Morning Joe on Uranium One: 'Dumb Conspiracy Theory', 'Clown Show', 'Debunked So Many Times’

On Wednesday’s Morning Joe, the panel breathed a collective sigh of relief over the news that during yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rebuffed the notion that he would launch a special prosecutor’s investigation against the Clintons for their alleged corrupt conduct related to the Russian acquisition of Uranium One. The liberal pundits proceeded to proclaim that the Uranium One story was a “dumb conspiracy theory” that has “been debunked” “many times” and praised Sessions for his “noble” actions.

 

 

The show started off with a brief discussion of the Sessions hearing and a few clips from it. The panelists lauded Sessions for stepping aside earlier this year to allow Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Trump and for doing what he did yesterday in pushing back against Representative Jim Jordan’s [R-OH] suggestion that a special prosecutor would be appropriate to examine the Uranium One case.

Host Joe Scarborough and regular guest Mike Barnicle then went back to their oft-repeated talking points about how Trump is an “autocrat” trying to obliterate “constitutional norms”:

SCARBOROUGH: We had an attorney general that stepped up and [...] look[ed] like he was not going to allow our President, our Republicans in Congress turn this Justice Department into some device for a tyrannical autocrat in the making.

BARNICLE: Yeah. I mean, we will get to the fact that he's prone to amnesia.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

BARNICLE: The attorney general, Sessions.

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Barnicle] He’s got some issues with his memory.

BARNICLE: We’ll get to that. But on this specific facet of yesterday, what happened yesterday, I mean, this is an attempt, a concerted attempt by the President of the United States and allies within the House of Representatives, clearly, yesterday, Jim Jordan, the guy without a coat from Ohio, to turn the Justice Department into just a political property of the President, to inflict politics into the Justice Department, which would affect the morale of the Justice Department. And-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Well, it would shatter constitutional norms. And again, that's why-

BARNICLE: [interjecting] Yeah!

SCARBOROUGH: -we’re starting with this, because if he listened to Donald Trump,-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] It would have been chilling.

SCARBOROUGH: -this would shatter constitutional norms and would be chilling.

The Constitution explicitly puts the Justice Department directly under the control of the executive branch. This means that the President has complete legal authority to push the Justice Department to direct its investigative resources towards particular individuals or groups of people as long as its lawyers follow applicable legal standards regarding due process. If Scarborough and company are skeptical about this, perhaps they will believe liberal legal analyst and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz:

Throughout American history — from Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Kennedy to Obama — presidents have directed (not merely requested) the Justice Department to investigate, prosecute (or not prosecute) specific individuals or categories of individuals.

It is only recently that the tradition of an independent Justice Department and FBI has emerged.

The panel moved on to try to discredit the essence of the Clinton-Uranium One claims by, in part, using Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s recent rant decrying the story as fake news:

BARNICLE: Yeah. And this thing is all over a Canadian company purchased by the Russians. The purchase as it involved the United States was approved by a committee that represented nine different federal agencies of the government. That's some conspiracy-

SCARBOROUGH: [interjecting] Right. Not [trails off]. [talking under Barnicle] Nine federal agencies.

BARNICLE: -that you hold together. You know, nine different agencies.

BRZEZINSKI: President Trump and his allies have been hammering the Clinton State Department for months, calling the Uranium One deal, quote: “Watergate modern age.”

SCARBOROUGH: [exasperated tone] Oh, come on. Come on, take a cold shower.

BRZEZINSKI: It’s also been covered virtually wall-to-wall on Fox News in their own special way. But one of Fox's leading journalists, Shep Smith, took on the President's statements, calling them inaccurate in a number of ways, noting that, quote: “The Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction.”

[cuts to Shepard Smith Fox News clip]

SHEPARD SMITH: Even so, the accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the President approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia. That is Uranium One.   

[end of clip]

BRZEZINSKI: So this was six minutes of beauty. And we’re gonna have much more of Shep's surgical debunking of his own network’s obsession ahead on the show.

