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Monday, March 20, 2017

Covering Lies with Lies

I'll be back to regular posting tomorrow; busy day today.

But while I'm working, I'm listening to Sean Spicer's latest presser, and he tried to deflect the conversation about Trump's lies about Obama wiretapping him and about the campaign's collusion with Russia by saying that Hillary Clinton sold off 20% of U.S. uranium to Russia. For one thing, I don't see how it's relevant. For another, it's not true. Trump himself tried it again a month ago:

During his chaotic 77-minute press conference on Thursday, President Donald Trump was on the defensive about his relationship with Russia. One key point he made, attempting to prove that that he wasn’t soft on Moscow, was to paint the previous administration as weak in handling the Kremlin — by claiming again that Hillary Clinton gave Russia “20 percent of our uranium” as secretary of state. 
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But the claim that Clinton gave 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia is incorrect and clearly misleading. Trump is referring to Russia’s nuclear power agency purchasing a majority stake in a Toronto-based energy company between 2009 and 2013. The company had mines and land in a number of US states with huge uranium production capacity — a move the US State Department signed off on. But PolitiFact did a thorough fact-check of the claim last year when Trump first made it on the campaign trail, and found the following faults with it:
The mines, mills, and land the company holds in the US account for 20 percent of the US’s uranium production capacity, not actual produced uranium.
The State Department was one of nine federal agencies and a number of additional independent federal and state regulators that signed off on the deal.
President Obama, not Secretary Clinton, was the only person who could’ve vetoed the deal.
Since Russia doesn’t have the legal right to export uranium out of the US, its main goal was likely to gain access to the company’s uranium assets in Kazakhstan.
Crucially, the main national security concern was not about nuclear weapons proliferation, as Trump suggests, but actually ensuring the US doesn’t have to depend too much on uranium sources from abroad, as the US only makes about 20 percent of the uranium it needs. An advantage in making nuclear weapons wasn’t the main issue because, as PolitiFact notes, “the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium.” 

This actually a fairly juicy presser; the press is asking a lot of the questions we'd like to ask ourselves. They're not getting a lot of answers, but Spicer isn't helping Trump's case.

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