Everything You Need To Know About The Latest Clinton Foundation Scandals, Explained

April 23, 2015

I made a G today

But you made it in a sleazy way

—Tupac Shakur

A lot of new information has come to light since our last explanatory report on scandals surrounding the Clinton Foundation. It’s time for an update. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Clinton Foundation scandals, but were too afraid to ask.

Hey, what’s up?

Quite a bit, actually.

What did I miss?

A lot of new reports about the Clinton Foundation. Remember? It’s the shady corporate/charity conglomerate founded by the leaders of the Clinton dynasty.

Oh, yeah. What’s the news?

Where to start? Newsweek reported over the weekend that one of the Clinton Foundation’s largest donors—Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk—was doing business with Iran between 2009 and 2013, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Wow. Wouldn’t that violate U.S. sanctions?

Probably. Non-U.S. companies can face penalties under the law for trading with Iran, and have in the past.

Who was in charge of determining which non-U.S. companies get penalized?

Thanks for asking. The secretary of state oversees the list of foreign companies deemed in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Wasn’t Hillary Clinton secretary of state during this time?

That’s right.



What else?

Well, there’s a new book coming out called Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer. It reportedly provides examples of Clinton Foundation donors receiving favorable treatment from the State Department.

Peter Schweizer? Isn’t he a raging wingnut?

Media Matters certainly thinks so, and other Clinton operatives are aggressively pushing this narrative. It’s true that Schweizer has worked for Republicans in the past, but his research has targeted politicians of both parties. Liberal outlets have been happy to cite his work when it reflects poorly on Republicans. Speaking of which, Schweizer is currently investigating the finances of GOP candidate Jeb Bush.

Are media outlets looking into the Clinton Foundation’s finances?

They are. On Wednesday, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published reports detailing the State Department’s role in approving the sale of a Canadian-run uranium mining operation in the United States to the Russian government. From the WSJ report:

The $610 million sale of 51% of Uranium One to a unit of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear agency, was approved in 2010 by a U.S. federal committee that assesses the security implications of foreign investments. The State Department, which Mrs. Clinton then ran, is one of its members.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a project of the Clinton Foundation, received $2.35 million from the Fernwood Foundation, a family charity run by Ian Telfer, chairman of Uranium One before its sale, according to Canada Revenue Agency records.

According to the Times, other individuals with ties to the Uranium One sale contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation during that time.

Were the donations disclosed?


Wait. Didn’t Hillary Clinton sign an agreement with the White House to publicly identify the foundation’s donors?

Yes, she did.

What was Bill Clinton doing while all this was going on?

Good question. Renaissance Capital, an investment bank with ties to the Russian government, paid the former president $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow shortly after the Russian nuclear agency announced its intentions to acquire Uranium One, a company whose stock was being promoted by the Russian investment bank. Go figure.

Can we back up for a second? One of those reports mentioned something about the "Clinton Guistra Sustainable Growth Initiative." Who’s Guistra?

Sure, thanks for asking. Frank Guistra is a shady Canadian mining tycoon who has pledged $100 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation, on top of the $31 million he donated 2005, shortly after Bill Clinton accompanied him on a trip to Kazakhstan.

What were they doing in Kazakhstan?

Guistra was trying to win lucrative mining contracts from the government there. The two men attended a lavish banquet hosted by authoritarian president Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose abysmal human rights record had been criticized by Hillary Clinton, among others.

Did Guistra get the contracts?


Sounds pretty sketchy.

It is. And that’s not all. The Clinton Foundation straight up lied to a New York Times reporter about a secret meeting of Kazakh officials at Clinton’s mansion in Chappaqua, New York. Guistra had arranged the meeting, which the Clinton Foundation denied had ever taken place, until they were presented with photographic evidence that proved otherwise.

So, who approved the deal allowing the Russians to buy those U.S. uranium assets?

It’s called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. It is comprised of some of the highest-ranking officials in the executive branch, including the secretary of state. The committee’s job is to review transactions that involved a foreign entity taking control of American business or assets, such as uranium, deemed vital to U.S. national security.

