Republicans are pushing a verifiably fake conspiracy theory that goes something like this: Hillary Clinton approved the sale of American uranium to Russia in exchange for a large donation to the Clinton Foundation. It’s gotten to the point that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is thinking about appointing a special counsel to look into this fake theory.
Journalists ranging from MSNBC’s Joy Reid to Fox News’s Shep Smith have methodically debunked the theory. But one reason it lives on is because it’s so convoluted. It cherry-picks details that make it seem plausible that Clinton gave Russia a huge portion of America’s uranium.
In fact, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) showed us just how complicated the life of a conspiracy theorist can be when he presented this flowchart during a congressional hearing:
First, go cleanse your eyes of this visual catastrophe.
Are you back? Great.
We decided to clear up the issue by making a simple diagram that shows how the sale of Uranium One worked and then overlaying it with the conspiracy theory that many Republicans have been pushing.
I recommend reading the gray part first and then moving on to the red lines:
There are two very important things to notice here.
The first is that Clinton played little to no part in this approval process because as secretary of state, she headed an agency that was just one of many involved in the approval process — and even then, it was likely a lower-level staffer who handled the approval.
The second is that the person who donated the largest amount of money to the Clinton Foundation, Frank Giustra, didn’t even benefit from the sale. That’s because he said he sold his stake in Uranium One three years before this deal — and more than a year before Clinton began serving as secretary of state.
That’s why PolitiFact debunked this conspiracy theory long ago, but that hasn’t stopped President Trump from tweeting out insinuations like this:
...New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017
These types of messages push twisted, convoluted narratives that are hard to understand but imply that Clinton made a shady uranium deal with Russia. It ultimately sows uncertainty in our minds; it makes us wonder whether this could have happened. That’s why we won’t see a concise chart like this used to peddle this conspiracy theory.