than Hannity.”

.. “Rupert Murdoch highly prizes and highly pays Shep Smith because he brings credibility to the network. … Hannity gets away with a lot but also toes the line when he’s asked to.

Trump wants to upend 230 years of constitutional principle

Okay, it’s official. President Trump wants to upend 230 years of constitutional history and principle to run the U.S. justice system like a banana republic, or perhaps more aptly like what now passes for the rule of law in the country he aspires to emulate, the Russian Federation.

.. For months, Trump has been trying to divert attention from the walls closing in on his former campaign chairman, his former national security adviser and his own son Donald Trump Jr., who are caught up in the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Trump has practiced some of the favorite tactics of his role model Vladimir Putin, labeling any damaging revelation as “fake news” and practicing a refined form of “whataboutism.”

.. This is what authoritarians and tyrants do. They use the instruments of state power, particularly the wrath of the prosecutor, to rain opprobrium down upon citizens with whom they disagree.
.. The first line of defense against authoritarianism is an independent Justice Department committed to the rule of law. In 1940, Attorney General (and future Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson, in a famous speech to U.S. attorneys in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice warned that when “the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that [is where] the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group.”

Hillary Clinton Gave 20 Percent of United States’ Uranium to Russia in Exchange for Clinton Foundation Donations?

Despite transfer of ownership, the uranium remained in the U.S.

A key fact ignored in criticisms of Clinton’s supposed involvement in the deal is that the uranium was not — nor could it be — exported, and remained under the control of U.S.-based subsidiaries of Uranium One, according to a statement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

NRC’s review of the transfer of control request determined that the U.S. subsidiaries will
remain the licensees, will remain qualified to conduct the uranium recovery operations, and will continue to have the equipment, facilities, and procedures necessary to protect public health and safety and to minimize danger to life or property. The review also determined that the licensees will maintain adequate financial surety for eventual decommissioning of the sites. Neither Uranium One nor ARMZ holds an NRC export license, so no uranium produced at either facility may be exported.

.. The timing of most of the donations does not match

Of the $145 million allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One investors, the lion’s share — $131.3 million — came from a single donor, Frank Giustra, the company’s founder. But Giustra sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and at least 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.

Making sense of Russia, uranium and Hillary Clinton

“Multiple current and former government officials told the Hill they did not know whether the FBI or [Justice Department] ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered,”

.. This is a key point. In response to the Hill’s report, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the agencies that signed off on the deal to disclose what, if anything, they knew about the FBI’s investigation. If it were to turn out that Clinton and others were aware of the FBI’s findings — and ignored them — that could be difficult to explain.

.. The FBI investigation was still four years from completion at the time that the uranium deal was approved.

.. Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told the Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau, despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told the Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case, even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

.. If people like Hosko and Rogers did not know about the FBI’s investigation, then Clinton probably didn’t, either.

.. The New York Times reported in 2015 that “as the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation.”It is virtually impossible to view these donations as anything other than an attempt to curry favor with Clinton. Donations alone do not, however, prove that Clinton was actually influenced by money to vote in favor of the Uranium One sale — or to overlook the FBI investigation. Again, there is no evidence that she even knew about the investigation.

.. Similarly, it is virtually impossible to view foreign dignitaries’ habit of lodging at Trump’s Washington hotel as anything other than an attempt to curry favor with the president. Reservations and room service alone do not, however, prove that Trump’s foreign policy is actually influenced by money.