A Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter has claimed former President Bill Clinton falsely denied hosting a meeting with Kazakh officials when she tried to write a story that involved his foundation several years ago.
Jo Becker, who works on the newspaper’s investigative desk, said Clinton only confirmed the meeting took place after she informed him there were photographs.
Clinton’s role in a deal that involved Kazakhstan, the Russian government, and a man who donated millions to the president’s charitable foundation were detailed in a story Becker published on Thursday. That article revisited some of her earlier reporting and included information from the upcoming book
“Clinton Cash,” which is generating widespread headlines amid a flurry of reports suggesting it will raise serious questions about Clinton’s family foundation.
The donor in question is Canadian mining executive Frank Giustra, a longtime friend of the former president who has given tens of millions to the Clinton Foundation in the past few years.
Becker initially wrote about the February 2007 meeting between Clinton, Giustra, and executives from the state-owned nuclear company Kazamtomprom in 2008. The gathering took place at Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York.
“When I first contacted both the Clinton foundation — Mr. Clinton’s spokesman — and Mr. Giustra, they denied any such meeting ever took place,” Becker recalled in footage aired by Fox News on Thursday.
However, Becker said Clinton and Giustra both changed their stories after she confronted them with evidence to the contrary.
“And then when we told them, ‘Well we already talked to the head of Kazatomprom, who not only told us all about the meeting, but actually has a picture of him and Bill at the home in Chappaqua, and that he proudly displayed on his office wall.’ They then acknowledged that yes, the meeting had taken place,” Becker continued in the television interview.
The purpose of the meeting, then-Kazatomprom President Moukhtar Dzhakishev told The Times, was to discuss Kazakhstan potentially buying a 10% stake in Westinghouse, a US nuclear company. Becker’s 2008 story also noted one of Giustra’s companies secured a deal to buy uranium deposits from Kazatomprom in 2005. That agreement was made after Clinton accompanied Giustra on a trip to Kazakhstan.During the trip, Giustra and Clinton met withKazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Clinton issued a statement praising the Kazakh leader despite his questionable, anti-democratic record. The Times called the praise a “propaganda coup” for Nazarbayev.
“Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalised, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $US31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $US100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle,” wrote Becker and another reporter, Don Van Natta.
A spokesperson for the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership told Business Insider they are “working on a formal statement” in response to a request for comment on Thursday. Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership is an initiative of the Clinton Foundation that was co-founded by Clinton and Giustra in 2007. A Clinton Foundation spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Fox News host Bret Baier spoke to Giustra before he aired the Becker interview as part of a broader look into the Clinton foundation’s fundraising. Baier said the Canadian executive “considers this an old story” and claimed “he’s not interested in politics.”
On Thursday, The Times published another major report by Becker and Mike McIntire on Clinton, Giustra, and uranium interests. The new report is making waves in the 2016 presidential race because it said that Giustra’s mining company, which is now called Uranium One, was only able to sell its US uranium deposits to a Russian state agency because the State Department, then headed by Clinton’s wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, signed off on the deal.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in next year’s presidential race, is not accused of any wrongdoing and her campaign has insisted that she wasn’t even involved in approving the Uranium One deal. Her campaign spokesman further noted that other US government agencies also signed off on the sale.
Clinton allies are also dismissing The Times report as part of a series of critical stories linked to “Clinton Cash.” Her campaign team and related groups have noted that author Peter Schweizer has connections to conservative organisations and accused his latest work of being a partisan smear against Clinton. Schweizer hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider on these criticism.
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