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From Russia With Money: Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset and Cronyism

From Russia With Money: Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset and Cronyism

Postby smix » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:44 pm

From Russia With Money: Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset and Cronyism
Government Accountability Institute

URL: https://www.g-a-i.org/wp-content/upload ... 012016.pdf
Category: Politics
Published: August 2016

Description:
Executive Summary
* A major technology transfer component of the Russian reset overseen by Hillary Clinton substantially enhanced the Russian military’s technological capabilities, according to both the FBI and the U.S. Army.
* Russian government officials and American corporations participated in the technology transfer project overseen by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that funnelled tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
* A Putin-­connected Russian government fund transferred $35 million to a small company with Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta on its executive board, which included senior Russian officials.
* John Podesta failed to reveal, as required by law on his federal financial disclosures, his membership on the board of this offshore company.
* Podesta also headed up a think tank which wrote favorably about the Russian reset while apparently receiving millions from Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs via an offshore LLC.
Introduction
During her tenure as Secretary of State, one of Hillary Clinton’s major policy initiatives was the “reset” in relations with Russia. The idea was to begin the U.S.-Russia relationship anew, unburdened by recent Russian government actions or Bush Administration policies that had caused tensions between Moscow and Washington. The reset was one of President Obama’s “earliest new foreign policy initiatives,” according to the White House, and was based on the belief that relations with Russia had become unnecessarily mired in conflict over a handful of issues during the Bush Administration. In short, the Obama Administration wanted what it called “win-win outcomes.” As America’s chief diplomat, Secretary Clinton was the point person on the reset, handling a range of issues from arms control to technological cooperation. Those matters she did not handle herself were managed by close aides under her direction. On July 6, 2009, President Barack Obama visited Moscow, and together with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, announced the creation of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. The Bilateral Commission would be the heart and soul of the Russia reset, with the goal to “improve communication and cooperation between the governments of Russia and the United States.” In addition, the Commission would work at “identifying areas of cooperation and pursuing joint projects and actions that strengthen strategic stability, international security, economic well-being, and the development of ties between the Russian and American people….” Specifically, as it related to technology transfer and investment, the Commission played a key role in everything from intellectual property sharing to export licensing to facilitating American investment in Russia and Russian investment in America. President Obama and Medvedev announced that the work of the Commission would be directed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. As President Obama put it, the effort would “be coordinated by Secretary Clinton and Minister Lavrov, and Secretary Clinton [would] travel to Russia [that] fall to carry [that] effort forward.” As Mark Landler of the New York Times put it, “Clinton was the most visible early exponent of the [reset] policy.” While some Clinton aides attempted to create the impression after she left office that the reset was solely an Obama initiative, the record shows otherwise. According to Philip Gordon, Clinton’s assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, “It would be wrong to say that Obama imposed it on her. We saw the logic and bought into it.” As Landler puts it, Clinton was not pushing the reset just out of duty to Obama. According to leaked U.S. government cables, U.S. State Department officials beginning in 2009 played a substantial role in assisting Russian government entities in accessing U.S. capital and in seeking investments in U.S. high technology companies. Specifically, they worked to support the efforts of the Russian State Investment Fund, Rusnano, to seek investment opportunities in the United States by arranging meetings with U.S. tech firms. They also crafted and delivered joint statements with Russian officials on cooperation on technological matters. In short, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and coordinator of the Bilateral Commission would be at the center of U.S. decision-making. Hillary Clinton was deeply engaged in fostering U.S. ties to Russia. In addition to four major visits to Russia itself, Secretary Clinton communicated numerous other times with foreign minister Lavrov and other officials. It should also be pointed out that Bill Clinton met with Vladimir Putin on at least two occasions in 2009 and 2010. According to Hillary Clinton’s emails released by the State Department, she sent or received at least 894 emails that include the term “Russia” during her tenure as Secretary of State. When there was agreement on a subject and the details needed to be worked out, Hillary Clinton’s closest aides worked with their Russian counterparts on everything from business ties, research cooperation, and arms control. In short, no cabinet official in the Obama Administration was more intimately and directly involved in the Russian reset than Hillary Clinton.
The Reset Begins

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In early March 2009, Hillary Clinton was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a meeting with her Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. As they met in her hotel’s Salon Panorama, so named for its full view of the city, Clinton presented Lavrov a small yellow box with a bright red button. It was her first meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and she wanted to symbolize the need to push the “reset button.” The button was labeled “peregruzka,” which doesn’t actually mean “reset,” but rather “overcharge”. But everyone was in a good mood. “We are entering into our renewed relationship with our eyes open,” Secretary Clinton said. “We think there are a number of areas where there could be cooperation ... there are also areas where we strongly disagree.” In the months that followed, both sides scored early diplomatic successes. The Russian government, for example, “agreed to allow U.S. weapons and personnel to pass through Russian airspace en route to Afghanistan.” This was of huge benefit to U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan. The Obama Administration subsequently scrapped George W. Bush’s plan to install missile defense systems across Eastern Europe, something Vladimir Putin roundly criticized. But there were areas of disagreement, too, including Middle East policy and how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. Progress was slow on these thorny issues. One area of quick movement and success was on technological cooperation and financial investment. In theory, the idea was simple: encourage U.S. companies to invest in Russia to tap the country’s strengths in basic scientific talent while creating opportunities for Russian investment in U.S. tech companies. Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration saw the opportunity for widespread technological cooperation between the U.S. and Russia. During her October 2009 visit to Russia, she noted the country’s strength in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics): “[I]t’s just a treasure trove of potential for the Russian economy.” Vice President Joe Biden echoed that sentiment two years later during his visit to Russia: “Closer cooperation will allow American companies to benefit from greater access to Russia’s deep pool of talented engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists.” According to leaked State Department cables, Russian government officials were told that the Obama Administration saw “building the science and technology (S & T) relationship with Russia as an important pillar in strengthening overall bilateral relations….” Technological cooperation and investment deals seemed to be the sort of “win-win” deals President Obama said he sought. But as we will see, the Clintons and close aides appear to have personally benefitted from such deals. And these deals also raised serious questions from the FBI, the U.S. Army, and foreign governments that the Russian military was benefitting from them as well.
Skolkovo
A major part of this technological cooperation included Russian plans to create its own version of Silicon Valley. The research facility, on the outskirts Moscow, was dubbed “Skolkovo” and would be developed with the cooperation and investment of major U.S. tech firms. In 2010, Cisco pledged a cool $1 billion to Skolkovo, and Google and Intel also jumped on board. (All three happened to be major Clinton Foundation supporters as well—as we will see, a significant factor for dozens of companies who became involved with Skolkovo.) The idea was simple: match Russian brainpower with U.S. investment dollars and entrepreneurial know-how to spark technological breakthroughs in a wide variety of areas including energy, communications, sensors, and propulsion systems. Unlike the freewheeling, decentralized, and entrepreneurial culture in California, Skolkovo would have a distinctly different culture. It would be more centralized, and dominated by Russian government officials. Skolkovo was launched as “entirely a state project,” in the words of Walter Laqueur writing in Foreign Affairs. There would be housing for 30,000 people, as well as schools, shops, and parks designed by the government. The Russian government pledged to spend some $5 billion over three years to put Skolkovo together. The Russians desired major U.S. tech firms in Skolkovo. A Skolkovo Foundation was established to manage that effort. Ultimately dozens of U.S. tech firms including Cisco, Google, and Intel would make major financial contributions to the project. Hillary Clinton praised the initiative in a joint statement with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. The statement praised American companies like Cisco and Microsoft for “participating in Russia’s Skolkovo Innovation Center Project, with over a billion dollars committed.” She continued, “The opening of a Russian Innovation Center (representing Rusnano, Russian Venture Company, and Skolkovo) in the Silicon Valley will act as another bridge connecting American and Russian high tech companies, investors, and scientific research institutions.” The State Department played an active role early on by setting up meetings for Russian officials with U.S. technology companies. According to Hillary Clinton, she inspired then-Russian President Dimitry Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley to encourage participation in Skolkovo. As she reported in her memoirs, “At a long meeting I had with Medvedev outside Moscow in October 2009, he raised his plan to build a high-tech corridor in Russia modelled after our own Silicon Valley. When I suggested that he visit the original in California, he turned to his staff and told them to follow up.” And indeed, on June 22-24, 2010, Russian President Medvedev visited the United States and travelled to Silicon Valley to meet with tech executives. Medvedev met with high tech executives and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and encouraged the firms to set up shop in Skolkovo. Medvedev put on quite a show. As he prepared to leave, he turned to Schwarzenegger and mimicked lines from his movie Terminator 2. “I’ll be back,” he told Schwarzenegger. “Hasta la vista—baby.” It was a fine performance. In May 2010, the State Department facilitated a Moscow visit by 22 of the biggest names in the U.S. venture capital market. The visit was a concrete sign that relations on commercial ties were warming. “This is the first highly visible, concrete evidence that there are major changes taking place in attitudes toward one another on the commercial side,” opined economist David Kemme from the University of Memphis. To get American companies to participate in Skolkovo, the Russian government promised to give American firms special access to research and projects taking place in Russia. Companies participating in Skolkovo would receive special tax status and access to the Russian market. They would also receive special access to research in Russia. For example, one investment firm received “priority access to the database of the Skolkovo Foundation projects and companies, enabling it to select the most promising projects early in their development.” It further allowed companies to “refer their existing portfolio of companies to Skolkovo” for research. There was also the prospect of gaining access to Russian markets, which had been hampered by export licensing issues involving the export of sensitive technologies. The U.S. State Department had major responsibility for the issuing of export licenses and maintained the list of restricted technologies. The State Department actively and aggressively encouraged American firms to participate in Skolkovo. Indeed, many of the Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) signed by U.S. companies to invest and cooperate in Skolkovo were signed under the auspices of Hillary Clinton’s State Department. The U.S. Co-Chair of that working group was close Clinton friend and advisor Robert Hormats. Described by CNBC as Hillary Clinton’s “economic guru,” Hormats has a history as a Clinton donor and associate. On September 23, 2009, Robert Hormats joined the State Department as the Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs. When visiting Moscow on October 30, 2012, the embassy recorded that Hormats was “enthusiastic” about the work of the group and “noted that this partnership on innovation would strengthen U.S.Russian relations.” Hormats made clear the State Department line in June 2011 when he said, “Innovation can be a tool of economic engagement between the United States and Russia, through collaboration in cutting-edge fields like biomedical research and smart-grid technology. It is also important for the two countries to collaborate on the development of Skolkovo, an innovation hub based outside Moscow, because its success can have broader positive effects in Russia.” The other senior State Department official involved in the Skolkovo process was the Lorraine Hariton, the State Department’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs. (Hariton served on Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Committee during the 2008 campaign.) Hariton, along with Russia’s deputy minister of economic development Oleg Fomichev, served as the cocoordinators of the Innovation Working Group. Hariton was in communication with Hillary Clinton’s top advisors during her tenure at the State Department. At least two of Hariton’s emails were redacted by State Department officials prior to their release.
Money to the Clintons
Many of the key figures in the Skolkovo process — on both the Russian and U.S. sides — had major financial ties to the Clintons. During the Russian reset, these figures and entities provided the Clintons with tens of millions of dollars, including contributions to the Clinton Foundation, paid for speeches by Bill Clinton, or investments in small start-up companies with deep Clinton ties. In 2012 Skolkovo released its first annual report which identified the “key partner service”. Key Partners are entities who have made substantial commitments to develop the Skolkovo research facility. Conor Lenihan, vicepresident of the Skolkovo Foundation, who had previously partnered with the Clinton Foundation, released a PowerPoint presentation that included a list of 28 Russian, American, and European Key Partners.50 Of those 28, 17 of them, or 60 percent, have made financial commitments to the Clinton Foundation or sponsored speeches by Bill. The Clinton Foundation only discloses donations in ranges, so it is impossible to determine the precise amount of money the Skolkovo benefactors gave to the Clinton Foundation, but based on those disclosures, the money ranges from $6.5 to $23.5 million. However, keep in mind that the Clinton Foundation has admitted that it has failed to release the names of all of its contributors, so the amount could be substantially higher. Many of those involved in Skolkovo who also donated to the Clinton Foundation have deep ties to the Clintons. For example, John Chambers, the head of Cisco, and member of the Skolkovo Foundation, received the Clinton Global Initiative Citizen’s Award from Bill Clinton. Chambers and Cisco have given between $1 to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Craig Barrett, former head of Intel Corporation, served on the board of the Skolkovo Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative. Intel has given between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Those on the Russian side of the Skolkovo research project have also donated to the Clinton Foundation. The man heading up the Skolkovo Foundation in Russia is a controversial figure named Viktor Vekselberg. Described as “one oligarch who isn’t afraid to get down and dirty” (Fortune magazine) and “the oligarch’s oligarch” (Esquire), Vekselberg made his billions in the oil and metals sectors. Vekselberg is a Putin confidant and a Clinton Foundation donor via his company, Renova Group. The Clintons were clearly cultivating their relationship with Vekselberg during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State. On June 4, 2012, the foreign policy director at the Clinton Foundation, Amitabh Desai, reached out to Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Michael Fuchs at the State Department via email. The subject line was “Russia/Viktor Vekselberg?” Vekselberg and his company the Renova Group had contributed between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. It read, “Would [the State Department] have any concerns about [Clinton Global Initiative] inviting Viktor Vekselberg, President of Renova Group, to attend CGI Annual Meeting in NYC in September?” The email appears to have gone unanswered. Vekselberg did, indeed, come to the U.S. in October 2012. In October 2012, Vekselberg hosted a fundraising gala at Fort Ross in California. Both Putin and Hillary Clinton sent messages of congratulations. Back in June 2010 Vekselberg committed $1 million to Keep California’s Fort Ross up and running. Fort Ross, which was founded in California 200 years ago, was the first European settlement on the west coast. About 90 miles north of San Francisco, it was settled by Russians as a trading hub for hunting sea otters and supplying food to other settlements in Alaska. In 2013, Vekselberg was accused by associates of funneling Skolkovo money into his own bank accounts. He denies the charge. Another Russian figure deeply involved with Skolkovo who had financial ties to the Clintons is Andrey Vavilov. The former Russian government official is the Chairman of SuperOx, which is part of the Nuclear Cluster at Skolkovo. The Nuclear Cluster at Skolkovo is committed to enhancing the nuclear capabilities of the Russian state. A major listed beneficiary of this research is Rosatom, the Russian State Nuclear Agency, which manages the country’s nuclear arsenal. Vavilov has donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Rosatom, through its subsidiary ARMZ, purchased a Canadian uranium company called Uranium One in 2010 which held assets in the United States and therefore required State Department approval. Nine Uranium One shareholders donated more than $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. Some of those donations, including those by Uranium One Chairman Ian Telfer, had not been disclosed by the Clinton Foundation. Another prominent Russian figure who appears to have given to the Clinton foundation is Elena Baturina, the wife of the former Mayor of Moscow and the founder of JSC Inteco, the entity through which the Foundation received its money. That entity donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Her company, Inteco, has its own history with Skolkovo relating to a dispute over the land that borders the Skolkovo Innovation Park. Baturina later became a partner in Skolkovo events and JSC Inteco received contracts to build residential housing.
Rusnano: Putin’s Child
Another important player in the reset was a Russian government investment fund called Rusnano (the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies). Rusnano was “founded by Putin” in 2007. Rusnano claims that it “implements state policy for the development of the nanoindustry in Russia, acting as a co-investor in nanotechnology projects, which have substantial economic or social potential.” Indeed, Rusnano relies entirely on Russian state funding for its investment in nanotechnology. As Andrei Fursenko, the former Russian education and science minister and current science advisor to Vladimir Putin describes it, “[Rusnano] is ‘Putin’s child.’” The head of Rusnano is Anatoly Chubais, who had long and strong ties with the Clintons. During the 1990s, Chubais, as deputy prime minister of Russia, was pushing for reform and privatization of state industry. As one scholar noted, “in the name of privatization, loans for shares transferred control of many of Russia's prime assets for token sums to seven preselected bank chiefs” and other oligarchs. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Chubais and his clique of political and financial power brokers, known as the ‘Chubais clan,’ were the darlings of the U.S. Treasury Department and international financial institutions.” As a result, the Clinton Administration “gave the Chubais clan much control over hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.”76 Chubais reportedly plucked Putin out of relative obscurity and made him the head of Russia’s FSB (Federal Security Service). According to a leaked State Department cable, the U.S. State Department was eager to facilitate Chubais’ meetings with U.S. tech executives and helped set up meetings. Rusnano was looking to invest Russian government money in western technology companies. But the money from Rusnano did not come without strings. As Bloomberg reported, “Firms that accept Rusnano funds must transfer technologies to Russia, build laboratories there, train local scientist and, in some cases, give Russians patent rights for the products developed.” Even given these strings, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during Hillary Clinton’s tenure referred American tech companies to Rusnano to seek investment. “We routinely recommend to American companies that they should talk to Rusnano,” said John McCaslin, “the U.S. minister counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.”
The Flow of Rusnano Money
Few Washington officials are tighter to the Clintons than John Podesta. As The New Republic puts it, John Podesta is “extremely close,” to Hillary Clinton. Indeed, it was John Podesta (among others) who advanced the idea to Obama of appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, according to New York Times correspondent Mark Landler. During the Bill Clinton Administration, Podesta served as White House Chief of Staff. Beginning in 2003, Podesta served as the President of the Center for America Progress (CAP), which has been described as an “administration-in-waiting” for the Democratic Party. Podesta later became Counselor to President Barack Obama in the White House. More recently, in January, 2015, Podesta became the campaign chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the 2016 presidential bid. During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, he was in regular contact with her and played an important role in shaping U.S. policy.