SCARBOROUGH: Sam Stein, Shep actually just,-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] It was incredible.

SCARBOROUGH: -Shep undercut this entire conspiracy theory. And it is an -- it is a dumb conspiracy theory-

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Joe] And the, and the clown show.

SCARBOROUGH: -because, again, you had all these agencies that had to sign off on it. This wasn't Hillary Clinton saying: Give me money and I’m gonna take care of this.

Amazingly, no one bothered to mention that, unlike with the constantly touted “evidence” of Trump-Russia “collusion,” it has been confirmed by multiple outlets that millions of dollars were flowing into the Clinton Foundation from Russian-connected sources at the same time that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which Hillary Clinton was a part of, was reviewing the Russians’ bid to buy a majority share in Uranium One. Moreover, as The New York Times reported two years ago, not only did Clinton herself have the power to nix the purchase if she or anyone else in her department raised concerns about the deal, but she also failed to disclose the Clinton Foundation’s receipt of millions of dollars that potentially influenced her decision-making process:

When a company controlled by the Chinese government sought a 51 percent stake in a tiny Nevada gold mining operation in 2009, it set off a secretive review process in Washington, where officials raised concerns primarily about the mine’s proximity to a military installation, but also about the potential for minerals at the site, including uranium, to come under Chinese control. The officials killed the deal.

Such is the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. [...] They are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security.

(...)

Before Mrs. Clinton could assume her post as secretary of state, the White House demanded that she sign a memorandum of understanding placing limits on the activities of her husband’s foundation. To avoid the perception of conflicts of interest, [...] the foundation was required to publicly disclose all contributors.

To judge from those disclosures [...] the only Uranium One official to give to the Clinton Foundation was Mr. Telfer, the chairman, and the amount was relatively small: no more than $250,000, and that was in 2007, before talk of a Rosatom deal began percolating.

But a review of tax records in Canada, where Mr. Telfer has a family charity called the Fernwood Foundation, shows that he donated millions of dollars more, during and after the critical time when the foreign investment committee was reviewing his deal with the Russians. With the Russians offering a special dividend, shareholders like Mr. Telfer stood to profit.

If any news outlet had such a story about Trump or anyone even loosely connected to him or the campaign receiving millions of dollars from Russian-connected business interests during the elections, liberal media heads would collectively explode and we would be subjected to endless months of incendiary propaganda about Trump being a traitor who must be impeached.

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However, when it came to the Clintons, everyone on Morning Joe just dismissed real concerns based on facts as a “dumb conspiracy.” Why? It seems that they simply can’t fathom how Clinton or her associates might have wrangled behind the scenes to make sure that the Uranium One sale went through, even though at that early stage of Obama’s presidency, she was clearly a top contender for being the future standard bearer of the Democratic Party. This undoubtedly gave her immense political clout within the party to influence policy.

No matter, because after adulating Shepard Smith for his “six minutes of beauty,” Daily Beast politics editor Sam Stein jumped into the conversation to concur with the other liberal journos that the Uranium One story was “debunked”:

Yeah, there was [sic] nine separate entities that did have to sign off on it. As I understand, she had a proxy sign off on it. It wasn't even her that signed off on it. Um, it's difficult to see how you can orchestrate a conspiracy with the input of nine other agencies.

(...)

I mean, it's almost silly that we’re even trying to debunk it ‘cause it's been debunked so many times. But to your point, I think there is a propensity to believe these nefarious things about the Clintons that leads us to these conspiracy fever swamps. And for whatever you think about Jeff Sessions, the ability for him to say you know what, we’re not gonna devote resources or time or energy, or at least to hint that, is noble.

Scarborough agreed: “It is noble.”

During the broadcast, no one brought up the salient bit of information that Sam Stein’s publication is owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC), whose board of directors includes Chelsea Clinton, who has herself been involved in running the Clinton Foundation. It’s difficult to take journalists seriously when they fail to mention clear conflicts of interest with stories that they are commenting or reporting on.

See the transcript of the segment below:

6:05 AM EST

JOE SCARBOROUGH: What’s the most important thing that happened yesterday?

