woody zimmermann 120“Oh the Money Tree, the Money Tree –

It’s a beautiful sight to see.

Why couldn’t it happen to you and me?”

That golden oldie from the 1950s has been running through my mind in recent days. Of course, the Money Tree didn’t exactly happen to most of us. A few twigs, perhaps, but nothing like the capital-B Bonanza reaped by former President Bill (a.k.a. “Bubba”) Clinton and his blushing bride, Hillary Diane. Unlike the rest of us poor schmucks, they have hit it big – mostly under the radar – while the rest of the country was preoccupied with the crashing Twin Towers, war in Iraq, suicide-bombers, Abu Ghraib, water-boarding, Obama’s “coronation,” a crashing economy, the Benghazi embassy-killings, IRS corruption, the illegal immigration explosion, a runaway presidency, Obamacare, a massive Congressional turnover, et cetera, et cetera.

Only now has word begun to leak out that “gifts” of some $2 billion from foreign governments, businesses, investors and other “friends” have flowed into coffers of the “Clinton Foundation” – a good deal of it on its way to the personal pockets of the Clintons, including their 35-year-old married daughter, Chelsea. All of this wonderful outpouring of generosity has occurred after Mr. Clinton’s presidency and during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as senator and Secretary of State.

Donations and mega-fees for Bubba’s speeches ramped up during Mrs. Clinton’s run for the presidency in 2007-’08. And still more bucks have poured in during her tour as Secretary of State, when several countries she was dealing with reportedly sent large donations to the Clinton Foundation. Some investigative reporters are looking into whether the donations from foreign governments – some of them in the millions of dollars – represented a quid pro quo for favorable treatment by the USA, via Department of State recommendations. Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, details the source and timing of many of these donations.

The latest interesting fact to emerge is that the Russian government has gained majority-control of Uranium One, a Canadian uranium company which owns uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The company was formed by several long-time Clinton supporters, who made substantial donations to the Clinton Foundation during negotiations that ultimately permitted the Russian nuclear agency, Rosatom, to buy control of Uranium One. The deal significantly advanced Vladimir Putin’s goal of cornering the world’s uranium.

In their New York Times article of April 24, 2015, Jo Becker and Mike McIntire wrote:

“Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of U.S. government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

During the negotiations leading to this sale, Uranium One’s chairman made four donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling $2.35 million. Becker and McIntire further reported:

“Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Hillary Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.”

Following Mrs. Clinton’s departure from State – and undoubtedly linked to her all-but-certain 2016 candidacy for the presidency – “donations” have continued to bankroll the Clinton Foundation. An exact total is not yet available. But the money-gusher has finally drawn attention to how much of those donations are actually being applied to the “good works” the foundation is supposedly doing. Toward answering that question, recent reports show that only 15% of funds the Clinton Foundation receives are applied to actual charity work. The other 85% covers staff salaries, travel and various “expenses.” One report documents expenditures of some $50 million by the foundation on Bill Clinton’s travel expenses since 2003. (Rumors that he has rented the solid gold carriage once used by Hapsburg Empress Zita have not been confirmed.)

A new report indicates that the Clinton Foundation will revise and re-file five years of tax returns after questions arose about foreign government donations to the foundation while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State. According to the news agency Reuters, the foundation misreported millions in donations from foreign government sources – in some cases not distinguishing those donations from other revenues. Mrs. Clinton had previously said the foundation was not accepting foreign donations during her tenure at State – a claim now seen to be false.

In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the Russian uranium deal “looks like bribery…” Other political figures and commentators – not all of them Republicans – have also piled on. The word “treason” has been mentioned more than once. Many of Mrs. Clinton’s media allies, who had previously cheered her run for the White House, have either fallen silent or said in disappointed tones how bad this looks.  One well-known Democrat pol admitted that “it really doesn’t smell very good….”

To me – standing well downwind from it – the thing stinks to high heaven. Any Republican candidate caught in something like this would already be out of the race. Besides that, he (or she) would certainly be investigated and prosecuted by the FBI. The media would bury that poor devil under a mountain of accusation and condemnation. No need to wait for the trial. President Obama would pass sentence from the Rose Garden, using the opportunity to shed crocodile tears over the incurable corruption of all Republicans. It would be OVER. Total ruin. Disaster for the GOP.

This is obviously not happening to Miss Hillary or to Bubba. Experts in The Clinton Way say the Clintons will do what they always do. First, they will hunker down and let any ill winds blow over, if possible. They will remain silent about the thing as long as they can, while sending out various flunkies to claim that “there is not a shred of evidence” – as Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has already done. Mr. Fallon went on to say:

“To suggest [that] the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless.”

If the matter persists and simply cannot be ignored, one or both of the Clintons will go public – admitting that “mistakes were made,” while claiming that no actual laws were broken. Finally, if all else fails, they will heroically throw themselves on the mercy of the American people, “…for whom we have fought during our entire lives of public service…” With a lump in his eye and a tear in his throat, Bill Clinton will close by blessing “this great country.” Only an emotional call to “go home by way of the altar” (while a choir sings “Just as I am”) will be missing from this shameless faux-evangelical shtick. Somewhere, Elmer Gantry will be smiling…

Will it work this time? Probably… Well, make that a definite “Maybe.” Republican complaints won’t stop Mrs. Clinton because Big Media will defend her, saying it’s all about politics. But Democrats can actually keep her from blundering ahead with a defective presidential campaign, possibly wrecking her own party in the process. Remember – her supporters are mostly committed Democrats first, and Clinton aficionadas (a very distant) second. They want to put a new Democrat in the White House. So far, they have believed that Hillary could be the one. But they might also reach a point where enough of them think she is too damaged to win. That’s the wild card – the unknown in this equation. If that tipping point is reached, she’s toast.

Beyond the politics of the Russian deal and the foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation, what is the real problem with all this? A 10-year-old child could tell you that a serving Secretary of State openly accepting money from countries she is dealing with – even if the funds are funneled through a “foundation” run by (and for) her family – is an intolerable conflict of interest. A discovery that this was done covertly, in contravention of a sworn agreement to disclose such “gifts,” raises the more ominous specter of actual treason. This doesn’t just smell bad. It is bad! It goes far beyond politics. Even the staunchest pillars of her party can see this. That’s why the complaints we’re hearing are coming mainly from her end of the political spectrum.

I don’t often pray that Democrats will come to their senses in order to save the country, but I’m making an exception in this case. This is a dangerous, unscrupulous woman – completely unbound by any sense of propriety or patriotism – who believes rules apply to others, but not to her. She absolutely must not be allowed anywhere near the awesome powers of the presidency.

No matter how many different pants-suits she wears, or how many Botox treatments she receives, America will never be “ready for Hillary.” The thrill is gone – if it ever was there at all…