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For one thing, he sat on the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, appointed by Hillary. (The board was established in December 2011.) The full extent of Podesta’s email communication cannot ultimately be known because Hillary Clinton deleted approximately half of her emails after she left the State Department. Of the emails that remain, there is ample evidence that Podesta played a major role in advising her. According to publicly released emails, as early as May 20, 2009, Podesta joined Clinton for a working dinner in the Monroe Room at the State Department. Other emails indicate that a “monthly thinking group” met at the State Department with Clinton including John Podesta and six others. Podesta and Secretary Clinton exchanged emails concerning personnel matters. Podesta was also actively involved in reviewing and helping to edit Hillary Clinton’s speeches. There were emails in which Podesta would reach out and speak with Clinton about his meetings with foreign leaders. Clearly these emails at times covered sensitive subjects; numerous email exchanges between Podesta and senior State Department officials were redacted because they dealt with sensitive material. In June and July 2011, during the time period that he was advising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, John Podesta joined the board of three related entities: Joule Unlimited, a small Massachusetts-based energy company; its holding company, Joule Global Holdings, N.V., which was based in the Netherlands; and Joule Global Stichting, which appears to be the ultimate controlling entity. According to corporate records, Podesta served on the “executive board.” Joule was a new company, founded in 2007, and claimed to pioneer a technology they called “Liquid Fuel from the Sun,” a technology based on harnessing solar energy. Podesta consulted for a foundation run by one of the investors in Joule Energy, Hans-Jorg Wyss, a major Clinton Foundation donor. The Wyss Charitable Foundation has given between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Podesta was paid $87,000 by the Wyss Foundation in 2013, according to federal tax records. Podesta’s compensation by Joule cannot be fully determined. In his 2014 federal government disclosure filing, Podesta lists that he divested stock options from Joule. However, the disclosure does not cover the years 2011-2012. Joule Global Stichting was established in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on March 14, 2011. John Podesta joined the company’s executive board on June 25, 2011. The Joule Stichting is a Foundation, but it’s not strictly a foundation in the charitable sense. A foundation of this type is a popular means for reducing one’s tax burden. The Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, at the heart of the Panama Papers investigation, touts the tax benefits of setting up a Dutch Stichting on its website. The global furniture giant IKEA, for example, is controlled in a similar way by a Dutch-registered, tax-exempt Stichting. The Economist described the arrangement: “The overall set-up of IKEA minimises tax and disclosure, handsomely rewards the founding Kamprad family and makes IKEA immune to a takeover. And if that seems too good to be true, it is: these arrangements are extremely hard to undo. The benefits from all this ingenuity come at the price of a huge constraint on the successors to Ingvar Kamprad, the store's founder… to do with IKEA as they see fit. The parent for all IKEA companies—the operator of 207 of the 235 worldwide IKEA stores—is Ingka Holding, a private Dutch-registered company. Ingka Holding, in turn, belongs entirely to Stichting Ingka Foundation. This is a Dutch-registered, tax-exempt, non-profit-making legal entity, which was given the shares of Mr Kamprad in 1982. ... Yet, though control over IKEA is locked up, the money is not.” Although John Podesta is listed on the corporate records, he failed to disclose his membership on the board of Joule Stichting in his federal financial disclosure forms when he joined the Obama White House as a senior advisor. Joule executives made clear why Podesta was placed on the board: the decision was based on his “considerable expertise ... in the realm of public policy as well as partnering with the public sector.” He was not joining the board because he had a background in energy. But with Podesta on the Joule board, according to the company, they “gained the strategic insights and support of a long-time government expert who can help Joule build the lasting relationships needed for long-term success.” Presumably those “lasting relationships” included government officials. Podesta was not the only board member on Joule with strong Clinton ties. Also on the board was Graham Allison, a Harvard academic who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for President Bill Clinton. Two months after Podesta joined the board, Vladimir Putin’s Rusnano announced that it would invest up to one billion rubles into Joule Unlimited, which amounts to $35 million. That represents one fifth of the entire amount of investment dollars Joule collected from 2007 to 2013. As we’ve seen, it is hard to underestimate how close Rusnano is to the political-military elite in Russia. Indeed, in February 2012, Anatoly Chubais, the Chairman of Rusnano, joined the Joule board of directors. According to some reports, the Rusnano investment in Joule was in part money to build a research center in Russia. John Podesta recounted in 2014 the first time he met with Vladimir Putin. It was in 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton was visiting Moscow. Podesta joined Clinton for an evening with the new Prime Minister of Russia. As Podesta put it, “We saw Putin and then we had the evening free. We went to the Café Pushkin in Moscow, and as is habit in Moscow, we started drinking vodka shots... I don’t know how I managed to get out of bed [the next morning]. I wouldn’t even describe myself as hungover; alcohol was still pouring out of my pores.” The billion ruble investment in Joule energy was a large part of Joule’s funds raised at the time. In 2012 they raised another $70 million, for a total of about $110 million. Joule is a controversial company. As the industry publication E and E put it, the company has made “grandiose claims” about its ability to generate energy from photosynthetic bugs. Indeed, the company seemed to be in on the joke, decorating its office with models of winged pigs, as in “when pigs fly.” The company’s competitors and scientific peers claimed that the “company remains vague in backing up its claims, even in its patent applications.” And indeed, as of this writing in 2016, the company has not announced that it has moved beyond the research and development phase. However, Joule claimed that it would “go commercial in 2017.” As we will see, the FBI sent a letter to Boston-area companies and MIT in 2014 raising concerns about Russian-backed investment in U.S. high tech start-ups. Joule declined to comment on the letter. But the flow of funds from Russia during the “reset” to Podesta-connected entities apparently didn’t end with Joule Energy. Beginning in 2003, John Podesta took the helm at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank in Washington D.C. During the Bush Administration, the organization was regarded somewhat as an “administration-in-waiting” because of its close contact with the Clintons. Podesta left CAP in December 2013 to become a senior official in the Obama White House. In July 2009, CAP released a 68-page study advocating for closer relations with the Russian government. The piece called for “deepening economic ties,” with Russia and argued that U.S. economic interest would be furthered “through increased trade ties and an improved investment climate.” The monograph, which was scholarly in appearance, argued that critics who favored a “tough” approach with Russia were “producing outcomes that are not in the national interest of the United States.” CAP became an early and persistent cheerleader for the reset. CAP Russia analyst Samuel Charap boasted, “There have been concrete achievements for U.S. national security from this policy, which didn’t give away anything in order to get them.” Those who opposed the reset on national security grounds were criticized as engaging in “reset-bashing,” which was based on analysis that “is deeply misleading,” he said. Critics were “blinded by their rage that they simply refuse to acknowledge its successes and have conveniently forgotten how disastrous the alternative—an antagonistic U.S.-Russia relationship—is for U.S. national interests and Russia’s own development.” In 2011, Charap left CAP and joined the State Department as an advisor to the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. CAP support for the Russian reset occurred as the organization was apparently taking in funds from Russian-connected entities. From 2010 to 2013, CAP took in $5.25 million from the Sea Change Foundation. Who was funding Sea Change Foundation? According to tax records, Sea Change Foundation at the time was receiving a large infusion of funds from a mysterious Bermuda-based entity called “Klein, Ltd.” It is interesting to note that prior to receiving funds from Klein, Ltd., Sea Change apparently had never contributed to the CAP before, according to federal tax filings. Who owns Klein? It is impossible to say exactly, given corporate secrecy laws in Bermuda. But the registered agent and lawyers who set up the offshore entity are tied to a handful of Russian business entities including Troika Dialog, Marcuard Spectrum, and Firebird New Russia Fund. Curiously, Troika Dialog, Ltd. leadership includes Ruben Vardanyan, an ethnic Armenian who is a mega oligarch in Putin’s Russia. Vardanyan also served on the board of Joule Energy with John Podesta. And Firebird New Russia Fund is owned by Firebird Management, which is a co-owner of a Russian Joint Stock Company called Pharmsynthez. Their partner in Pharmsynthez is Rusnano, which is, of course, the investment fund invested in Joule. Sea Change Foundation received $23 million from Klein, Ltd., according to tax records. Klein is a Bermudan company. Its charter states that charitable work is its sole purpose. The officers listed on Klein’s founding documents are Nicholas J. Hoskins and Marlies A. Smith. Hoskins is a partner and Smith is a legal secretary at the upscale and scandal-laden Bermudan law firm Wakefield Quin (WQ). WQ and its attorneys enjoy longstanding, and in some cases notorious, relationships with high-level Russian political and business “oligarchs.” Reports in 2014 and 2015, from the media and on Capitol Hill, raised the issue of WQ’s deep ties to Russian oil and gas. It has been argued that the money Klein provided to Sea Change Foundation ultimately funded environmental activism opposed to American fracking and natural gas exports. (Halting or reducing U.S. fracking and reducing gas exports would cut global production and thereby raise prices for the benefit of the Russian investor.) WQ and its attorneys protested the reporting as mere conspiracy theory and pointed out that no Bermudan laws were broken. However, they refused to clarify whether the money Klein provided to Sea Change Foundation originated with WQ’s high-level Russian clients or somewhere else. Then strong statements in 2014 and 2015 by both then-NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen124 and former NATO Commanding General Wesley Clarke, without naming Klein, directly affirmed that Russian money funded opposition to domestic fracking in the West. Clark went so far as to point the finger at Vladimir Putin directly. Was Klein a vehicle for targeting American energy production? Perhaps. But there is also evidence of a strong connection between WQ, which handles Klein, Ltd. and Joule Energy. Nicholas Hoskins was and is a corporate officer with one of Russia’s original investment banks, Troika Dialog. Until its January 2012 merger with Russian state-owned Sberbank, Troika’s chairman was the ethnic Armenian mega-oligarch, Ruben Vardanyan. Vardanyan sits on the board of Joule Energy itself. Vardanyan is a legend in Russian business, establishing an investment bank in the cutthroat Russian atmosphere of the 1990s, and in the early Putin era sitting on commissions that decided what rate state power companies would charge Russia’s notorious aluminum oligarchs. However, WQ’s most intriguing and troubling Kremlin connection is to longtime Putin confidante Leonid Reiman. In the 1990s, Reiman ran the public telephone utility in Saint Petersburg, reportedly giving a job to Putin’s then-wife Lyudmila. From 1999 and for nearly a decade after, Reiman served as Putin’s Telecommunications minister and was widely believed to have siphoned state assets offshore to his own benefit—charges he denies to this day. But in 2008, courts in both Zurich and the British Virgin Islands identified him as the ultimate beneficiary of a far-flung money-laundering structure known as “IPOC.” Both courts identified two WQ attorneys as officers in IPOC subsidiaries: one Roderick Forrest, an officer for the Sea Change Foundation, and the other being Klein’s own Nicholas Hoskins. The case remains publicly on file with the World Bank’s Stolen Assets Recovery database, Forrest’s company and Hoskin’s name clearly listed as part of it. Reiman, as it turns out, has his own connection to Skolkovo and Rusnano. Reiman is the owner of the Russian microchip maker Angstrem. In July, 2012, Angstrem announced a cooperation agreement with IBM. The announcement was made in St. Petersburg in concert with Rusnano and other state-owned investment vehicles such the Russian Venture Company.
