MSNBC's Melber Botches Trump Presser Fact Check About Clinton’s Involvement In Russian Uranium Deal

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 17, 2017 2:00 PM
MSNBC's Melber Botches Trump Presser Fact Check About Clinton’s Involvement In Russian Uranium Deal

President Trump’s press conference to announce his new nominee to be labor secretary turned into a massive media push back/ fact check that lasted over an hour. He did take 17 questions though, which is probably more than Hillary Clinton probably ever would take if she were elected president. Of course, a lot of questions were about Russia, to which the president vociferously said he has no ties, no loans, and no business deals. He said that it doesn’t mean he can’t call Russia, but he doesn’t because he has no one to talk to over there. He then took a swipe at Hillary Clinton saying that she gave Putin 20 percent of our uranium.

On The Today Show, MSNBC’s Ari Melber fact checked the presser and found this claim to be false.

Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton gave them [Russia] 20 percent of our uranium.

Ari Melber: Now, that claim we can tell you is false. Clinton did not give away any American uranium. Russia’s energy agency did buy part of a Canadian company that produces uranium and that was during the period while she was secretary of state.

Yeah, there are a lot of details missing with this shoddy fact check job. For starters, the company, Rosatom, which is a state-owned corporation didn’t just buy a part of a Canadian company—Uranium One—it absorbed the whole entity and its mining operations, some of which were in the United States. On top of that, the chairman for Uranium One at the time, Ian Telfer, used his family’s charity organization to send $2.35 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation between 2009-2013, which was when the Russians were assuming more and more control over the company. It’s important since the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom had to be signed off on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was part of the Council on Foreign Investment, which oversees business dealings pertinent to American’s national security interests. To no one’s surprise, she did sign off on it—adding to the claims of unethical quid pro quo dealings at the Clinton Foundation.

Yet, back to the uranium angle of this, which by the way, was reported by The New York Times in April of 2016, so it’s not like this is a wacky right wing conspiracy theory. The sale did give a Russian company significant control of uranium interests in the U.S. The approval of the sale comes after some other interesting financial transactions besides the Telfer’s donations. The publication added that Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to give a speech at a Russian bank pushing Uranium One futures around the time (2010) Rosatom announced their intention to purchase a majority share of the company [emphasis mine]:

The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

[…]

When the Uranium One deal was approved, the geopolitical backdrop was far different from today’s. The Obama administration was seeking to “reset” strained relations with Russia. The deal was strategically important to Mr. Putin, who shortly after the Americans gave their blessing sat down for a staged interview with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko. “Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of U.S. reserves,” Mr. Kiriyenko told Mr. Putin.

[…]

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

So, as you can see, Melber leaves out some details and even gets some of them wrong, namely that the Russian company bought the whole Canadian company, that about one-fifth of our reserves were included in that Canadian company’s base of operations, and that Clinton signed off on the deal which gave the Russians control of those interests. Leave it to MSNBC to get it wrong.

(H/T redsteeze/ Stephen Miller)