This is an amusing coincidence. On the same day that a scandalous uranium deal facilitated by Bill Clinton on behalf of his friend Frank Giustra comes to light, the NYT Magazine releases this weekend’s cover story on the former President.
And who should play prominently in it? That’s right. Frank Giustra.
(Quick refresher: Giustra travelled to Kazakhstan with Clinton in 2005 and walked away with a monster Uranium deal that made him a very rich man. Later he made a huge donation to the Clinton global foundation. And now that deal is the subject of a probe in Kazkhstan over whether it was done illegally.)
It seems Giustra’s private jet — no doubt paid for with the uranium windfall — is Clinton’s equivalent of Air Force One
They spend much of their lives on aeroplanes, hers provided by the Air Force, his usually by one of his wealthy friends. For the South America trip, Clinton traveled with Frank Giustra aboard his luxurious MD-87, complete with bedroom and shower, gold-plated bathroom fixtures, leather upholstered reclining seats, flat-panel TVs and original paintings on the cabin walls. The blankets are emblazoned “Giustra Air.” travelling with him on this trip was Doug Band, 36, his aide of 14 years who spends more time with Clinton than any other person. Mort Engelberg, a Hollywood producer who made films like “Smokey and the Bandit” and has done volunteer advance work for Clinton for years, was there too.
And it’s funny, the magazine article references the controversial uranium deal, but obviously it went to press prior to today’s revelations:
Clinton has severed his financial ties with Burkle. But he continues to travel with Giustra, despite attention over a visit he and Giustra made a few years ago to Kazakhstan’s authoritarian president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. An article on the front page of The Times focused on whether Clinton’s presence helped Giustra get a lucrative uranium-mining deal, something that both adamantly deny. Just as problematic was Clinton’s endorsement of Nazarbayev’s bid to lead an international organisation that monitors elections, despite Kazakhstan’s history of manipulated votes. Giustra, who committed $100 million to a sustainable-development initiative with Clinton, deeply resents the insinuations about their friendship. “Being called all these things by all these people who never met me — let’s just say this: I will never go into politics,” he told me in a van as we rode to inspect a project in Colombia. “That’s a contact sport. He accepts the world he lives in.”
So for now, the line is that the transaciton was above board and that Clinton didn’t do anything to help the deal get done. Fine. We’ll see if the Kazakh investigators who wiped out about 40% off Uranium One’s (UUU) value today come to the same conclusion.
For those who think this is a trivial thing, remember how much of a big deal was made over the donor’s list to the Clinton foundation when Hillary’s name was first floated for Secretary of State. And since securing the country’s energy future is going to be a huge geopolitical one (not just economic), Clinton’s ties to those with mining and energy rights won’t be an issue that goes away.
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