Teneo and Profiteering on the Reset
The Russian Reset also served the interests of Teneo, the Clinton-connected business consultancy. Formed by two close Clinton aides, Declan Kelly and Doug Band, the firm touts its connections and access to the centers of power around the world. Declan Kelly served as an Economic Envoy for Hillary Clinton at the State Department beginning in 2009 and became chairman and CEO of Teneo. Cofounder Doug Band was a long-time personal aide to Bill Clinton. In 2011, with the reset in full swing, Teneo made a hard push into the Russian influence business. It opened an office in Moscow and brought on board Michael Madden to serve as Chairman of Teneo Capital and Restructuring. Madden had founded Renaissance Credit Group in 2003, a financial firm in Moscow. Madden had deep ties to the Russian leadership. Back in 1993 he set up American Express’ operations in Russia and met a young ambitious intelligence officer named Vladimir Putin. At the time Putin was the head of foreign business registrations. Teneo also brought on board Andrew Somers, another businessman with deep Russian ties. From 2000 to 2013, Somers had been the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, where he dealt regularly with the Russian regime. During his tenure, the Chamber provided “business input into the Russian American Presidential Bilateral Commission” that Hillary Clinton co-chaired. He played a “key role in the July 2009 Moscow Business Summit.” He was brought on at Teneo Holdings as a “senior advisor.” At this same time, in June 2011, Teneo signed Bill Clinton to a lucrative consulting deal, said to be worth $1 million. When this arrangement was disclosed the following year, prompting a media outcry, Bill Clinton announced he was “changing” his relationship with Teneo in March of 2012. What that change included is unclear. According to Teneo’s website, they leverage “deep global relationships, experience and intellectual capabilities” that allow them to “sit at the center of information and networks, offering unparalleled execution to capture opportunities and solve complex problems.” Because Teneo is a private entity and was so intertwined with the Hillary Clinton State Department, it is difficult but important to know precisely what the nature of their work in Russia might be. Were they steering clients to deals in Skolkovo? Did they work with companies to secure capital from Rusnano?
National Security Implications
The serious questions raised by Hillary Clinton’s pushing of technology transfer and investments as part of the Russian reset don’t end with the issues of self-dealing and cronyism. There are serious national security questions that have been raised about both Skolkovo and Rusnano, by the FBI, the U.S. Army, and cybersecurity experts. Specifically, these experts have argued that the activities of Skolkovo and Russian investment funds like Rusnano are ultimately serving the interests of the Russian military.
Skolkovo
In 2014, the FBI sent letters to a number of firms involved with Skolkovo in what was called “an extraordinary warning issued to technology companies.” The FBI’s Boston Office warned U.S. tech companies that Skolkovo could draw them unwittingly into industrial espionage. The FBI warning singled out the Skolkovo Foundation, with which Hillary Clinton and the State Department had actively encouraged American companies to work. (Memorandums of Understanding signed by American companies to work with Skolkovo were done under the auspices of the State Department.) “The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application,” warned Lucia Ziobro, the assistant special agent at the FBI’s Boston office. She noted that the Skolkovo Foundation had signed deals with the Russian military contractor OJSC Kamaz, which builds military vehicles for the Russian Armed Forces. “The FBI believes the true motives of the Russian partners, who are often funded by their government, is to gain access to classified, sensitive, and emerging technology from the companies,” said Ziobro. Skolkovo’s link to the Russian military-intelligence apparatus is not in dispute. In 2011, when Russian spy Anna Chapman was deported from the U.S. on espionage charges, she returned to Russia and quickly emerged at—of all places—Skolkovo. Chapman was steered to the research center, and the director of Skolkovo suggested she “apply for a $1 million research grant for some projects with the Young Guards,” a pro-Putin youth group. The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth issued a report in 2013 (written in 2012) about the security implications of Skolkovo. The report declared that the purpose of Skolkovo was to serve as a “vehicle for worldwide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.” Of course, technology can have multiple uses—both civilian and military. And the report noted that “the Skolkovo Foundation has, in fact, been involved in defense-related activities since December 2011, when it approved the first weapons-related project—the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine. The project is a response to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, part of the Prompt Global Strike program. Sophisticated physical security, consisting of cameras, thermal imaging, and alarms, also suggests that not all of the center’s efforts are civilian in nature.” Because of the way Skolkovo operates, “the government’s operation of Skolkovo and investment positions in companies will likely provide its military awareness of and access to technologies.” The report further noted that “Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage—with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently.” In short, the FBI and the U.S. Army have raised serious concerns about these activities serving to subsidize and enhance the military technological capabilities of the Russian government. Many Skolkovo research projects incorporate “dual-use” technologies, meaning they have both civilian and military application. The Skolkovo Foundation admits as much in its own publications. For example, Skolkovo officials cite successes in a creating a device called an Atlant, a hybrid airship that is being developed in the Skolkovo Aeronautical Center. In its own publication Made in Skolkovo, the foundation notes, “Particularly noteworthy is Atlant’s ability to deliver military cargoes. The introduction of this unique vehicle if fully consistent with the concept of creating a mobile army and opens up new possibilities for mobile use of the means of radar surveillance, air and missile defense, and delivery of airborne troops.” Other Skolkovo entities are open about their military research purposes. Radio Vision is a Skolkovo partner based in Russia doing work on communications equipment for the armed services and Russian internal security. In a report on its own website, the company notes its active participation in “Interpolitex 2015,” a Homeland Security Exhibition in Moscow sponsored by the Russian state security services. The company notes that among its “key partners and customers” are “military-industrial complex enterprises.” Cybersecurity experts also expressed deep reservations as early as 2010 that U.S. companies working at Skolkovo “may…inadvertently be harming global cybersecurity.” And indeed, Skolkovo happens to be the site of the Russian Security Service (FSB)’s security centers 16 and 18, which are in charge of information warfare for the Russian government. According to Newsweek, it is here that the Russian government runs information warfare operations against the Ukrainian government. As Vitaliy Naida, head of the Internal Security (SBU) department for the Ukrainian government told Newsweek, “It starts with the FSB’s security centres 16 and 18, operating out of Skolkovo, Russia. These centres are in charge of information warfare. They send out propaganda, false information via social media. Re-captioned images from Syria, war crimes from Serbia—they’re used to radicalize and then recruit Ukrainians.”
Rusnano
The FBI warning to U.S. tech firms also expressed concerns about the activities of Russian venture capital firms. While the letter did not specifically name Rusnano, many observers saw the warning as a reference to the firm. Rusnano officials denied the characterization. “No, I’m not a spy,” said Dmitry Akhanov, the chief executive of Rusnano in the U.S.165 But it is important to remember that Rusnano investments come with strings attached, which often require manufacturing of technologies in Russia and the transference of those technologies to Moscow. It would be impossible to control the use of dual-use technologies by the Russian military. According to a study by the Swedish Defense Research Agency, the work of Rusnano will have a hugely beneficial effect on the Russian military: “It is possible that the biggest impact of nanotechnology in the short term will be as a driver of the modernization of the Russian Armed Forces.” Indeed, it was Vladimir Putin who made this very point, saying during a 2008 speech during a meeting of the State Council that breakthroughs in nanotechnology and information technology “could lead to revolutionary changes in weapons and defence.” The Russian government sees technologies developed in the civilian sector as “dual use,” meaning that they have military applications as well. “Innovative Russia 2020,” the Russian government’s innovation policy which was approved in December 2011, stated, “Priority will be given to exchange of knowledge and technology between the defense and civil sectors, development of dual-use technology, weapons development, modernization of military material, and improving methods to fight terrorism.” A State Department cable sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made note of the fact that there were “dual use and export control concerns” related to Rusnano and Skolkovo technology ventures with Moscow. As professor Margaret Kosal puts it, “RusNano was specifically designed to complement the projects funded by the Skolkovo Foundation in that RusNano is meant to focus on later-stage projects while Skolkovo is dedicated to fostering those in the early stages.” Rusnano-funded companies “might play an important role in future military development,” Professor Kosal warns. Because it is government directed, the Russian government might use “the breakthroughs of scientists working purely in the commercial sector to further its military goals.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Podesta Was Board Member Of Firms Linked To Russian Investors

