The Clintons hold up some steaks at the 37th Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa, last fall. (Photo: Jim Young/Reuters)
The Clinton Foundation’s finances are being scrutinized by the media ahead of a much-anticipated book that Republicans are hoping will hamper Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
Four separate stories published Wednesday and Thursday — by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Politico and Yahoo News — take a look at donations detailed in Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” which is due out May 5.
The New York Times reports that between 2009 to 2013, “a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation” as Uranium One, a Canadian mining company, maneuvered to sell its assets — including U.S. uranium mines — to a Russian energy company in a deal that required approval by the U.S. State Department, which was then helmed by Hillary Clinton:
Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.
Josh Schwerin, spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, told the Wall Street Journal that the Uranium One sale “went through the usual process” and that Jose Fernandez, a former assistant secretary of state who was responsible for managing the State Department’s sign-off through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, “has stated that the secretary did not intervene with him.”
Schweizer’s book, Schwerin added, “is twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories.”
Brian Fallon, another spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, told the Times that “[no one] has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.”
The Uranium One deal, Fallon said, was signed off on by multiple U.S. agencies, the State Department being just one of them.
“To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless,” he added.
Bill and Hillary embrace at the Clinton Global Initiative 2014 in New York last fall. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. The Journal reported in February that “at least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during her tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation.”
Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton’s paid speeches are being scrutinized, too.
According to the Washington Post, Bill Clinton was paid more than $100 million for speeches between 2001 and 2013, including “at least $26 million in speaking fees by companies and organizations that are also major donors to the foundation he created after leaving the White House.”
Craig Minassian, a spokesman for the foundation, dismissed any impropriety.
“It’s not surprising that organizations who believe strongly in the Clinton Foundation’s mission and are impressed by its results are genuinely interested in President Clinton’s perspective,” Minassian told the newspaper. “The president often says the foundation is his life today, and he welcomes any opportunity to educate people about it and encourage more people to work together to solve some of the most critical global challenges we all face.”
On Wednesday, the Clinton campaign rejected an allegation in the book that she watered down Iran sanctions to please a corporation that paid Bill Clinton an enormous speaking fee.
In a chapter obtained by Yahoo News, Schweizer suggested that Sweden-based global telecommunications giant Ericsson effectively influenced Hillary to spare it from punishing economic sanctions for doing business with Iran by paying $750,000 to Bill Clinton to speak at a Nov. 12, 2011, telecom conference in Hong Kong.
Fallon told Yahoo News the claims that Bill Clinton’s speaking fees swayed Hillary Clinton’s State Department decisions “ridiculous” and “unproven.”
In a different chapter, obtained by Politico, Schweizer implies that the Clintons’ relationship with Canadian mogul Frank Giustra — a “friend of Bill” and major donor to the Clinton Foundation with business interests in Latin America and the Caribbean — ultimately led Hillary’s support of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2011.
But according to a Clinton aide, Giustra’s donations to the Clinton Foundation predated 2007 — and Hillary was on the record as opposing the trade agreement during her first run for president in 2008.
“In a book full of partisan conspiracy theories, this is among the most laughable,” Fallon told Politico. “The author conveniently forgets to explain why, if Hillary Clinton was seeking to assist people who donated to the Clinton Foundation in 2006 and 2007, she opposed the free trade deal so vocally throughout 2008.”
Chelsea Clinton, who serves as vice chair of the foundation, today defended her family’s charity against the book’s allegations.
“What the Clinton Foundation has said is that we will be even more transparent, even though Transparency International and others have said we’re among the most transparent of foundations,” the former first daughter said Thursday. “I very much believe that that is the right policy. That we’ll be even more transparent. That to eliminate any questions while we’re in this time, we won’t take new government funding, but that the work will continue as it is.”