Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweizer (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2015, 243 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
September 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Peter Schweizer, the author of Extortion, Throw Them All Out, Architects of Ruin, and other books that have revealed political wrongdoing, and has been featured on 60 Minutes, in the New York Times, and elsewhere, has written a timely and provocative book; Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich. It is timely because Hillary is the presumptive Democratic candidate for president of the United States, with the excess baggage of Benghazi and the email controversy hanging over her head. This book really comes at a bad time for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
Schweizer, the cofounder and president of the Government Accountability Institute, a team of investigative researchers and journalists committed to exposing crony capitalism, misuse of taxpayer monies, and other governmental corruption or malfeasance, pulls no punches in outing Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The author indicates in Clinton Cash that when Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House, they owed millions in legal debt. Since then, they’ve earned over $130 million, and Schweizer answers in this book as to how it happened. He states that most people assume that the Clintons amassed their considerable wealth through lucrative book deals and speaking gigs that sometimes paid as much as $500,000 - $750,000. But who paid these fees, and why? Often foreign businessman and governments made the enormous payments, believing the Clintons would help advance their interests, according to the author.
In this eye-opening read, backed up with facts and extensively researched and footnoted, Schweizer reveals:
- The mysterious multimillion-dollar Foundation gift from an obscure Indian politician that coincided with Senator Clinton’s reversal on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty;
- How Secretary of State Clinton was involved in allowing the transfer of nearly 50 percent of U.S. domestic uranium output to the Russian government, benefiting large donors to the Clinton Foundation;
- How multi-million dollar contracts for Haiti disaster relief were awarded to donors and friends of Hillary and Bill;
- How Bill received large payments for speeches from foreign businesses and governments with matters pending before the State Department;
- How the Clinton’s joint visit to Columbia was followed by the grant of lucrative logging rights to a Canadian billionaire, a top Clinton Foundation donor;
- How Bill received $2 million for speeches from the largest shareholder in the Keystone Pipeline project, even as Hillary played a role in approving it.
Meticulously researched and scrupulously sourced, Clinton Cash raises serious and alarming questions of judgment, of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests, and, ultimately, of fitness for high public office. I reiterate, this book really comes at a bad time for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. There are mind-numbing revelations in this book that has shaken my belief in politics and government.
The irony of this well written and meticulously researched expose by Schweizer, is that in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s earlier written memoir, Hard Choices, which this writer also wrote a review of in the East County Magazine, she states: “I also did not want to do anything that would limit the life-saving work Bill was doing around the world through the Clinton Foundation. Much was made in the press about possible conflicts of interest between his philanthropic efforts and my potential new position. That problem was quickly dispatched after the Presidential Transition Team vetted the Foundation’s donors and Bill agreed to disclose all their names. Bill also had to give up holding overseas versions of the innovative philanthropy conference he had started, the Clinton Global Initiative, to avoid any perceived conflict.” In retrospect, and with the revelations made by Schweizer in Clinton Cash, one could argue that the Obama Presidential Transition Team did not do that good of a job of vetting the Clintons.
After Hillary’s appointment, the Clintons promised both the incoming Obama White House and the U.S. Senate that his speeches and business ties would be vetted by the State Department Ethics Office, again according to Schweizer. He points to a particular instance in which the State Department Ethics Office was willing to “consider” a “variation” on guidelines, they wrote to Clinton’s office. Ultimately Clinton declined the speech. His office said there was a scheduling problem.
The author points as an example, that prior to Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State, her husband Bill in his first eight years on the global lecture circuit, had never been paid to speak in Nigeria. But once Hillary was appointed secretary of state, he booked two of his top three highest-paid speeches ever by traveling to Nigeria, pulling in a whopping $700,000 each. The two speeches were allegedly underwritten by Nigerian media mogul Nduka Obaigbena, who owns Nigeria’s ThisDay newspaper. Schweizer further points out that Obaigbena, a solidly built man “with a taste for bespoke Lanvin suits,” professes “to live modestly and discreetly,” all the while maintaining a home in Lagos, a large estate in Nigeria’s Delta State, and a sleek penthouse at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC.
Schweizer points out in his book that one longtime Clinton benefactor is businessman Gilbert Chagoury, who has been implicated in corruption and bribery in Nigeria. Born in Lagos, Chagoury comes from a Lebanese family and has dual citizenship in Lebanon and the United Kingdom. He built a financial empire in Nigeria with the help of General Sani Abacha, a Nigerian dictator whose five-year tenure was “known for its corruption and brutality.” It is interesting to note that the two had a business partner in their activities; Marc Rich, the fugitive oil and commodities broker, whom Clinton would subsequently give a Presidential pardon.
Schweizer further points out in this well-researched and documented book, that in April 2010 Gilbert Chagoury and his brother Jack were indicted by the US Justice Department in a massive bribery scandal involving $6 billion and Halliburton, the same Halliburton that the Bush administration and Dick Cheney had been alleged to have been cozy with. Bribes had allegedly been paid to secure contracts in Nigeria. Eventually Chagoury and his brother were dropped from the case, and Halliburton settled with the federal government for $35 million.
Bill also took a $550,000 payment for an appearance in Shanghai at something called the Huatuo CEO forum, underwritten by Chinese billionaire Yan Jiche, according to the author Schweizer. He further points out that prior to Hillary’s appointment as secretary of state, Bill had given only two speeches on the Chinese mainland, for a total of $450.000.
Perhaps the most troubling of all the revelations in this book is the Russian purchase of a large share of America’s uranium assets. The Russian State Atomic Nuclear Agency (Rosatom) handles all things nuclear in Russia. Unlike the US Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Rosatom is not just deeply imbedded with civilian nuclear power but actually controls the Russian nuclear arsenal. In March 2010 Hillary was in Moscow for a meeting with Putin. Putin had set in motion the purchase of a controlling stake in “Uranium One” by Rosatom only a few months earlier, according to this riveting book by Schweizer.
In 2010, in reporting to the US government, Russian officials said they were looking to buy just more than 50 percent of the company and promised “not [to] increase its share in Uranium, One. Inc. But by the beginning of 2013, the Russian government moved to buy out the company’s other shareholders entirely. Today it owns the company outright, according to the author.
Still, despite a long record of publicly opposing such deals, Hillary didn’t object. Why the apparent reversal? Could it be because shareholders involved in the transactions had transferred approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives? Or because her husband had profited from lucrative speaking deals arranged by companies associated with those who stood to profit from the deal? Essentially, that is what Schweizer is conveying in CLINTON CASH: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOW AND WHY FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES HELPED MAKE BILL AND HILLARY RICH: This book is replete with similar such revelations.
Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.