Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the Department of Justice to review evidence in its dormant investigation of the role of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the approval of a deal that allowed United States companies to sell uranium to Russia’s state atomic energy company. In 2010, Uranium One was given approval by multiple federal agencies to sell a majority stake to Rosatom, the Russian energy company.
Sessions’s move comes after President Trump routinely alleged that the “real Russia story” involves Uranium One, not collusion between his campaign and the Russian government in 2016. “That’s your Russia story,” Trump said in October. “That’s your real Russia story. Not a story where they talk about collusion—and there was none. It was a hoax. Your real Russia story is uranium.”
The problem, however, is that the Uranium One story was resolved a long time ago. Republicans have alleged that the State Department, then run by Hillary Clinton, allowed the deal to proceed after people connected with Uranium One donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit run at the time by Clinton’s husband. Republicans also allege that it essentially gave Russia control over American uranium. Clinton, however, never approved the sale—it was evaluated by a committee of nine federal agencies before being approved by the president. The vast majority of the donations to the Clinton Foundation, moreover, came from one person connected to Uranium One—who sold his stake in the company three years before the deal in question.
The real reason that Uranium One won’t go away, however, is that another, real Russia scandal is here to stay: Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Resuscitating this pseudo-scandal gives Trump and his allies in Congress and the media a tool with which to obfuscate and equivocate. By focusing on Uranium One, Trump can claim that he is the victim of a political witch hunt, while the real Russia colluder—the currently powerless Hillary Clinton—walks free.