MIKE BARNICLE: We just talk- -- we're talking about it now.

SCARBOROUGH: Right, and we all said at the same time: We had an attorney general that stepped up and did not look like he was not gonna allow, look like he was not going to allow our President, our Republicans in Congress turn this Justice Department into some device for a tyrannical autocrat in the making.

BARNICLE: Yeah. I mean, we will get to the fact that he's prone to amnesia.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

BARNICLE: The attorney general, Sessions.

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Barnicle] He’s got some issues with his memory.

BARNICLE: We’ll get to that. But on this specific facet of yesterday, what happened yesterday, I mean, this is an attempt, a concerted attempt by the President of the United States and allies within the House of Representatives, clearly, yesterday, Jim Jordan, the guy without a coat from Ohio, to turn the Justice Department into just a political property of the President, to inflict politics into the Justice Department, which would affect the morale of the Justice Department. And-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Well, it would shatter constitutional norms. And again, that's why-

BARNICLE: [interjecting] Yeah!

SCARBOROUGH: -we’re starting with this, because if he listened to Donald Trump,-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] It would have been chilling.

SCARBOROUGH: -this would shatter constitutional norms and would be chilling.

BARNICLE: Yeah. And this thing is all over a Canadian company purchased by the Russians. The purchase as it involved the United States was approved by a committee that represented nine different federal agencies of the government. That's some conspiracy-

SCARBOROUGH: [interjecting] Right. Not [trails off]. [talking under Barnicle] Nine federal agencies.

BARNICLE: -that you hold together. You know, nine different agencies.

BRZEZINSKI: President Trump and his allies have been hammering the Clinton State Department for months, calling the Uranium One deal, quote: “Watergate modern age.”

SCARBOROUGH: [exasperated tone] Oh, come on. Come on, take a cold shower.

BRZEZINSKI: It’s also been covered virtually wall-to-wall on Fox News in their own special way. But one of Fox's leading journalists, Shep Smith, took on the President's statements, calling them inaccurate in a number of ways, noting that, quote: “The Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction.”

[cuts to Shepard Smith Fox News clip]

SHEPARD SMITH: Even so, the accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the President approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia. That is Uranium One.    

[end of clip]

BRZEZINSKI: So this was six minutes of beauty. And we’re gonna have much more of Shep's surgical debunking of his own network’s obsession ahead on the show.

SCARBOROUGH: Sam Stein, Shep actually just,-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] It was incredible.

SCARBOROUGH: -Shep undercut this entire conspiracy theory. And it is an -- it is a dumb conspiracy theory-

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Joe] And the, and the clown show.

SCARBOROUGH: -because, again, you had all these agencies that had to sign off on it. This wasn't Hillary Clinton saying: Give me money and I’m gonna take care of this.

SAM STEIN [DAILY BEAST, POLITICS EDITOR]: Yeah, there was [sic] nine separate entities that did have to sign off on it. As I understand, she had a proxy sign off on it. It wasn't even her that signed off on it. Um, it's difficult to see how you can orchestrate a conspiracy with the input of nine other agencies.

BRZEZINSKI: There are a lot of things to criticize.

STEIN: Yeah, this is the thing-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Wait, and by the way -- but wait, this was Barack Obama's administration, an administration that in many quarters had a hostility towards Hillary Clinton. In fact, a lot of people very close to the Clintons as we all know had a hostility towards the Clintons and if --

STEIN: [trying to cut back in] I think there’s-

SCARBOROUGH: -so, it wasn't an inside game, anybody that knows that relationship.

STEIN: Corre- -- I mean, it's almost silly that we’re even trying to debunk it ‘cause it's been debunked so many times. But to your point, I think there is a propensity to believe these nefarious things about the Clintons that leads us to these conspiracy fever swamps. And for whatever you think about Jeff Sessions, the ability for him to say you know what, we’re not gonna devote resources or time or energy, or at least to hint that, is noble.

SCARBOROUGH: It is noble.

(...)


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