Donald Trump peddles Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory to detract from Russia investigation

Another series of late night tweets provides an avenue for the President to let off steam

Rachael Revesz
Tuesday 28 March 2017 08:40
Ms Clinton did not have the authority to grant or reject the Russian deal with Uranium One
Ms Clinton did not have the authority to grant or reject the Russian deal with Uranium One

The night after a growing number of officials called for the chairman of the Trump-Russia investigation to recuse himself and the news that the President’s son-in-law will be hauled in for questioning, the President expressed his frustration through social media.

"Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech…,” he wrote on Twitter about 2am, “…money to Bill, the Hillary Russian “reset,” praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!.”

It is little wonder that the President was losing sleep.

Devin Nunes, his former adviser and now chairman of the congressional investigation into alleged ties between Trump aides and Russia, has faced demands to step down, including from his Democratic counterpart Adam Schiff.

Mr Trump’s senior adviser and family member, Jared Kushner, will be questioned at a senate hearing over his meeting with the Russian ambassador and a Russian bank. His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Justice Department’s oversight of the findings as he was revealed to have also met with the ambassador. And his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign following similar meetings and phone calls and allegedly misleading him and Vice President Mike Pence.

But the President's targeting of his old rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton, is based on an inaccurate claim he first made during the campaign trail about former administration deals between 2009 and 2013.

“Hillary Clinton gave them 20 per cent of our uranium — gave Russia for a big payment,” he said at a 2016 rally, echoing his tweets this March.

When Ms Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department and eight other government agencies sanctioned the Russian nuclear agency’s purchase of a controlling stake in Uranium One. The Toronto-based company owns mines, mills and tracts of lands across the US, equal to 20 per cent of US uranium capacity.

The New York Times reported that the Russian deal did not raise so many red flags concerning national security but more about US dependence on foreign suppliers of uranium. While the US gets a fifth of its electricity from nuclear power, it only generates a fifth of its required uranium.

The Russia nuclear agency, which bought the stake, also builds nuclear weapons. But it does not have licences to export uranium outside of the US, and could have been interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan in a quest for Vladimir Putin to obtain control of the global uranium supply.

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Only former President Barack Obama had the power to veto the deal.

At the time, his government wanted to “reset” its relationship with Russia to get it on board with the Iran nuclear deal.

Mr Trump called the nuclear deal a “disaster”, prompting critics to fear his part in destabilising relationships in the Middle East.

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In his late-night tweets, the President also called for people to pay attention to John Podesta’s links to a Russian company.

Conservative website The Daily Caller found that Ms Clinton’s former campaign chair failed to disclose 75,000 shares in a Russian-financed energy company, Joule, the same month he took a role in the Obama administration. Mr Podesta became a member of the board of directors in early 2011, according to a press release. Months afterwards, the US branch of a Russian state-owned enterprise invested $35 million in the company, found McClatchy reporters. Mr Podesta left in January when Mr Obama appointed him as a special counsellor.

Another focus of Mr Trump’s displeasure was Bill Clinton’s making money from Russia for giving speeches.

Mr Clinton gave speeches all over the world, many of which fetched $500,000 a time. This included Russian finance corporate Renaissance Capital in 2010 when his wife was Secretary of State. The White House denied at the time that there was any quid pro quo arrangement.

Mr Trump also criticised Ms Clinton for "praising Russia". Yet he has also come under fire for calling Mr Putin "very smart" for not retaliating to Mr Obama's sanctions and praising the way Russia has dealt with Syria, despite being accused of committing war crimes.

The President's feud with Ms Clinton appears far from over.

During the campaign trail, Mr Trump’s supporters chanted “lock her up” and he encouraged Russian operatives to hack Ms Clinton’s computer server to find the 33,000 emails that she allegedly deleted. He also vowed during a debate to hire a special prosecutor to investigate her alleged misuse of her personal email server when she was at the State Department.

When he became President, he told the New York Times that he “didn’t want to hurt the Clintons” and would not pursue any such investigation.

He has since dismissed and downplayed reports from the CIA and the FBI that Mr Putin allowed a campaign of influence over the 2016 election to give Mr Trump a helping hand. He also denied having any business or interest in Russia, but vowed it was better to be friendly with the leader than not.

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