Postby smix » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:29 am

EXCLUSIVE: Podesta Was Board Member Of Firms Linked To Russian Investors
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/21/exclu ... investors/
Category: Politics
Published: March 21, 2017

Description: Rep. Louie Gohmert, an outspoken House Republican from Texas, is calling for a congressional investigation of John Podesta’s role with Rusnano, a state-run company founded by Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned. Podesta — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman and former President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff — first made contact with the Russian firm in 2011, when he joined the boards and executive committees of three related entities: Boston-based Joule Unlimited; Rotterdam-based Joule Global Holdings; Joule Global Stichting, the company’s controlling interest. All are high-tech renewable energy enterprises. Three months after Podesta’s arrival, Joule Unlimited accepted a 1 billion ruble investment from Rusnano, amounting to $35 million in U.S. currency. The firm also awarded a Joule board seat in February 2012 to Anatoly Chubais, Rusnano’s CEO, who has been depicted as a corrupt figure. Podesta has attempted to downplay his relationship with Joule and Rusnano, but it could come to haunt him. One potential legal problem for him relates to the time he joined former President Barack Obama’s White House staff in 2014 as a senior counselor and failed to reveal his 2011 Joule stock vesting agreement in his government financial disclosure form. Further, he failed to disclose 75,000 common shares of Joule stock he received, as disclosed in a WikiLeaks email. After Podesta began working at the White House, his lawyer indicated in a Jan. 6, 2014 email that he had not yet finished the legal work on the private transfer of the stock to a family-owned entity called Leonido Holdings, LLC. Gohmert’s call for an examination of Podesta’s Russian ties comes as Washington is in the grips of a set of allegations about Russian ties to President Donald Trump and his aides, as well as charges of Russian influence during the presidential election. Gohmert is troubled about the Podesta-Russia connection, telling TheDCNF, “this certainly needs to be reviewed to see if there really is something nefarious going on with these activities.” Gohmert sits on the House Judiciary Committee and is vice chair of its subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security. The Podesta-Russia connection also could rekindle a new round of questions about Clinton relationships with foreign figures — in this case, Chubais. Chubais, Russia’s deputy prime minister in the 1990s, owed his personal fortunes to Bill Clinton, who embraced him as a “reformer” in former President Boris Yeltsin’s government. Clinton’s ally instead created a new generation of tycoons who today rule Russia. Podesta’s role at Joule was largely unknown until last year when the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute (GAI) published a highly-detailed report on Russian ties to Podesta and the Clintons. An ongoing federal lawsuit, Neas Ltd, v. Rusnano, which is now before the U.S. District Court for Northern California, suggests Podesta and others at Joule may have unwittingly assisted Rusnano in a scheme hatched to move billions of weak rubles into valuable U.S. dollars by parking them as “investments” in high-tech companies in Boston and in Silicon Valley. A deposition by Ilya Ponomarev, an architect of Russia’s innovation enterprises and the former chairman of innovations subcommittee in the Russian Parliament, shed light on Rusnano’s plans in the United States. He says its primary objective “was the transformation of Rusnano from a state-owned corporation to an enterprise suitable for operations in the United States.” Ponomarev now lives in exile in the United States. Shortly after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pursued her “reset” with Russia, state-owned Russian companies began targeting American companies in Boston and Silicon Valley as investment opportunities. In May 2010, under Hillary Clinton’s leadership, the Department of State facilitated a visit by 22 American hi-tech and venture capital firms to Skolkovo, Russia’s version of Silicon Valley, according to GAI. Rusnano appears to have been a leader in the Russian investment move into the United States. Chubais created a Rusnano “investment fund” and set up a so-called “Russian Innovation Center” in tony Silicon Valley, according to the Neas lawsuit. The company opened shop in Palo Alto called DJF Venture Fund, a venture capital fund advised the Russian company. Rusnano targeted Boston where Joule’s U.S. operations were centered. In 2010, Chubais joined a Rusnano “road show” and gave a presentation at MIT. A Rusnano managing director also addressed the Harvard Faculty Club. An Oct. 5, 2011 Rusnano PowerPoint presentation by Dmitry Akhanov, Rusnano USA president, promised American businessmen “cheap money.” Rusnano dangled $4.6 billion in government contributions and $5.7 billion in state guarantees. Lucia Ziobro, the special agent in charge at the FBI’s Boston field office, issued an “extraordinary warning” to Boston-area high-tech firms in 2014 about Russian investors to startups like Joule. “The FBI believes the true motives of the Russian partners, who are often funded by their government, is to gain access to classified, sensitive and emerging technology from the companies,” she wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed. Podesta’s emails also show how in 2015 Podesta continued to help Rusnano even though he had left Joule’s boards. Podesta’s lawyer told him he did legal work for the Rosnano president to get on the Joule board. Rusnano was a special company formed by decree at the direction of Putin. A small group of Putin cronies called the “Kooperative Ozero” masterminded the takeover of big swaths of the Russian economy. The Ozero group are eight men — including Putin — who owned expensive dachas on a lake outside of St. Petersburg. They now run state-owned banks, the news media and oil and gas companies. “This group Ozero turned to occupy all the ruling positions in the country after Putin came to power,” Ponomarev told TheDCNF. He said the group represented “former KGB, organized crime and their associates.” David Satter, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former Wall Street Journal reporter who covered Russia, called Chubais as “a very shady figure.” “Chubais was in charge of the whole privatization process during the 1990’s under Yeltsin which was notoriously corrupt,” he told TheDCNF. “Billions of dollars in property changed hands under conditions that were unethical, illegal, criminal. He was in charge of that whole process,” he said. The DCNF contacted but received no replies from Joule Unlimited, Rusnano USA or Podesta.



