Official documents published by The Hill on Tuesday, October 17, reveal that before the Obama administration signed a controversial deal in October 2010 to sell the Canadian mining company, Uranium One, to the Russian nuclear company, Rosatom, FBI investigators had uncovered evidence that Russian officials engaged in extortion, bribery, kickbacks, and money laundering, to secure concessions for President Vladimir Putin in the U.S. atomic energy industry. The newly published documents reveal that FBI spies who infiltrated Russia’s nuclear industry obtained evidence that showed Moscow engaged in extensive criminal racketeering activity, including bribery, extortion, and money laundering, apparently to influence decision on the Uranium One deal with the Obama administration.
The FBI also obtained detailed documentary evidence that Russian officials donated millions of dollars to President Bill Clinton’s foundations while his wife, Hillary Clinton, sat as secretary of state on the Committee on Foreign Investment In The United States (CFIUS) that approved the Uranium One deal with Moscow. The CFUIS also included Attorney General Eric Holder.
Despite the extensive evidence of Russian racketeering obtained by the FBI in 2009 and 2010, the Obama administration reportedly insisted that there was no evidence that the Russians tried to use bribes and extortion to gain a foothold in the U.S. atomic energy industry, and that there were no national security concerns that would justify stopping the Uranium One deal with Moscow.
The Clintons also insisted that they had no knowledge of Russian racketeering and that Hillary Clinton had no evidence or reason as a member of the CFIUS to oppose the Uranium One deal.
Thus, in October 2010, the State Department, and the Committee on Foreign Investment In The United States (CFIUS), proceeded with a partial sale of Uranium One to the Russian nuclear company, Rosatom.
The deal with Rosatom, signed in October 2010, handed about 20 percent of U.S. uranium to Moscow, and helped to boost Putin’s influence in the U.S. nuclear energy industry.
Later in 2011, the Obama administration approved Rosatom’s subsidiary, Tenex, to sell uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants. Before the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom, Tenex was able to sell only reprocessed uranium from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons to power plants in the U.S.
When Donald Trump raised questions about the Uranium One deal while on the campaign trail last year, a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton said she was not involved in the committee review. The spokesperson also claimed that the State Department official who was involved in the review said that Clinton “never intervened… on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into the Russian bribery scandal and demanded that federal agencies disclose whether they knew that the FBI had gathered evidence of Russian criminal racketeering before the Obama administration approved the uranium deal with Moscow.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, saying that he did not find the assurances offered by the Obama administration in 2015 that it was not aware of FBI’s evidence of Russian bribery at the time it concluded the deal to sell Uranium One.
“The sale of Uranium One resulted in a Russian government takeover of a significant portion of U.S. uranium mining capacity. In light of that fact, very serious questions remain about the basis for the finding that this transaction did not threaten to impair U.S. national security.”
“The fact that Rosatom subsidiaries in the United States were under criminal investigation as a result of a U.S. intelligence operation apparently around the time CFIUS approved the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction raises questions about whether that information factored into CFIUS’s decision to approve the transaction,” Grassley said in another letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Department of Justice spent nearly four years investigating the evidence after the Obama administration had completed the deal. According to a source that spoke with The Hill, the Russians were found to have engaged in extortion threats, bribery, and kickbacks, that raised significant national security concerns. However, the DOJ under Obama kept the information about its investigation a secret, and it was only in November 2014 that the DOJ brought an indictment against Vadim Mikerin, a director of Rosatom’s Tenex.
The indictment stated that from 2009 to January 2012, Mikerin “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons… to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion.”
The DOJ investigations were supervised by the then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy attorney general, and the then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who now serves as deputy FBI director under Trump.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who was the House Intelligence Committee chairman at the time, told The Hill he was not aware of the Russian bribery and extortion. But he recalled that many lawmakers had serious reservations about the deal at the time.
“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them.”
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]