Pay-for-play? Hillary hosted dinner for foundation donors -- including an alleged Iran-sanctions violator

Remember Walter Pinchuk? His name came up last year in an ongoing series of exposés regarding influence-peddling at the State Department through the Clinton Foundation. The steel tycoon got some face time with a “top Clinton aide” to argue on behalf of the Moscow-backed Yanukovich government in Ukraine, the Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger reported last October. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas did a deep dive on newly released e-mails from the State Department to discover that Pinchuk didn’t just get face time with an aide while donating big bucks to the Clinton Foundation — he got Hillary Clinton to host an official State Department dinner in June 2012 for Pinchuk and other foundation donors:


While she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton hosted a dinner involving Clinton Foundation donors, including a Ukrainian businessman who had given money to the organization and who had retained a lobbyist to arrange State Department meetings.

The dinner attended by Victor Pinchuk four years ago was mentioned in a new batch of State Department emails obtained by the conservative group Citizens United through public records requests and released on Tuesday.

The Clinton campaign has tried to make hay of Donald Trump’s supposed sympathies for Vladimir Putin through the now-dismissed Paul Manafort. This shows a much more corrupt tie to Putin’s allies, and the danger is not just in regard to Russia. As Newsweek reported in April 2015, Pinchuk allegedly violated sanctions on Iran even while Hillary feted him:

The fourth richest man in Ukraine, Pinchuk owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors.

Newsweek has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors.

Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m (1.7m) in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea.

Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m.


Fox News ran an essay at the time on this and other Clinton Foundation issues by Fred Fleitz, formerly chief of staff to then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton, wondering how Pinchuk managed to avoid punishment for those violations. Well, not wondering all that much, really:

These huge donations to the Clinton Foundation violated an agreement between the Clintons and the Obama administration that the Clinton Foundation would not accept foreign donations while she was Secretary of State. According to an April 23 Reuters report, the Clinton Foundation also did not report foreign donations in its tax filings to the IRS in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and is has begun to file amended tax returns for these years.

According to an April 18 Newsweek article, the Clinton Foundation also accepted donations from a firm that was violating nuclear trade sanctions against Iran. Interpipe, a Cyprus-incorporated company owned by Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, sold oil pipelines to Iran in 2011 and 2012 in violation of U.S. sanctions but was not sanctioned for these sales while Clinton was Secretary of State. On her show “The Kelly File,” Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly reported that between 2009 and 2013, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Kelly reported that Pinchuk also pledged more than $20 million more to the foundation.

Based on my experience working as Chief of Staff to John Bolton when he was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control in the George W. Bush administration, the Interpipe sales of pipeline equipment appears to be a serious violation of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran that required the State Department to impose immediately impose sanctions against this company and its officers. Congress needs to determine why sanctions were not imposed in this case and whether pressure was put on lower level State Department officials to overlook this violation.


A donation to the Clinton Foundation goes a long way, no? Interestingly, the WSJ article mentions nothing about the Iranian angle. Nicholas does point out, though, that Pinchuk had retained a lobbyist for business at the State Department during this period, making a mockery of Hillary’s pledge to cut off foreign donations and to refrain from engaging foundation donors as Secretary of State. And that lobbyist was none other than Douglas Schoen, a longtime Clintonista who briefly headed the PUMA movement after Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008. Does anyone think that would go unnoticed by Hillary?

This makes the scandal over the Lincoln Bedroom rentals look like an AirBnB test venture. Hillary’s State Department was for sale, and everyone knew it except the American people.

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