Hillary Clinton’s Russian Ghost Stories
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/20/hilla ... t-stories/
Category: Politics
Published: October 20, 2017

Description: Russian intelligence targeted Hillary Clinton before she became secretary of state in 2009, FBI documents show. New FBI information about corruption in a Clinton-approved uranium deal with Russia raises questions about Clinton’s actions after the FBI broke up a deep-cover Russian spy ring in 2010. For a decade, the FBI ran an operation called Ghost Stories to monitor and rip apart a deep-cover Russian agent network. Ghost Stories tracked a ring Russian spies who lived between Boston and Washington, D.C., under false identities. It was one of the FBI’s most elaborate and successful counterintelligence operations in history. After the FBI arrested 10 of the spies in June, 2010, Secretary of State Clinton worked feverishly to return the Russian agents to Moscow in a hastily arranged, lopsided deal with Putin. It all happened as the uranium deal was in play: An arrangement to provide Moscow’s state Rosatom nuclear agency with 20 percent of American uranium capacity, with $145,000,000 to pour into the Clinton Family Foundation and its projects. For the Clintons, the FBI’s biggest counterintelligence bust in history couldn’t have come at a worse time. The day the FBI arrested the Russian agents, on June 28, 2010, the day before the secretary of state’s husband, Bill Clinton, was to give a speech in Moscow. A Kremlin-connected investment bank, Renaissance Capital, paid the former president $500,000 for the hour-long appearance. An unnamed Hillary Clinton spokesman told ABC News that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.” That was a lie. State Department spokesman Phil Gordon brushed off the spy ring as old news: “I don’t think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there.” Breaking the spy network, he said, was “a law enforcement action.” Gordon’s implication was that it had nothing to do with the department Clinton headed. That didn’t explain why Clinton stayed silent and worked hard to return the 10 spies back to Moscow, before any could be put on trial or turned by the FBI. Or why Clinton settled for a very poor bargain in a one-sided spy swap. But other evidence does.
FBI says Russian spies targeted Hillary Clinton in 2008
Redacted evidence that the FBI submitted to a federal court shows that Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR), the former KGB First Chief Directorate, targeted Clinton in 2008 and tried to burrow into her inner circle the next year when she was secretary of state. (Press reports often confuse Russia’s main internal security entity, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, with the SVR.) The SVR spy ring was no old “vestige” from Soviet times that was “still there.” It was a network of younger agents emplaced long after the Soviet collapse. The FBI considers it one of an unknown number of deep, expensive, thorough networks to penetrate and influence the United States government for generations. Under the code name Operation Ghost Stories, the FBI had been working the ring for a decade. Its targets had burrowed in along the Acela Corridor between Boston, New York, and Washington DC. They lived normal daily lives as Americans to attend universities, run businesses, marry, and conceive and raise children to infiltrate society and subvert government institutions. One of the SVR agents had stolen the identity of a six week-old Canadian baby who had died in 1963. That prompted the Ghost Stories code name. The ring inspired the FX network’s television series, “The Americans.” As with any secretary of state, Hillary Clinton would be a primary target under any circumstance. But she was much more. She was a known quantity: predictable, vain and ruthless, and with an insatiable desire for cash to enrich her family, friends, and political machine. Blindly ambitious to become president of the world’s only superpower and swearing to come back after losing in 2008 to Barack Obama, she was the 21st century KGB’s perfect mark. As professional as it had been as the KGB’s espionage division, the SVR invests heavily in long-term human intelligence. The SVR’s crown jewel is its global network of deep-cover agents that it calls “illegals.” Illegals live under presumed identities, without official diplomatic status that would protect them from arrest. From New York, SVR agent Lidiya Guryeva had Clinton in her sights. Guryeva had a real-life job, under the assumed name Cynthia Murphy, as vice president of a high-end tax services company in lower Manhattan. Guryeva’s prime targets, FBI evidence and later news reports show, were Clinton and no fewer than five members of her inner circle. Guryeva was far more important than a fellow agent would become the most famous member of the spy ring. The publicity would go to Anna Vasilyevna Kushchenko, who after her arrest would be become a glamourous spy princess under her married name, Anna Chapman. While the FBI’s unclassified information is vague, it is clear that Guryeva’s target was an early Obama administration member from New York who handled foreign policy after having run for high-level public office. Clinton is the only person fitting that description. Clinton became secretary of state on January 21, 2009. Two weeks later, on February 3, Guryeva sent an encrypted message to the SVR’s Moscow Center. The agent reported “several work-related meetings” with a New York-based “financier” who was “prominent in politics,” an “active fundraiser” for a major political party whose name the FBI redacted, and “a personal friend” of an Obama cabinet official whom the FBI did not publicly identify. Guryeva told her bosses that she would seek to use that personal friend to “provide” inside information on American foreign policy and the White House, and invite her to major political events. Politico first identified the financier as Alan Patricof, a venture capitalist who had been finance chairman of Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign from New York, and co-chair of her 2008 presidential campaign. Guryeva’s tax services company had Patricof’s firm as a client. After the arrest, when faced with news reports that he was one of the spy targets, Patricof did what any innocent person would do: He immediately told the press his side of the story and said he had no idea that the person he knew as Cynthia Murphy was actually a Russian spy. Living under deep cover, illegals take targets of opportunity. FBI evidence to the federal court showed that Guryeva discussed with her husband, also an SVR spy, about whether she should infiltrate the State Department. Guryeva expressed concerns that she would fail a background investigation. So she considered approaching others to gain internal access indirectly. The Guryev couple’s espionage job, the FBI said, would be “to begin targeting other people, who can be recruited as sources on behalf of Moscow Center.” Guryeva and her husband would sell their New Jersey house and follow Clinton to the nation’s capital. There, she could get a job with a Washington, DC-based company or policy shop. A tasking message dated October 18, 2009, from Moscow Center sought agents to seek out information “unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources close to State Department, Government, major think tanks.” As the FBI told the court, “the SVR requested information on the U.S. position with respect to a new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, Afghanistan, and Iran’s nuclear program.” Moscow Center specifically asked Guryeva for intelligence concerning “approaches and ideas” of what the FBI called “four names of sub-cabinet United States foreign policy officials, omitted,” meaning that all four were deputies to Secretary Clinton whose identities had been redacted. So we see the SVR target list developing: Clinton, four of her deputies, her former top fundraiser and presidential campaign co-chairman, and influential foreign policy people in Washington.
Hillary Clinton’s interests in Russia when Russians targeted her
All normal activity for the SVR or any other intelligence agency. Now, let’s see what Clinton was doing at the time. Clinton pledged at Foggy Bottom to “reset” relations with the Putin-controlled regime. She blamed the former George W. Bush administration for the bad feelings. To the Kremlin’s relief, she opposed what would become the Magnitsky Act to sanction Russian criminal oligarchs and regime figures. Weeks into her tenure as secretary, she told Russian television, “our goal is to help strengthen Russia.” She immediately used her position as America’s top diplomat to pour Russia-related money into her family foundation. One of her earliest acts as secretary of state was personally to authorize the State Department to arrange for 28 American tech CEOs and venture capitalists – 17 of them Clinton Foundation donors – to visit a Russian high-tech hub called Skolkovo. With Skolkovo, the SVR doesn’t need to steal when it can arrange legal purchases. The US military calls Skolkovo “an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage.” The Skolkovo visit, which reportedly began as a Clinton Foundation initiative, occurred in May, 2010, a month before the arrests. Four days before the FBI would break up the ring, on June 24, Obama personally met with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to coordinate billions of dollars in deals with Kremlin-affiliated businesses. Putin held power behind the scenes as prime minister, between his terms as president. At the time, Obama was pushing a bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which it argued would help stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And, subject to Clinton’s approval, the Russians were in the process of taking control of Uranium One – and taking one-fifth of America’s annual uranium output. The Government Accountability Institute’s Peter Schweizer discovered the Clinton connection to the Kremlin-connected investment bank and to the approval of US uranium to the agency that controls Russia’s nuclear warhead production. Stakeholders in Uranium One, Schweizer found, would pump $145 million into the Clinton foundation and its sponsored projects. So Hillary Clinton was mining Kremlin cash for her personal benefit while secretary of state, at the exact time Putin’s SVR spies were targeting her and penetrating her inner circle. She had every personal motivation to make the spy problem disappear and deny that she had been a target. Once the FBI broke the ring on June 28, 2010, attorney general Eric Holder said that the sudden arrests were to prevent one of the spies from fleeing the United States. FBI counterintelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi later shared a different reason: “We were becoming very concerned they were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.” There is logic to the FBI’s reasoning. Normally the FBI would want to keep its prizes to knock them out of the spy business for good, or to turn some of them, or to use them as bargaining chips. There is no counterintelligence reason to hand them over in a bad deal. The previous big spy swap with Moscow had been under President Reagan, carefully orchestrated for years, back in 1985. The US exchanged four Soviet bloc spies for five Polish prisoners and 20 alleged American spies in the Soviet bloc. There can also be diplomatic reasons to hang on to captured spies as leverage in negotiations.
Hillary wanted the spy ring issue to disappear fast
Clinton didn’t want leverage. She wanted the issue to go away. She toiled feverishly to get the 10 Ghost Stories spies back to Moscow as quickly as possible. She accepted whatever Putin would give her to pass off as a face-saving swap. She folded America’s strong hand of cards. The US had ten relatively young, highly trained Russian spies in custody with immense, fresh knowledge of SVR statecraft. A normal secretary of state would bide her time and get the best deal. The State Department coordinated quickly with the Kremlin to return the spies in a lopsided swap over a busy Fourth of July weekend, when few in Washington were paying attention. In return, the US accepted an SVR officer who had been an American double agent, an open-source researcher whom Amnesty International considered a political prisoner, a Russian military intelligence colonel who spied for the British, and an elderly ex-KGB man from Soviet times whom not even a Communist court convicted of treason. All the while, in a separate investigation that John Solomon and Sara Carter separately revealed this week, the FBI was probing Russians involved with the pending Uranium One deal on a range of corruption issues.
The bottom line
So here are the key facts: The FBI found that Russian intelligence had targeted Hillary Clinton before and during her time as secretary of state. Clinton’s spokespersons denied that this was so. Clinton opposed the Magnitsky sanctions on officials tied to Putin. After her husband received a half-million dollars in Moscow from a Kremlin-connected investment bank, Clinton moved with unusual speed to whisk the ring of 10 Russian spies out of the country and back to Moscow. She had the lopsided swap take place over a long summer weekend, before the FBI was finished with the spies, and before the spies could stand trial. While the FBI was separately investigating Russians involved with buying Uranium One, she approved the sale of American uranium to Russia’s nuclear weapons agency. Principals in the sale then plowed $145 million into her family foundation and projects. Several questions come to mind. Precisely what did the FBI know about Russia’s spy service targeting Hillary Clinton and her inner circle? Why did Clinton deny through spokespersons that she had been a Russian target? Why did she work so feverishly to get the spies out of the United States and back to Russia? Why has the FBI leadership not been more vocal in touting one of its greatest counterintelligence successes ever? And why did nobody in the FBI leadership raise this issue during the 2016 Russian election meddling controversy?



