Below is the incredible New York Times editorial* published on Thursday that lays out the case for how the Hillary Clinton campaign was colluding with the Russian government, and then tried to cover it up by blaming her election loss on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Hillary Clinton-Russia Nexus
The acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, told Congress on Thursday that President Trump's firing of James Comey has not derailed the agency's investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Which is good news. Despite Mrs. Clinton's assertion that the idea of collusion is "a total hoax," and despite many unknowns, the links continue to pile up. Here is a partial accounting of the connections we do know something about.
THE CLINTON FAMILY BUSINESSThere may be no Clinton Foundation office in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but it is not for lack of trying. Bill Clinton received half a million dollars in 2010 for a speech he gave in Moscow, paid by a Russian firm, Renaissance Capital, that has ties to Russian intelligence. The Clinton Foundation took money from Russian officials and oligarchs, including Victor Kekselberg, a Putin confidant. The Foundation also received millions of dollars from Uranium One, which was sold to the Russian government in 2010, giving Russia control of 20% of the uranium deposits in the U.S. — the sale required approval from Hillary Clinton's State Department. What's more, at least some of these donations weren't disclosed. "Ian Telfer, the head of the Russian government's uranium company, Uranium One, made four foreign donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all such donors," the Times has reported.
JOHN PODESTA In March — that is, long after the election was over — it was revealed that Mrs. Clinton's campaign chairman had failed to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company — Joule Unlimited — for which he served as director from 2010 to 2014, when he joined the Obama White House in 2014. Podesta apparently had a large chunk of the shares transferred to "Leonidio Holdings, a brand-new entity he incorporated only on Dec. 20, 2013, about 10 days before he entered the White House," according to a news account.
TONY PODESTA Mr. Podesta's brother, who has close personal and business relations with Mrs. Clinton, was "key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms. His firm received more than $24 million in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics," a March news story reported. The bank was "seeking to end one of the Obama administration's economic sanctions against that country." The report goes on to note that "Podesta's efforts were a key part of under-the-radar lobbying during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign led mainly by veteran Democratic strategists to remove sanctions against Sberbank and VTB Capital, Russia's second largest bank." Mr. Obama imposed the sanctions following the Russian seizure of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014.
JOHN BREAUX Forbes magazine reports that Mr. Breaux, a former Senator from Louisiana who cut radio ads for Mrs. Clinton's 2008 campaign, represents Gazprombank GPB, a subsidiary of Russia's third largest bank, on "banking laws and regulations, including applicable sanctions."
THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN In March, Mr. Putin's spokesman said that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak met with members of Mrs. Clinton's campaign several times while she was running for president in 2016. Further, the campaign never disclosed the number or nature of these secret meetings.
Mrs. Clinton and her associates can cry themselves hoarse that there is neither smoke nor fire here, and that Putin was behind her election loss. But all in all, the known facts suggest an unusually extensive network of relationships with a major foreign power. Anyone who cares about the credibility of the American electoral process should want a thorough investigation.
* OK, this is not really what The New York Times wrote in its editorial (the actual editorial can be found here). But it does closely track what the Times' editorial accuses Trump of doing, and the Times' accusations about a Trump "nexus" with Russia are just about as flimsy.
Top Democrats, as indicated above, also have a long history of business and political ties with Russia, for the simple reason that there is money to be made by people who can peddle their political connections. And sometimes these Democrats don't disclose their Russia ties. If this is all the Times needs to accuse Trump and his associates of having "an unusually extensive network of relationships with a major foreign power," then Clinton is equally guilty. (The one difference is that Hillary actually has a record of being soft on Russia.)
Of course, Clinton isn't president, so who cares? Still, even if she had won the presidency, would The New York Times, or anyone else for that matter, have cared one whit about her "extensive" ties with Russia? Somehow, that seems unlikely.