Did Hillary Clinton change her stance on Indian nukes in response to donations?

The latest potentially damning “Clinton cash” allegation involves a 2008 nuclear agreement between India and the United States. According to Politico, Peter Schweizer says that Hillary Clinton changed her position on the agreement after Indian business and government interests flooded various Clinton enterprises with cash.

The newly obtained chapter, titled “Indian Nukes: How to Win a Medal by Changing Hillary’s Mind,” details a series of donations and overtures from Indians who supported the nuclear deal to the Clintons, and points to one case of an Indian-American Clinton donor — who in April 2014 pleaded guilty in an illegal contribution scheme for Clinton’s 2008 run — receiving an award from the Indian government for his work in securing the agreement.

India wanted the agreement because, in 1998 Bill Clinton had imposed restrictions on the export of U.S. nuclear technology to India after India conducted nuclear tests that are said to have violated the nonproliferation treaty.

In 2005, with U.S.-India relations improving under President Bush, Indian interests began pushing to have the ban lifted. According to Schweizer, when legislation was proposed to make this happen, Sen. Hillary Clinton supported an amendment proposed by Sen. Russ Feingold that asked for Indian assurances that American nuclear fuel would not be used to increase fissile material production “in unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.” Schweizer says this amendment would have gutted the bill.

Around this time, according to Schweizer, a number of Indian interests poured money into the Clinton Foundation. In the end, Clinton supported the nuclear deal.

One of those involved in the process was Sant Chatwal, a New York hotelier. Chatwal, who reportedly helped arrange a $450,000 speech for Bill Clinton, says:

Even my close friend Hillary Clinton was not in favor of the deal [in 2006] … But when I put the whole package together, she also came on board. … In politics nothing comes free. You have to write cheques in the American political system.

Politico raises questions about some of Schweizer’s claims regarding the Indian nuclear deal. In particular, it disputes Schweizer’s statement that Clinton reversed her position on the deal in 2008. According to Politico:

While Clinton’s stance toward India evolved over the years, a review of then-Sen. Clinton’s statements and votes while the Indian nuclear deal was under debate shows that one of the key facts in Schweizer’s argument on the topic is false — Clinton actually publicly stated her support for the deal in 2006.

The timing is, of course, crucial. The “quo” must post-date the “quid.”

The key question, then, is not whether Clinton changed her position in 2008, but whether she changed it after Indian money began flowing to the Clintons. In other words, does the timing show that Clinton’s stance “evolved” as the cash came rolling in?

Stay tuned.

Responses