EXCLUSIVE: Podesta’s ‘Green Company’ Forced to Close Because Hillary Lost the Election
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/22/exclu ... -election/
Category: Politics
Published: October 22, 2017

Description: Joule Unlimited, a secretive green energy company that appears to have placed a big bet hiring Democratic insider John Podesta to its board, appears to have been doomed when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election. When the 2016 presidential election ended, senior company executives admitted the prospects for their renewable energy “biofuels” company evaporated. “We had a lot of prospects last year,” former Joule CEO Brian Baynes told BioFuels Digest in a rare interview in July. “But those new investor prospects walked away, particularly post-election.” Dmitry Akhanov, the president and CEO of Rusnano USA Inc., a Kremlin-owned venture capital firm nicknamed “Putin’s child,” oversaw the Russian government’s investment in Joule and sat on its board along with two other Russians with ties to the Kremlin. Akhavov agreed that Clinton’s loss doomed the company. “We lined up investors who were willing to buy the bonds, but after the elections, with some statements from the new administration regarding potential uncertainty, the future support of biofuels was stopped,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “The company was not able to do the deal and it was one of the reasons why the company was closed.” Akhanov confirmed to TheDCNF his company invested and lost 1 billion rubles, worth $35 million when Joule closed its doors. The two other board members with ties to Moscow were Ruben Vardanyan, who Putin appointed to a Russian economic modernization council, and Anatoly Chubais, a close personal friend of former President Bill Clinton and economic advisor to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Chubais allegedly made millions in the sell-off and “privatization” of Russia’s state-owned industries. The FBI was concerned about Russian government investments in American high-technology firms, as previously reported by TheDCNF. Lucia Ziobro, the special agent in charge at the FBI’s Boston field office, issued an “extraordinary warning” in 2014 about Russian investors to startups like Joule. “The FBI believes the true motives of the Russian partners, who are often funded by their government, is to gain access to classified, sensitive and emerging technology from the companies,” she wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed. Hillary’s loss of the 2016 presidential election meant Podesta would not serve in the White House and thus was not in a position to advance the company’s prospects. The Obama administration became a big “hedge fund” trying to finance and promote renewable energy technologies at any cost, Thomas Pyle, president of the libertarian Institute for Energy Research, told TheDCNF. “The whole entire eight years under Obama, the Department of Energy was basically a hedge fund — and a bad one — for renewable energy for wind, solar and biofuels,” he said. Critics of former President Barack Obama’s renewable energy agenda believe it’s likely a President Hillary Clinton would have doubled down on Obama’s renewable energy initiatives. “If Hillary Clinton had won, then we would have four to eight more years of the Obama trajectory, which means everything that calls itself ‘progressive energy policy’ would have just ramped up,” Marlo Lewis Jr., a senior fellow at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, told TheDCNF. “So the market would have been even more tilted in favor of so-called ‘green energy companies. And President Trump has basically changed the direction,” he said. Since entering office, Trump reversed many of Obama’s regulatory mandates that hurt fossil fuels and assisted renewable energy in the marketplace. He also ended the U.S. participation in the Paris agreement on climate change, which was designed to cut carbon emissions. Trump signed a sweeping executive order in late March at the Environmental Protection Agency that rescinded six of Obama’s climate change executive orders. “The order represents a clear difference between how Trump and former President Barack Obama view the role the United States plays in combating climate change,” CNN reported at the time. Podesta was one of Joule’s biggest political assets. He had served as President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff and co-founded Podesta Associates, a D.C. lobbying shop with his brother Tony. John Podesta also founded the Center for American Progress, a Washington liberal advocacy group. Podesta served on Joule’s board from December 2010 to December 2013. In January 2014, he joined the Obama White House, where he served as “counselor” to President Obama. After leaving the White House, he joined Hillary Clinton to help run her presidential campaign as its national chairman. From the very beginning, Joule executives knew Podesta’s value. Bill Sims, one of Joule’s CEOs, was excited about landing Podesta and talked about “leveraging his insights” when he announced the board appointment. “We look forward to leveraging his insights as we progress toward international deployment,” he declared. As one of the biggest power players in Washington, Podesta could open doors for Joule. Obama’s first secretary of energy, Steven Chu, visited the company in November 2011, according to WikiLeaks. Podesta told Chu’s chief of staff, Brandon Hurlbut, he was delighted with the upcoming Chu visit. “The gang is excited. I think he’ll be impressed,” he wrote in a Nov. 28, 2011, email released by WikiLeaks. “I felt fortunate to be able to engage with a leading expert like John to get feedback, as I did with many other experts,” Hurlbut told McClatchy News for a 2016 article titled, “WikiLeaks emails show how Clinton’s campaign chief once opened doors for energy firm.” And even as he worked at the White House, Podesta apparently continued to provide advice to Joule. “As promised, I am providing to you a corporate slide presentation, a short summary of the company and videos of the Hobbs plant. Please let me know if I should change any of it, or feel free to edit as you see fit. I look forward to learning about next steps and to your guidance for the company about how best to forge partnerships globally,” Noubar Afeyan, the founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, the main venture capital firm that underwrote Joule Unlimited, told Podesta in an Aug. 31, 2015, email. On Oct. 12, 2015, Afeyan followed up, emailing Podesta, “Dear John, I wanted to get this back on your radar screen hoping you can make some intros in the far east as we had previously discussed. Please let me know how I can follow up. Regards, Noubar.” Podesta did not respond to a request for comment. The company’s rise as well as its demise have been shrouded in secrecy. It claimed to have a patent for genetically engineered microbes that could harness the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol, diesel fuel or jet fuel. “Many people were very skeptical that they could pull off what they were trying to pull off,” Robert Rapier, who runs a website called R-Squared Energy, told The Boston Globe. “There are other companies out there that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and come up with the same results,” John Beneman, an expert on algae-based biofuels and CEO of MicroBio Engineering, told the Globe. “Either they are walking dead, or ghosts, or resting in peace.” Jim Lane, a reporter for Biofuels Daily who favors renewable energy technologies, noted the company had a penchant for secrecy including when it closed its doors. “The news from Joule closes out an extraordinary period of silence for a company that we once described as The Sultans of Stealth for their secretive approach to development,” he wrote. The firm went through four CEOs in less than two years, according to Biofuels Digest. Further adding to its mystery, the company raised 1 billion Rubles or $35 million from Rusano, the Kremlin-owned nanotechnology company that set up a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. Two other Russians with Kremlin ties sat on Joule’s board along with Podesta. Flagship Pioneering, the main venture capital firm that underwrote Joule Unlimited, did not respond to numerous information requests from TheDCNF.



Mueller Adds Podesta Group To Russia Probe
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/23/muell ... sia-probe/
Category: Politics
Published: October 23, 2017

Description: Tony Podesta and his Democratic lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, are now being investigated as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, three sources with knowledge told NBC News. Mueller’s investigators began looking into the Podesta Group after they discovered that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked with the firm on a pro-Ukrainian lobbying effort. What began as a cursory examination of the firm, designed to gauge Manafort’s level of involvement in the lobbying campaign, has become a criminal investigation into possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by the Podesta Group, sources told NBC News. Manafort reportedly worked along side the Podesta Group for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a nonprofit dedicated to increasing pro-Ukrainian sentiment in the west. Investigators are currently examining whether the lobbying firm violated FARA by failing to disclose their work for a foreign government. Both Manafort and the Podesta Group did not disclose their relationship with the ECMU until media reports exposed the arrangement. The ECMU is reportedly backed by the party of Regions, a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party funded by oligarchs who paid Manafort’s firm millions. The Podesta Group, chaired by Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta, was one of six lobbying firms working on the ECMU campaign, which ran from 2012 to 2014 and was designed to help secure Ukrainian entry into the EU. Mueller’s team sent subpoenas to all six firms in August seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked directly on the ECMU campaign. In a statement to NBC, a spokesman for the Podesta Group said the firm “is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel’s office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times — and we did so in this case.” Manafort, whose home FBI agents raided in July, has reportedly emerged as the central subject in the investigation, which is now focused on his finances, work for foreign governments and possible tax compliance issues. Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after the Associated Press revealed his work for the Party of Regions, which reportedly included seeking favorable press coverage in prominent U.S. media outlets.



Growing Evidence Of A Politically Tainted Clinton Investigation
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/14/fbi-h ... mes-comey/
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2017

Description: A series of new revelations about the FBI under James Comey has provided more evidence that partisan agents may have abused their agency positions for political purposes during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and 2016 presidential campaign. Top FBI agent Peter Strzok, the public now knows, was removed from the Mueller investigation after a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (IG) investigation revealed damning text messages between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The messages show Strzok and Page praising Clinton, discussing whether Strzok could use his position to protect the country from Donald Trump — whom they described as “that menace” — and referring to an unnamed “insurance policy” in case Trump beat Clinton. “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40” Strzok said of Trump in one message to Page. “Andy” referred to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who has close ties to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton ally. Strzok is reported to be the agent who officially signed into existence the Russia investigation that now plagues the Trump campaign, as well as the agent who interviewed Mike Flynn, who now faces charges for lying to the FBI. During the Clinton investigation, Strzok led the interviews of top Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — neither of whom faced consequences for making false statements in those interviews. Comey drafted a letter exonerating Clinton months before the investigation ended, and months before the FBI ever interviewed Clinton and her aides. Comey’s draft originally described Clinton’s handling of the server as “grossly negligent” — a term that carries legal significance but was later charged to “extremely careless.” Strzok, who later conducted those interviews, is reportedly the agent who watered down the investigation’s conclusion months before it was finished. Strzok, Boston Herald columnist Adriana Cohen notes, “was also the agent who interviewed Hillary Clinton last summer without recording it or putting her under oath, thereby shielding her from a process prosecution or perjury trap — not afforded to others — namely Trump associates, including Michael Flynn, who is now facing perjury charges.” In other words: the heart of the Clinton investigation ran through an FBI agent, Strzok, who was rooting for her to beat both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who has been vocally supportive of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said last week that the Strzok-Page scandal “casts a cloud over much of the Clinton investigation, in my opinion, the e-mail investigation.” Swecker noted that Strzok “was a very key agent in so many different things” and said the scandal showed “disarray that is left over from the Comey era.” Swecker made that assessment before the contents of the texts (which exhibited more political bias than many onlookers had expected) became public. The Wall Street Journal ran a scathing editorial on Thursday that called for more congressional oversight of the Russia investigation following the texts’ publication. “The man who should be most disturbed by all this is Mr. Mueller, who wants his evidence and conclusions to be credible with the public,” the editorial concluded. “Evidence is building instead that some officials at the FBI—who have worked for him—may have interfered in an American presidential election.” Documents released by Judicial Watch raise further questions about the neutrality of senior FBI agents during the Clinton investigation. The documents reveal that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was troubled by a report in True Pundit — an anonymously written, pro-Trump website — that cited an FBI source accusing McCabe and other FBI officials of soft-pedaling the Clinton investigation because they were rooting for her to win. The emails show McCabe viewed the source’s account — which described the FBI leadership as politically biased actors in favor of Hillary Clinton — as knowledgeable of the FBI’s inner workings. McCabe’s wife sent him the article in an email, which he then forwarded to Comey. “FYI. Heavyweight source,” McCabe wrote to Comey. “McCabe was one of the few people who backed Comey’s decision not to refer Hillary Clinton to the Justice Department for indictment,” the source told True Pundit. “McCabe and Comey are both lawyers. They aren’t street agents. They’re more political. We wanted her (Clinton) indicted. They did not.” That account, which McCabe believed must have come from a “heavyweight source,” described the deputy director as one of the few FBI insiders to support Comey’s leniency towards Clinton, a decision the source claimed was influenced by his wife’s political campaign. Comey disagreed, saying it must have been a lower-level staffer who heard “rumors.” Congressional Democrats sent a letter on Monday demanding the agency release any documents of “animus” against Clinton, specifically citing the leak to True Pundit as evidence of an anti-Clinton bias within the FBI. “The letter suggests that True Pundit — an anonymously written pro-Trump website — received information from FBI agents frustrated with the agency’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server,” Politico reported. McCabe, who became acting FBI director after Trump fired Comey, conceded in May that “there were folks within our agency that were frustrated with the outcome of the Hillary Clinton case and some of those folks were very vocal about those concerns.” That statement followed reports that some rank-and-file FBI agents were upset with the way the agency’s leadership, including Strzok and McCabe, had handled the Clinton investigation. FBI agents previously told The Daily Caller that Comey “stood in the way” of the Clinton investigation’s advancement. Comey himself had hinted at concerns that the Department of Justice was interfering with the Clinton investigation. He testified in June that Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, pressured him to downplay the Clinton email server investigation and only refer to it as a “matter.” Lynch’s spin, Comey said, matched the Clinton campaign’s “inaccurate” talking points on the subject. “I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general [Lynch] was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate,” Comey said. Comey also said that he was concerned about Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton. When asked by Texas Sen. John Cornyn if it would be fair to say Lynch had a “conflict of interest” in the Clinton email investigation, Comey answered in the affirmative: “That’s fair.” After the secret tarmac meeting became public, Lynch said she would accept the FBI’s recommendation in the investigation. However, she never recused herself from the probe altogether, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions did in the Russia investigation. Another DOJ official, Peter Kadzik, secretly helped the Clinton campaign navigate the email investigation. Kadzik tipped off Podesta to several new developments in the Clinton investigation, telling him “heads up.” Emails show Podesta circulated the warning to other campaign officials with the message: “Additional chances for mischief.” Kadzik was only exposed when WikiLeaks published Podesta’s emails in October 2016.



