Wall Street Journal: Quid Pro Clinton

In the latest Wall Street Journal Review and Outlook, the editorial examines how “Democrats who expect Bill and Hillary to change are delusional” and properly concludes voters who expect the Clinton method to change are deluding themselves:”

We’re not the first to make the comparison, but Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adventures in the uranium trade recall nothing as much as Tammany Hall’s concept of “honest graft.” Except maybe their never-ending use of power and status for personal and political gain requires a new special terminology. Dishonest graft?

The New York Times reported Thursday on the foreign cash that flowed into the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013 as subsidiaries of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom acquired control of a Canada-based mining company called Uranium One. The story features the familiar Clinton touches: lucrative Kazakh mining concessions for the tycoon Frank Giustra, with Bill along as a character reference; a half-million-dollar-a-pop speech by the former President in Moscow for a Kremlin-linked bank; $2.35 million in secret donations from one family foundation to another. Our Kim Strassel has more nearby.

All the while, Mrs. Clinton was serving in her capacity as Secretary of State on the U.S. Cabinet committee that screens foreign investment for national-security risks. The group approved the deal, despite critics who warned it would give the Russian government control over the world’s nuclear fuel—the same material Vladimir Putin is now selling to Iran. Oh, and don’t forget this was also amid the famous “reset” of relations with Mr. Putin.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon, distributed talking points claiming this was all merely a coincidence and pointed to a right-wing plot led by author Peter Schweizer. Mr. Fallon added that the allegations lack “a shred of evidence,” which is convenient given that Mrs. Clinton might have destroyed some evidence by wiping her private email server.

The media have exposed a wealth of new facts, but the stories are as notable for how familiar this all seems. Can anyone honestly claim to be surprised?

This is how the Clintons conduct their politics and family business, to the extent these are separate enterprises. The Clinton Foundation is a nominal philanthropy that was really created as a vast fund-raising operation to promote Bill’s post-Presidential career and Hillary’s pre-Presidential one.

Why on Earth would they cash the checks? They had to know these donations would create at least the appearance of corruption or a conflict of interest for the nation’s chief diplomat. The Justice Department recently indicted New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez merely for lobbying to change a Medicare rule that Medicare refused to change. The Clintons cashed the checks because they think they can write their own rules and get away with it.

In this case the Obama White House understood the potential trouble, which is why it worked out an agreement with the Clinton Foundation for restrictions on donations and transparency. The foundation agreed to strictly limit and disclose foreign donations while Mrs. Clinton ran Foggy Bottom. We have since learned that the foundation—Super PAC is a more accurate description—disobeyed these commitments.

In March we learned it has resumed and ramped up accepting foreign contributions from the likes of United Arab Emirates even though Mrs. Clinton was already running a de facto campaign. And now we learn that the foundation didn’t report the $2.35 million—from former Uranium One chairman Ian Telfer’s family charity to support one of Mr. Giustra’s Clinton Foundation projects—on its website as promised. The foundation also says it will now have to restate its tax returns to account for the foreign donations it didn’t disclose.

All of this echoes of the 1990s, as does the Clinton method of defense, which is to deny, stonewall, assail and change the subject. Hillary has already tried to deflect the fund-raising fury by coming out in favor of rewriting the First Amendment to limit campaign contributions. So because the Clintons break the rules, she wants to impose new limits on political speech on the rest of America.

The 1990s Clinton entourage—Ickes,Blumenthal, Carville, Brock,Begala, Kendall—is already back together and kicking in unison. John Podesta, her campaign chief, has rolled out the line that it’s all a “conspiracy,” as if Republicans told Bill and Hill to get in bed with a uranium magnate. And Mr. Fallon is attacking Mr. Schweizer as a tool of the Koch brothers.

This is the trick the Clintons have always used to evade responsibility for their quid pro quo mores. In Arkansas Governor Bill’s friends helped Hillary make an instant killing in cattle futures. The couple then refused to disclose their income tax returns for the years in which they reported this windfall.

In the White House in the 1990s, their re-election campaign took cash from the Riadys of Indonesia and various Chinese political operatives. They rented out the White House for fund-raising “coffees” and sleep-overs, and don’t forget the Marc Rich pardon as they were leaving the White House. This was all right-wing propaganda too.

Mrs. Clinton has been cruising to the Democratic Presidential nomination without serious competition, largely on the belief that Democratic voters have no other choice. Accept Hillary or get a Republican. The operating Clinton assumption is that the “progressives” who are normally outraged by pay-to-play politics, and who pretended that Halliburton ran the Pentagon because Dick Cheney was once CEO, will fall meekly into line as they always have.

Maybe they will, though the 2016 election risks of doing so are rising with each disclosure of Clinton sleaze. Maybe America’s oldest political party will decide that it isn’t helpless to defeat a couple of Arkansas-turned-New York panhandlers who want a free ride to another extended lease on the White House. If nothing else, the past few weeks make clear that voters who expect the Clinton method to change are deluding themselves.

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