Fallacious Fusion GPS 'fact-checking' at the Washington Post

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's "fact-checker," blithely ignores important facts when he purports to explain Uranium One and the Steele dossier to readers.  As a result, he offers a phony framework comforting to Trump-haters.

His first huge error is to presume that Russians were working to help Trump in the election:

The dossier mirrors a separate conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government intervened in the U.S. election in an effort to bolster Trump and harm Clinton, such as through hacking the Democratic National Committee and distributing materials to WikiLeaks to publish at key moments.

He cites the claim that the intelligence community concluded that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks release of emails but fails to note that no forensic examination of the DNC server took place by the FBI or any investigative agency.  A consulting firm, Crowdstrike, was hired by the DNC to examine the evidence on its own server.  Crowdstrike was selected by the same law firm, Perkins and Coie, that engaged Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to create his phony dossier.

At the same time, Kessler fails to reckon with the fact that the Russians were providing information harmful to Trump for the dossier, which casts even more doubt on his acceptance of the framework of Russia helping Trump.

His analysis of the Uranium One deal is equally skewed.  He claims that there was no real harm because "no uranium produced at U.S. mines may be exported, except for some uranium yellowcake which is extracted and processed in Canada before being returned to the United States for use in nuclear power plants."

But the New York Times reported two years ago:

[T]he [Nuclear Regulatory C]ommission confirmed that Uranium One has, in fact, shipped yellowcake to Canada even though it does not have an export license. Instead, the transport company doing the shipping, RSB Logistic Services, has the license. A commission spokesman said that "to the best of our knowledge" most of the uranium sent to Canada for processing was returned for use in the United States. A Uranium One spokeswoman, Donna Wichers, said 25 percent had gone to Western Europe and Japan. At the moment, with the uranium market in a downturn, nothing is being shipped from the Wyoming mines.

The "no export" assurance given at the time of the Rosatom deal is not the only one that turned out to be less than it seemed. Despite pledges to the contrary, Uranium One was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange and taken private. As of 2013, Rosatom's subsidiary, ARMZ, owned 100 percent of it.

Finally, Kessler claims that Hillary Clinton had no real role in the decision to approve the Uranium One acquisition:

[T]here is no evidence Clinton even was informed about this deal. ...

Hillary Clinton, by all accounts, did not participate in any discussions regarding the Uranium One sale which – as we noted – does not actually result in the removal of uranium from the United States.

The fellow senior political appointees who constituted the CFIUS committee most certainly want to exonerate their political ally, but that is no reason to accept their statements (which are not cited).  But the idea that the Hillary had no knowledge of the deal beggars belief, considering that over a hundred million dollars flowed into Clinton-related coffers from the beneficiaries of the deal, much of it flowing to a Canadian subsidiary charity whose donations do not have to be disclosed.

It also ignored that the "Russian reset" was Hillary's most prominent initiative in her term as SecState.

All in all, this "fact-checking" obscures more than it explains.  That may be a good index of the seriousness of the scandal and the depth of harm it threatens to inflict on the party supported by 80-90% of the WaPo's readers and journalists.

Hat tip: David Kahn and Mike Nadler

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