So Much for the Uranium One Story

If I had to identify my greatest shortcoming as a blogger and an analyst, I’d say it was my refusal to consume right-wing media. By keeping myself walled off from their obsessions, I don’t always sufficiently understand the power of their narratives. When something comes on my radar, like the Fast & Furious controversy or Benghazi!, I will look into it and often quickly determine that it is the rankest horseshit. Sometimes I am surprised to see these stories have such lasting power. I’d put the Uranium One story in this category. I saw that it was being discussed. I investigated it. It was a bunch of foolishness. I moved on.

But Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is under pressure to assign a special counsel to investigate the issue, so it has to be taken seriously. At the Washington Post, Paul Waldman explains that the whole conspiracy theory has collapsed. The key problem has been described in a memo released by Democrats on the House Committees on Oversight, the Judiciary, and Intelligence. It turns out that confidential FBI informant named William Campbell, who was supposed to have proof of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s corruption, doesn’t even claim to have that proof and is also some kind of crook. Here’s what the House committees learned from testimony the Republicans were not eager to release to the public:

  • The Justice Department had planned to use Campbell as an informant in building a separate case against a man named Vadim Mikerin, who was implicated in a bribery scheme involving contracts to transport uranium from Russia to the United States for use in power plants. But as Justice officials told the committees, they determined it was likely that Campbell had engaged in illegal activity he had concealed from them, and Justice decided not to rely on his testimony.

  • Justice Department officials told the committees that they do not plan to use Campbell’s testimony in any future prosecutions.

  • Justice Department officials explained to the committees that Campbell “never provided any evidence or made allegations regarding Secretary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation,” as the memo puts it, adding that he never made “any allegation of corruption, illegality, or impropriety on Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton, the Uranium One deal, or CFIUS.”

  • During his interviews with the committees, Campbell did not offer any evidence of Hillary Clinton or anyone in the Obama administration taking actions as a result of Russian influence.

  • Campbell told the committees that none of the Russians he dealt with ever mentioned anything about the $500,000 Bill Clinton was paid for the speech in Moscow.

  • Campbell said that he heard officials of the Russian energy company Tenex bragging about “influence from Moscow” over the Clintons, but he said he “did not take seriously” those comments.

On the one hand, this justifies my inclination not to waste too much of my time following the Republicans’ latest concoctions. On the other hand, it’s still not entirely clear that Sessions won’t give in and assign a special counsel to look into this fake story.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.