FBI Informant: US Lobbyists Paid By Russia To Influence Clinton On Uranium One
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2018/02/08/fbi-i ... anium-one/
Category: Politics
Published: February 8, 2018

Description: According to an FBI informant, Russians connected to the Uranium One sale hired U.S. lobbyists to influence then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. As The Hill reports, Wednesday, Douglas Campbell told congressional investigators that Russian nuclear officials bought the services of APCO Worldwide for an annual price tag of $3 million. The lobbying firm was expected to smooth over relations between Russia and the U.S. and seek to assist the charitable activities of former President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Foundation. At the same time, Russian mining company Rosatom was seeking approval from a U.S. government committee to purchase Uranium One, a company that owned the rights to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium mining capacity at the time. The State Department, led by Hillary Clinton, had a seat on the committee, which eventually approved the sale. “The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months,” Campbell wrote. “APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.” In a response to The Hill, APCO has denied any connection between their lobbying efforts on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and Russia, and said different divisions of the company worked on the two projects. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told The Hill that the the story is “designed to distract” attention from the Mueller investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, Campbell’s testimony was heard by staff from the Senate Judiciary, House Intelligence and House Oversight and Government Reform committees.
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FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

Postby smix » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:48 pm

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... nistration
Category: Politics
Published: October 17, 2017

Description: Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews. Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show. They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill. The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later. Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions. The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply. When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened ... on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.” In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program. “The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials. The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015. That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal. But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered. Spokesmen for Holder and Clinton did not return calls seeking comment. The Justice Department also didn’t comment. Mikerin was a director of Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, where he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the United States under the Megatons to Megwatts program and its commercial uranium sales to other countries. In 2010, Mikerin was dispatched to the U.S. on a work visa approved by the Obama administration to open Rosatom’s new American arm called Tenam. Between 2009 and 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,” a November 2014 indictment stated. His illegal conduct was captured with the help of a confidential witness, an American businessman, who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction and with the permission of the FBI. The first kickback payment recorded by the FBI through its informant was dated Nov. 27, 2009, the records show. In evidentiary affidavits signed in 2014 and 2015, an Energy Department agent assigned to assist the FBI in the case testified that Mikerin supervised a “racketeering scheme” that involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks that were both directed by and provided benefit to more senior officials back in Russia. “As part of the scheme, Mikerin, with the consent of higher level officials at TENEX and Rosatom (both Russian state-owned entities) would offer no-bid contracts to US businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of money payments made to some offshore banks accounts,” Agent David Garden testified. “Mikerin apparently then shared the proceeds with other co-conspirators associated with TENEX in Russia and elsewhere,” the agent added. The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show. Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI. The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired earlier this year. Its many twist and turns aside, the FBI nuclear industry case proved a gold mine, in part because it uncovered a new Russian money laundering apparatus that routed bribe and kickback payments through financial instruments in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. A Russian financier in New Jersey was among those arrested for the money laundering, court records show. The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show. One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing. Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap. But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged. The only public statement occurred an entire year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals. By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval. The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill. The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered. On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million. Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged. “I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview. Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark. Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told The Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal. “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,” he said. “The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking.”



Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... an-nuclear
Category: Politics
Published: October 19, 2017

Description: As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show. Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show. “In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team. The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills. The approval question, however, sat inside State for nearly two weeks without an answer, prompting Desai to make multiple pleas for a decision. “Dear Jake, we urgently need feedback on this. Thanks, Ami,” the former president’s aide wrote in early June. Sullivan finally responded on June 7, 2010, asking a fellow State official “What’s the deal w this?” The documents don’t indicate what decision the State Department finally made. But current and former aides to both Clintons told The Hill on Thursday the request to meet the various Russians came from other people, and the ex-president’s aides and State decided in the end not to hold any of the meetings with the Russians on the list. Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead. “Requests of this type were run by the State Department as a matter of course. This was yet another one of those instances. Ultimately, President Clinton did not meet with these people,” Angel Urena, the official spokesperson for the former president, told The Hill. Aides to the ex-president, Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation said Bill Clinton did not have any conversations about Rosatom or the Uranium One deal while in Russia, and that no one connected to the deal was involved in the trip. A spokesman for Secretary Clinton said Thursday the continued focus on the Uranium One deal smacked of partisan politics aimed at benefiting Donald Trump. “At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits. Its roots are with a project shepherded by Steve Bannon, which should tell you all you need to know,” said Nick Merrill. “This latest iteration is simply more of the right doing Trump’s bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security.” Current and former Clinton aides told The Hill that the list of proposed business executives the former president planned to meet raised some sensitivities after Bill Clinton’s speaker bureau got the invite for the lucrative speech. Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after. In addition, two of the Russians on the former president’s list had pending business that would be intersecting with State. The first was Dvorkovich, who was a chief deputy to Medvedev and one of the Russian nuclear power industry’s cheerleaders. He also sat on the supervisory board of Rosatom, the state owned atomic energy company that was in the midst of buying a Canadian uranium company called Uranium One The deal required approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an intergovernmental panel represented by 14 departments and offices that approve transactions and investments by foreign companies for national security purposes. Approval meant that control of 20 percent of U.S. uranium production would be shifting to the Russian-owned Rosatom’s control. CFIUS approved the transaction in October 2010, saying there was no national security concerns. Hillary Clinton has said she did not intervene in the matter and instead delegated the decision to a lower official, who said he got no pressure from the secretary on any CFIUS matters. Any one of the participating offices and departments could have sought to block the deal by requesting intervention by the president. The Hill reported earlier this week that the FBI had uncovered evidence that Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a massive bribery scheme before CFIUS approved the deal, raising new questions in Congress and drawing attention from President Trump. Uranium “is the real Russia story,” he told reporters, accusing news media of ignoring the new developments reported in The Hill. The second person on the list that caught attention was Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg. Two days after Hillary Clinton’s visit to Russia, Vekselberg was named by Medvedev to oversee a new technology investment project called Skolkovo, designed to be Russia’s new Silicon Valley, according to media reports. Hillary Clinton had directly discussed the Skolkovo project with Medvedev, and her State Department was whipping up support for it among U.S. companies, creating the potential appearance for a conflict. She even attended a major event with the Russians in 2010 to promote the project. “We want to help because we think that it’s in everyone’s interest do so,” she was quoted as saying at the time. A third issue that emerged was Renaissance Capital, a Russian bank that actually paid the $500,000 speaking fee to the former president for his 90-minute June 29, 2010, speech, one of the largest one-day fees Bill Clinton ever earned. Renaissance Capital had ties with the Kremlin and was talking up the Uranium One purchase in 2010, giving it an encouraging investment rating in Russia right at the time the U.S. was considering approval of the uranium sale, according to reports in The New York Times in 2015. The Hill was alerted to Bill Clinton’s attempted meeting with Dvorkovich from a nonpolitical source involved in the FBI investigation into Russian nuclear corruption. The Hill then scoured through thousands of pages of documents released under Freedom of Information Act requests over the past four years and located the Bill Clinton emails in a batch delivered to the conservative group Citizens United. The head of that group, David Bossie, said Thursday the documents forced into the public by federal lawsuits continue to shed light on new questions arising from Hillary Clinton’s time at State, and that Citizens United still gets documents released almost every month. “Citizens United continues to unearth important information about the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation through our ongoing investigations and litigation,” he said. A source familiar with that FBI investigation says an undercover informant that Congress is currently trying to interview possesses new information about what Russian nuclear officials were doing to try to win approval of the Uranium One deal. The importance of CFIUS’s approval was highlighted in Rosatom’s annual 2010 report that listed Dvorkovich as one of its supervisor board directors. The report crowed the U.S. approval was one of its most “striking events” of the year and allowed Russia to begin “uranium mining in the United States.” The head of Rosatom boasted in the report that the Uranium One deal was part of a larger Putin strategy to strengthen “Russia’s prestige as a leader of the world nuclear industry.” Inside the Clintons' inner circle, there also was a debate in 2010. A close associate of Bill Clinton who was directly involved in the Moscow trip and spoke on condition of anonymity, described to The Hill the circumstances surrounding how Bill Clinton landed a $500,000 speaking gig in Russia and then came up with the list of Russians he wanted to meet. The friend said Hillary Clinton had just returned in late March 2010 from an official trip to Moscow where she met with both Putin and Medvedev. The president’s speaker’s bureau had just received an offer from Renaissance Capital to pay the former president $500,000 for a single speech in Russia. Documents show Bill Clinton’s personal lawyer on April 5, 2010, sent a conflict of interest review to the State Department asking for permission to give the speech in late June, and it was approved two days later. The Clinton friend said the former president’s office then began assembling a list of requests to meet with Russian business and government executives whom he could meet on the trip. One of the goals of the trip was to try to help a Clinton family relative “grow investments in their business with Russian oligarchs and other businesses,” the friend told The Hill. “It was one of the untold stories of the Russia trip. People have focused on Uranium One and the speaking fees, but opening up a business spigot for the family business was one only us insiders knew about,” the friend said. Conservative author Peter Schweizer, whose 2015 collaboration with The New York Times first raised questions about the Uranium One deal and Clinton donations, said Thursday the new emails were “stunning they add a level of granularity we didn’t have before." “We knew of some sort of transactions in which the Clintons received funds and Russia received approvals, and the question has always been how and if those two events are connected,” he said. “I think this provides further evidence the two may be connected.”



