‘Uranium Delirium’; Matthews Lashes Out at Calls to Investigate ‘Closed Case’ Uranium Deal

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews reluctantly waded into the Russia uranium deal story on Tuesday’s show, blasting the calls for a special counsel to investigate the “closed case” Obama-era deal and mocked the story as one that “the right-wing wants you to think is the biggest scandal since the Rosenbergs.”

What’s intriguing was Matthews did nothing to directly refute the story with specific evidence or address the new stories published last month by The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann about the Russian attempts to gain access to the inner circle of Hillary Clinton’s State Department. 

 

 

In the first of two teases for the full segment, Matthews seemed to question the veracity of the Department of Justice revelation that they’re “considering whether to recommend a special counsel” on “the uranium deal, the one the right-wing wants you to think is the biggest scandal since the Rosenbergs.” 

The second tease showed an even more annoyed Matthews, fretting: 

I just don’t believe they’re serious about a special counsel to investigate nothing. Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the uranium deal except in a very kind of institutional way and, by the way, it was legally done. Anyway, but what about Trump? We'll see what he's up to. I think he's pushing Sessions. He said he's very frustrated with the fact that the Department of Justice isn't going after Clinton because he wants them to and that’s why it should be doing it because he wants them to. He doesn't understand our Constitution.

Yikes. Care to provide any direct evidence of that, Chris?

The segment in question was entitled “Uranium Delirium” and featured New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt and former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. Matthews set the table with clips from the second presidential debate and a back-and-forth on Tuesday between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Republican Congressman Jim Jordan (Ohio).

Schmidit didn’t seem to render a judgement on the uranium deal except argue that an investigation into that would certainly alleviate the pressure the Trump administration has felt in respect to the Mueller probe.

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Going to McQuade, Matthews wondered what she would do if she were told to “investigate this decision by this inner cabinet tasks force.”  

“They approved the uranium deal. They all agreed to it. They all signed it at the cabinet level. What would be the crime you would be looking at? What would be the body of the crime to investigate? It was all done transparently and correct — and by the correct procedures,” Matthews continued.

McQuade stated that she thinks that “the theory that I have heard is that there's some sort of bribery count that some thought that Hillary Clinton approved this deal in exchange for a large donation of the Clinton fund, but, you know, bribery has a five-year statute of limitations and this all occurred seven years ago.”

She conceded that claims of impropriety “would be difficult even to begin to investigate” since “so much time has passed” and “[t]here's a reason we have a statutes of limitations is because evidence gets stale.”

“[I]f it is a bribery theory, then you'd have to show that, in exchange for anything of value, this donation, she committed some sort of official act. So, that official act would have to be some act to have been taken to approve this deal and I don't know that there's any evidence of that,” McQuade later concluded. 

Matthews wrapped up the segment by voicing this displeasure with the whole topic, muttering how he doesn’t “see anything here” and “I think this is a closed case.”

If Matthews would have had a more serious discussion, he would have at least reported what my colleague Geoffrey Dickens did when he summarized the first story by Solomon and Spann: 

On October 17 The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann reported that “Before the Obama administration had approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.”

Additionally, The Hill reported that the FBI had “obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.”

In a subsequent story on October 22, the pair revealed that, amidst the Uranium One deal, “[a] female Russian spy posing as an American accountant....used a false identity to burrow her way into the employ of a major Democratic donor in hopes of gaining intelligence on Hillary Clinton’s department.”

This latest dismissal of the Uranium One story was sponsored by Hardball advertisers DirecTV for Business, Infiniti, Match.com, and Walgreens.

Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on November 13:

MSNBC’s Hardball
November 14, 2017
7:15 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Plus, the Department of Justice is considering whether to recommend a special counsel — well, at least they say they are, AG saying that to investigate the uranium deal, the one the right-wing wants you to think is the biggest scandal since the Rosenbergs. Is Trump looking to use the Justice Department to punish his political rivals. What do you think? Remember what he said before he went Asia? He was frustrated, that was his word, that he couldn't sic the Department of Justice on Hillary Clinton.

(....)

7:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

MATTHEWS: Up next, the Justice Department says it’s considering whether or not to appoint — well, they say they are. I just don’t believe they’re serious about a special counsel to investigate nothing. Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the uranium deal except in a very kind of institutional way and, by the way, it was legally done. Anyway, but what about Trump? We'll see what he's up to. I think he's pushing Sessions. He said he's very frustrated with the fact that the Department of Justice isn't going after Clinton because he wants them to and that’s why it should be doing it because he wants them to. He doesn't understand our Constitution.

(....)

7:34 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Uranium Delirium]
                                
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. Well, Donald Trump campaigned in part on a promise to pursue a criminal probe against his opponent, Hillary Clinton. And late yesterday came the news that the Justice Department may be looking into whether a special counsel should be set up. It came in response to a question or a request from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. Assistant Attorney General Steven Boyd wrote to lawmakers: “The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters.” Well, that would include, quote, “whether any matters merit the appointment of a special counsel.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who once told reporters or senators, we do not punish political enemies in America, seems somewhat reluctant on that matter today.

(....)

MATTHEWS: Barbara, what would you investigate if you were a prosecutor in the federal Justice Department and you had to — you were told, now, investigate this decision by this inner cabinet tasks force, they approved the uranium deal. They all agreed to it. They all signed it at the cabinet level. What would be the crime you would be looking at? What would be the body of the crime to investigate? It was all done transparently and correct — and by the correct procedures. 

BARBARA MCQUADE: Well, I believe that the theory that I have heard is that there's some sort of bribery count that some thought that Hillary Clinton approved this deal in exchange for a large donation of the Clinton fund, but, you know, bribery has a five-year statute of limitations and this all occurred seven years ago. So, I think it would be difficult even to begin to investigate something when so much time has passed. There's a reason we have a statutes of limitations is because evidence gets stale. But I imagine one could attempt to interview all of the people involved. But it seems to me we are tasking senior federal prosecutors on a fool's errand.

MATTHEWS: Well, don't you have to initially establish the fact that Hillary Clinton put her hand to a document that she had some briefing on the subject, had some involvement in the decision to approve that — that sale? 

MCQUADE: Yes. You know, if it is a bribery theory, then you'd have to show that, in exchange for anything of value, this donation, she committed some sort of official act. So, that official act would have to be some act to have been taken to approve this deal and I don't know that there's any evidence of that. 

MATTHEWS: I don’t see anything here. I'm sorry to be so short, but I think this is a closed case. 

NBDaily Russia Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Russian uranium deal MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press Michael Schmidt Jeff Sessions Chris Matthews Hillary Clinton Jim Jordan
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