Uranium is a pretty important asset, right?

Right. It’s one of the major components of nuclear weaponry.

Hasn’t Russia been helping Iran to develop its nuclear infrastructure?


Does the committee normally approve these deals?

Not always. In 2009, a Chinese state-owned company tried to buy a majority stake in a Nevada gold mining operation located on a site that also contained uranium. This was one of several reasons cited in the committee’s decision to reject the deal.

Did anyone raise concerns about the Russian uranium deal?

Yes. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican representing Wyoming, site of Uranium One’s largest U.S. operation, wrote a letter to President Obama noting that the deal "would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity." Some members of Congress even drafted legislation to stop the deal.

Why do you think all those people connected to the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation?

Good question. Here’s the answer the New York Times received:

A person with knowledge of the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising operation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about it, said that for many people, the hope is that money will in fact buy influence: "Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?" But whether it actually does is another question.

Did Hillary Clinton’s campaign respond to the story?

Yes. Campaign spokesman dismissed suggestions of a quid pro quo involving the Clinton Foundation, its donors, and then-Secretary of State Clinton as "utterly baseless," noting 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."

But these donors clearly thought their money could buy them favorable treatment. That seems pretty obvious, right?

It does.

So maybe the Clintons just duped all these oligarchs into giving them money, even though it had no bearing on the decisions involving the State Department?

Yeah, maybe.

Why don't these reporters dig through all the emails Hillary sent as secretary of state? Maybe there's something in there?

This is why.



This is a lot to take in. I’m almost afraid to ask: Is there anything else?

Actually, we’re just getting started.

Seriously? Can we take a break?


Fine. What’s next?

Let’s talk about Bill Clinton. ABC News reported on Thursday that his public speaking fees "often double or tripled" after Hillary became secretary of state. Additionally, he received millions of dollars from groups with "interests pending before the State Department."

Wow. I’m not even mad. I’m impressed. The Clintons really love money, don’t they?

They do.

I’m sure none of these groups were trying to curry favor with a sitting secretary of state. They were just trying to make a difference in the world. Maybe this is an example of market forces at work?

Yeah, something like that.

Did any of the groups that paid Bill Clinton to speak also give money to the Clinton Foundation?

Yes. The Washington Post reported that Bill Clinton received at least $26 million from organizations that have also donated generously to the Clinton Foundation. That’s about one quarter of his total speaking revenue since leaving the White House. As we have noted previously, there are many fun ways to buy access to, and curry favor with, the Clintons.

It must be a pain to report all these donations to the IRS, especially the foreign ones, don’t you think?

Glad you asked. As it turns out, the Clinton Foundation didn’t report any foreign government donations for from 2010 to 2012, according to a Reuters review of the foundation’s tax returns. Following the revelations, the Clinton Foundation announced it would refile at least five years worth of tax documents to account for the millions in foreign government donations received during that period.

Seems like a pretty big mistake. And they’re just noticing this now?


That’s weird. Doesn’t Chelsea Clinton work for the foundation? And doesn’t she have a reputation "as a data nerd who will dig into briefs to see if money is being spent efficiently and effectively"?

Yeah, she does. Apparently.

By the way, how does the Clinton Foundation spend all that money? Saving lives?

That’s what they say. But who really knows? Another review of the foundation’s tax documents found that the Clinton Foundation raised more than $500 million between 2009 and 2012, but spent only 15 percent of that money ($75 million) on grants to charitable organizations and causes. More than 25 percent ($135 million) went toward employee compensation, benefits, and travel expenses. The rest was classified as "other expenses," whatever that means.

What does Hillary Clinton think of all this?

When asked about this during a campaign stop in New Hampshire last week, Hillary dismissed the barrage of troubling revelations as mere "distractions and attacks." You know, the sort of benign hysteria that every political candidate has to deal with. She has yet to personally weigh in on the latest barrage of troubling revelations.

Does any of this really matter? Hillary is still going to be our next president, isn’t she?

Yeah, probably.