Sunday, April 02, 2017

Put Up Or Shut Up

Think Progress' Aaron Rupar reviewed Sean Spicer's Friday news conference and noted the presidential press secretary

attacked Hillary Clinton, saying that she was the one with the Russia problem.

“It was Hillary Clinton that was the architect of the last administration’s failed reset policy,” he said. “She told Russian state TV it was designed to strengthen Russia. That was their goal, to strengthen Russia.”

He continued: “She used her office to make concession after concession, selling off one fifth of our country’s uranium, paid speeches, paid deals, getting personal calls from Vladimir Putin. I think if you really want to talk about a Russian connection of substance, that’s where you should be looking.”

Spicer did not say what "concession(s)" he was speaking of, nor whether Donald Trump, as either a private citizen or presidential candidate, ever disapproved of it.

The calamity about the uranium deal got its start in the notorious "Clinton Cash" by Peter Schweizer, turned into a movie produced by a Breitbart guy named Stephen K. Bannon (yes, that Steve Bannon). Checking out the claim that Hillary Clinton engineered the uranium deal, Snopes found

Among the ways these accusations stray from the facts is in attributing a power of veto or approval to Secretary Clinton that she simply did not have. Clinton was one of nine cabinet members and department heads that sit on the CFIUS, and the secretary of the treasury is its chairperson. CFIUS members are collectively charged with evaluating the transaction for potential national security issues, then turning their findings over to the president. By law, the committee can’t veto a transaction; only the president can. According to The New York Times, Clinton may not have even directly participated in the Uranium One decision. Then-Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, whose job it was to represent the State Dept. on CFIUS, said Clinton herself “never intervened” in committee matters.

Neither did Spicer specify what "paid speeches, paid deals" he was referring to. Presumably, he was talking in part about the Clinton Foundation, about which Snopes remarked

Of the $145 million allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One investors, the lion’s share — $131.3 million — came from a single donor, Frank Giustra, the company’s founder. But Giustra sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and at least 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state. 

Of the remaining individuals connected with Uranium One who donated to the Clinton Foundation, only one was found to have contributed during the same time frame that the deal was taking place.

Spicer's attempt to distract and divert attention is not only vague and dishonest, but also slick. Lost in his charges/non-charges was his reference to personal calls from Vladimir Putin, an inference to.... what?

There may be something to Spicer's claims, and it is not reassuring that Mrs. Clinton has not chosen to rebut the charges.  Still, the burden of proof is on the claimant to present some sort of evidence which, of course, Mr. Spicer will not.

It is a standard tactic of this Administration to make baseless attacks, or at least ones it finds inconvenient to substantiate.  Either way, they believe voters, whether supporters or critics of the President, are never owed the truth.

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