A controversial tale involving Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, uranium and Russia continues to rear its ugly head years after it came out.
We previously reported on what we know about the Uranium One deal and to this day the details remain murky.
The charge: That Hillary Clinton sold roughly 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to Russia in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation.
A recent social media post that takes the accusation a bit further by lumping in former FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel in the continuing special counsel investigation.
The post has a picture of Hillary Clinton with text saying, "I sold 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia. Then the Russian government gave $145 million to Clinton Foundation." Underneath is a picture of Mueller, with text saying, "I delivered it."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
As secretary of state, Clinton did serve on a government board that ultimately approved a transfer of uranium, but she wasn’t the deciding vote. And the Clinton Foundation did receive $145 million from parties involved in the transaction — but the dates of a large share of the donations and the deal don’t add up to suggest a quid pro quo.
Mueller was the FBI director at the time, and the FBI was investigating corruption by the Russian company involved in the deal before the transfer was approved. But he played no role in delivering anything that we could find.
The story stems back to the 2015 book Clinton Cash, an investigation by Breitbart News editor-at-large Peter Schweizer. A chapter in the book suggest a pay-for-play scheme between the Clintons and Russia, accusing them of transferring uranium in exchange for donation money.
According to our previous story, in 2007, a Clinton Foundation donor, Frank Giustra, sold his company UrAsia, to another — Uranium One — and unloaded his personal stake in it. The merged company kept Uranium One as its name and was based out of Toronto.
Though it was based in Canada, Uranium One has mines, mills and land in Wyoming, Utah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of the U.S. uranium production capacity. It’s actual production, though, is actually a smaller portion of the uranium produced in the U.S., at 11 percent in 2014, according to Oilprice.com.
Under the terms of the deal, UrAsia shareholders kept a 60 percent stake in the new company until June 2010, when Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, completed purchase of a 51 percent stake.
But the deal had to be approved by multiple U.S. agencies first, including the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, or CFIUS — on which the U.S. Secretary of State sits.
The committee approved the proposal, and in 2013, Russia assumed 100 percent ownership of the company and renamed it Uranium One Holding.
The deal, however, was not Clinton’s to approve alone. The CFIUS panel also includes the attorney general and the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The claim makes it seem like Clinton had the power of vetoing or approving the deal, which she did not.
Clinton has said that she was not personally involved and, in a New York Times article, then-Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, who represented the State Department on the panel, said Clinton "never intervened" in CFIUS matters.
It is accurate that nine individuals related to the company donated to the Clinton Foundation but the bulk of the money —$131 million — came from Giustra.
And Giustra said he sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and about 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.
We couldn’t independently verify Giustra’s claim, but if he is telling the truth, the donation amount to the Clinton Foundation from Uranium One investors drops significantly — from $145 million to $4 million.
Of the remaining individuals connected with Uranium One, the only one found to have donated to the Clinton Foundation during the deal’s time frame was Ian Telfer. Telfer was an investor who the New York Times found contributed between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the foundation during and after the review process for the deal.
So while it isn’t wrong to question links between foundation donors and their ties to Uranium One, this specific charge was exaggerated.
A 2017 report by The Hill revealed that Rosatom’s main executive, Vadim Mikerin, orchestrated "a racketeering plot involving kickbacks, bribes and extortion designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States."
This was revealed by an undercover FBI informant who had infiltrated Uranium One in 2009 – a year before the deal was approved by CFIUS.
At the time, Mueller was the director of the FBI, and one would assume he would have been aware of the ongoing investigation.
But in the Hill article, Assistant FBI Director Ronald Hosko was quoted saying he did not recall ever being briefed on the case.
"‘I had no idea this case was being conducted,’ a surprised Hosko said in an interview," the article reported.
Again, it's somewhat unclear what the post means when it says Mueller "delivered it," but there is no evidence Mueller played a role in the Uranium One transaction.
The other implication is that Clinton either did know or should have known about problems with the Russian bid for Uranium One before deciding whether to let it go forward. Same goes for President Barack Obama, who had the power to veto the transfer.
For now at least, we aren’t aware of any evidence that Clinton knew anything about the FBI investigation. If anything, the Hill’s reporting suggests the opposite.
If the assistant FBI director at the time knew nothing of the investigation, then Clinton -- someone in a different department and several rungs higher in the organizational chart -- might not have known about it.
A Facebook post claims that Hillary Clinton transferred uranium to Russia in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. It also says Robert Mueller was involved.
The claim makes it seem like Clinton bears responsibility for the deal when a panel of several departments and agencies were part of its approval.
And while the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Russian deal may appear fishy, there is no proof of any quid pro quo.
As for Mueller, the ties are even more specious.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
Facebook post, Dec. 5, 2018
PolitiFact, "What you need to know about Hillary Clinton, Russia, and uranium," Oct. 24, 2017
Treasury.gov, "Composition of CFIUS," Accessed Dec. 7, 2018
WMUR, " Hillary Clinton Interview," Accessed Dec. 7, 2018
New York Times, "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal," April 23, 2015
New York Times, "After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton," Accessed Dec. 7, 2018
Frank Giustra statement, April 23, 2015
FactCheck.org, "The Facts of Uranium One," Nov. 1, 2017
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.