Sunday, April 19, 2015

Two Scandals in One: Newsweek Uncovers Clinton Foundation's Biggest Donor Likely Violating Iran Sanctions - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Why on earth would a story about Clinton cashing large checks from a shady Ukranian oligarch be framed not about the scandal itself, but whether or not Hillary Clinton's supposed "enemies" would use it to discredit her?

Newsweek writer Rory Ross has done a valuable service bringing to light the activities of the largest single donor to the Clinton Foundation, a man most Americans have never heard of:
Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, 54, has courted the Clintons for at least nine years – in the United States, the Alps and Ukraine.
Earlier this year, he was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation, whose aims include the creation of “economic opportunity and growth”.
Pinchuk has been pursuing his own economic opportunities in Iran, a country the subject of sanctions.
Newsweek has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors.
Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m (1.7m) in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea.
Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m.
However, US sanctions laws are complex and, in certain areas, ill-defined. Interpipe may qualify for penalties due to the mere presence on American soil of North American Interpipe Inc, its United States subsidiary. (snip)
The person in charge of this list of non-US companies is the Secretary of State, who between 2009 to 2013 – the period during which Pinchuk’s company was trading with Iran – was Hillary Clinton.
This looks awfully bad for Hillary Clinton. The State Department has taken no public action against Pinchuk or his company, while Hillary’s foundation (that currently employs her daughter and has employed a number of her political operatives) took in millions from him. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air:
 Even as far back as 2008, prior to Hillary Clinton becoming SecState, Pinchuk was one of the larger donors to the foundation — between $1 million and $5 million, according to the disclosure. While serving in that role for four years, Pinchuk coughed up at least $8.6 million, but that was just a down payment for what was planned to be a much bigger donation for the Clinton Global Initiative, supposedly a separate operation during her tenure at State:
Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.
Mr. Pinchuk and his wife—the daughter of former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma—began donating to Clinton charities in 2006 after being introduced to Mr. Clinton by Doug Schoen, a pollster who has worked for both Clintons.
In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.
So kudos to Newsweek reporter Ross. But wait! How did the editors in New York choose to lead off this story of a Hillary Clinton scandal?
Enemies of Hillary Clinton waiting to discredit her bid for the White House are likely to seize on news that one of the biggest benefactors to the Clinton Foundation has been trading with Iran and may be in breach of US sanctions imposed on the country.
The “enemies” (not opponents, but enemies) are the story, not Hillary. Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard:
Why on earth would a story about Clinton cashing large checks from a shady Ukranian oligarch be framed not about the scandal itself, but whether or not Hillary Clinton's supposed "enemies" would use it to discredit her? If she has, in fact, done something wrong or inappropriate -- she deserves to be discredited and/or judged by voters.
Newsweek’s framing of the story is the second scandal. Only a hopeless partisan would frame a story of wrongdoing with the question of whether her “enemies” will use it against her.

Reporter Ross deserves credit for digging up the story, but it is obvious his bosses only begrudgingly published it (on Saturday morning – the graveyard for news readership). Newsweek’s editors deserve scorn and mockery for their choice.

Thomas Lifson


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