Metro

Here’s what we know about the Uranium One controversy: It’s complicated

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered career Justice Department prosecutors to evaluate a variety of accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back.
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press/file 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered career Justice Department prosecutors to evaluate a variety of accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered career Justice Department prosecutors to evaluate a variety of accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate her. The Uranium One controversy appears to be one of the issues that the prosecutors will scrutinize.

Here’s a brief refresher course on the complex, murky case:

What are the accepted facts in the Uranium One controversy?

In 2010, Russia’s atomic energy agency acquired a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Canadian company that at the time controlled 20 percent of US uranium extraction capacity. The purchase was approved by a government committee that included representatives of nine agencies, including the State Department, which was led at the time by Hillary Clinton. The company’s actual share of US uranium production has been 2 percent; the real benefit for Russia was securing far greater supplies of uranium from Kazakhstan.

Why has the deal raised questions?

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Donors related to Uranium One and another company it acquired contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton received $500,000 from a Russian bank for a speech. That raised questions about whether donors contributed in exchange for a favorable nod on the deal from Hillary Clinton.

Is there any proof of corruption?

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There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton participated in the government approval of the Uranium One deal. Peter Schweitzer, conservative author of the book “Clinton Cash,” which originally raised the questions about the deal, has acknowledged not having direct evidence of her involvement.

What are some of the weaker points in the case against Clinton?

Here are a couple: Politifact has pointed out it was hardly Clinton’s deal, noting the nine agencies and the state and nuclear regulators that had to sign off on it. The State Department representative on the committee also told Time magazine that Clinton “never intervened with me.”

Politifact also reported that the vast majority of donations to the foundation that were criticized as suspicious were made by one man, who said he sold his stake in the company before Clinton became secretary of state and before the Russian deal.

Why is the Uranium One controversy back in the news?

The Hill, a Washington publication that covers politics, reported in mid-October that before the approval of the deal, the FBI had gathered evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in illegal schemes “designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

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Trump, who is embroiled in controversy himself over his campaign’s possible ties to the Russian government, has criticized his Justice Department for not looking into conservative concerns. And he has tweeted several times about the Uranium One deal, calling it a big story and appearing to suggest that it should be investigated.