Senate Judiciary opens probe into Obama-era Russian nuclear bribery case
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... ar-bribery
Category: Politics
Published: October 17, 2017

Description: The Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into a Russian nuclear bribery case, demanding several federal agencies disclose whether they knew the FBI had uncovered the corruption before the Obama administration in 2010 approved a controversial uranium deal with Moscow. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, on Wednesday raised the issue in public during questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an oversight hearing. The senator cited a series of The Hill stories that showed the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear officials were involved in a racketeering scheme as early as 2009, well before the uranium deal was approved. "According to government documents and recent news reports, the Justice Department had an ongoing criminal investigation for bribery, extortion, money laundering, into officials for a Russian company making purchase of Uranium One," Grassley said. "That purchase was approved during previous administration and resulted in Russians owning 20 percent of America's uranium mining capacity. "What are you doing to find out how Russian takeover of American uranium was allowed to occur despite criminal conduct by Russian company that the Obama administration approved to make the purchase?" he asked Sessions. Sessions responded: "I would offer that some people have gone to jail in that transaction already, but the article talks about other issues. Without confirming or denying existence of any particular investigation, I would say I hear your concerns and they will be reviewed." Senate Judiciary aides said the committee had sent requests for information to 10 federal agencies involved in the Russian uranium approvals. The committee is discussing other bipartisan requests to make in the coming days, and Grassley also is expected to seek access to potential witnesses soon, escalating from the information requests he made a few years back, according to people familiar with the investigation. The senator also specifically conveyed in recent letters he no longer accepts the Obama administration's assurances from 2015 that there was no basis to block the Uranium One deal. "I am not convinced by these assurances," Grassley wrote the Homeland Security Department last week. "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." Though Wednesday's hearing was scheduled for other purposes, aides said they expected Grassley to ask Sessions questions about a story published in The Hill on Tuesday that disclosed the FBI had uncovered evidence showing Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a racketeering scheme involving bribes, kickbacks and money laundering designed to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin's atomic energy business on U.S. soil. The evidence was first gathered in 2009 and 2010, but Department of Justice officials waited until 2014 to bring any charges. In between that time, President Obama's multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) gave approval to Russia's Rosatom to buy a Canadian mining company called Uranium One that controlled 20 percent of America's uranium deposits. The committee's members at the time included former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, collected large speech fees and millions in charitable donations from Russia and other entities interested in the outcome of the decision. Grassley dispatched letters last week to all the federal agencies whose executives served on the CFIUS when the decision was made, demanding to know whether they were aware of the FBI case before they voted. He also questioned whether the documented corruption that was uncovered posed a national security threat that should have voided approval of the uranium deal. "It has recently come to the Committee’s attention that employees of Rosatom were involved in a criminal enterprise involving a conspiracy to commit extortion and money laundering during the time of the CFIUS transaction," Grassley wrote in one such letter addressed to Sessions. "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’ decision to approve the transaction," the chairman added. Grassley has been one of the few congressional leaders to have consistently raised questions about the uranium deal, and in 2015 agencies told his committee they had no national security reasons to reject the Moscow approval. Those representations, however, made no mention of the FBI probe or the national security issues uncovered by agents, including the fact that Russian officials had compromised an American trucking firm that transported uranium. Grassley's letters demanded answers from the agencies by no later than Oct. 26.



Sessions says Justice to review Russian uranium deal
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... anium-deal
Category: Politics
Published: October 18, 2017

Description: Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed Wednesday that the Justice Department will review revelations in a series of stories published by The Hill showing the Obama administration approved a uranium deal with Russia despite evidence gathered by the FBI showing that Russian nuclear officials were involved in bribery, kickbacks and other corruption on U.S. soil. “We will hear your concerns — the Department of Justice will take such actions as is appropriate,” Sessions told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who cited The Hill's stories. “Without confirming or denying the existence of an investigation, I would say I hear your concerns and they will be reviewed,” Sessions added. Grassley said one of his concerns was that the FBI probe of Russian nuclear corruption, which began in 2009 and ended in 2015, was run by then Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein now serves as the deputy attorney general in the Trump administration. Sessions defended Rosenstein in response to a question from Grassley. Rosenstein “directly supervised the criminal case when he was U.S. attorney in Maryland. I don't think it would be proper for him to supervise a review of his own conduct, do you?” Grassley asked. “It would be his decision. He's a man of integrity,” Sessions responded.



Senate seeks to interview FBI informant in Russian nuclear bribery case
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... ar-bribery
Category: Politics
Published: October 18, 2017

Description: The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday sought permission to interview an FBI informant who helped agents uncover a major corruption scheme by Russian nuclear officials seeking to aggressively expand their American business during the Obama administration.
The undercover witness, who has not been publicly identified, spent nearly five years helping agents build a case that resulted in one of Russia's top nuclear industry officials in the United States, a Russian financier and an American trucking executive to plead guilty in 2015 to charges related to a racketeering scheme that prosecutors said involved bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering. The informant possesses information about the extent of Russian efforts to curry favor inside the United States that he has been prevented from disclosing to the courts and Congress because he signed an FBI nondisclosure agreement, his lawyer Victoria Toensing told The Hill on Tuesday. The undercover witness was threatened by Justice Department officials when he tried to disclose some of the information in a lawsuit during last year's presidential race, forcing him to withdraw his legal action, the lawyer alleged. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter Wednesday night to Toensing seeking to interview her client, saying he was troubled that the Obama administration in 2010 approved the Uranium One deal giving Moscow control over 20 percent of America's uranium supply when the FBI knew of corruption inside the Russian nuclear industry. "It appears that your client possesses unique information about the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction and how the Justice Department handled the criminal investigation into the Russian criminal conspiracy," Grassley wrote. "Such information is critical to the Committee’s oversight of the Justice Department." The senator specifically cited an earlier story from The Hill in his letter, saying among the issues he hoped to explore with the undercover witness was whether any political pressure was exerted during the probe. While the FBI developed evidence as early as 2009 that an official with Russia's state-controlled Tenex nuclear company had engaged in the kickback scheme, Justice officials did not bring charges until 2014. During the five year gap, the Obama administration approved the controversial uranium deal and made other decisions favorable to Russia's ambitions to expand its nuclear business inside the United States.



FBI informant blocked from telling Congress about Russia nuclear corruption case, lawyer says
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... ia-nuclear
Category: Politics
Published: October 18, 2017

Description: An American businessman who worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry's efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions, his lawyer tells The Hill. Attorney Victoria Toensing, a former Reagan Justice Department official and former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday she is working with members of Congress to see if they can get the Trump Justice Department or the FBI to free her client to talk to lawmakers. “All of the information about this corruption has not come out,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “And so my client, the same part of my client that made him go into the FBI in the first place, says, 'This is wrong. What should I do about it?'” Toensing said she also possesses memos that recount how the Justice Department last year threatened her client when he attempted to file a lawsuit that could have drawn attention to the Russian corruption during the 2016 presidential race as well as helped him recover some of the money Russians stole from him through kickbacks during the FBI probe. The undercover client witnessed “a lot of bribery going on around the U.S.” but was asked by the FBI to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prevents him from revealing what he knows to Congress, Toensing explained. When he tried to bring some of the allegations to light in the lawsuit last year, “the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom. They said they would bring a criminal case against him for violating an NDA,” she added. Emails obtained by The Hill show that a civil attorney working with the former undercover witness described the pressure the Justice Department exerted to keep the client from disclosing to a federal court what he knew last summer. “The government was taking a very harsh position that threatened both your reputation and liberty,” the civil lawyer wrote in one email. In another, she added, “As you will recall the gov’t made serious threats sufficient to cause you to withdraw your civil complaint." Justice Department and FBI officials did not return calls seeking comment. Federal court records from 2014 and 2015 show that a wide-ranging FBI probe into Russian nuclear industry corruption was facilitated by an unnamed American consultant who worked for the Moscow-based nuclear energy giant Rosatom's Tenex subsidiary on a multiyear campaign to grow Moscow's uranium business inside the United States. Those efforts included winning U.S. approval of Rosatom's controversial purchase of Canada-based Uranium One's American uranium assets, securing new approvals to sell new commercial uranium to the federally backed United States Enrichment Corporation and winning billions in new U.S. utility contracts for Russian nuclear fuel. The court records alternatively refer to the FBI informant as "confidential source 1," the "contractor" and "Victim 1" without ever naming him. The records make clear he came to the FBI immediately after Russian officials asked him to engage in illegal activity in 2009. Toensing said the confidential witness identified in those court documents is her client. Working as a confidential witness, the businessman made kickback payments to the Russians with the approval of his FBI handlers and gathered other evidence, the records show. Sources told The Hill the informant's work was crucial to the government's ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U.S. soil that involved bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion. In the end, the main Russian executive sent to the U.S. to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin's nuclear business, an executive of an American trucking firm and a Russian financier from New Jersey pled guilty to various crimes in a case that started in 2009 and ended in late 2015. Toensing added her client has had contact from multiple congressional committees seeking information about what he witnessed inside the Russian nuclear industry and has been unable to provide that information because of the NDA. “He can’t disclose anything that he came upon in the course of his work,” she said. The information the client possesses includes specific allegations that Russian executives made to him about how they facilitated the Obama administration's 2010 approval of the Uranium One deal and sent millions of dollars in Russian nuclear funds to the U.S. to an entity assisting Bill Clinton's foundation. At the time, Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of State on the government panel that approved the deal, the lawyer said. It has been previously reported that Bill Clinton accepted $500,000 in Russian speaking fees in 2010 and collected millions more in donations for his foundation from parties with a stake in the Uranium One deal, transactions that both the Clintons and the Obama administration denied had any influence on the approval. Federal law requires officials such as then-Secretary Clinton to avoid both conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts when it comes to the business and financial interests of a spouse. Clinton signed a special agreement when she became secretary to disclose her husband's charitable donations to the State Department to avoid any such conflicts. Both Clintons have repeatedly insisted no donations raised by the foundation ever influenced her decisions. A spokesman and a lawyer for the Clintons did not return calls seeking comment. Toensing said her client can also testify that FBI agents made comments to him suggesting political pressure was exerted during the Justice Department probe of the Russia corruption case and that there was specific evidence that could have scuttled approval of the Uranium One deal if it became public. “There was corruption going on and it was never brought forward. And in fact, the sale of the uranium went on despite the government knowing about all of this corruption. So he's coming forward. He wants the right thing to be done, but he cannot do it unless he is released from the NDA,” she added.



Trump: Obama-era uranium deal is 'real Russia story'
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... ssia-story
Category: Politics
Published: October 19, 2017

Description: President Trump said Thursday that an Obama-era uranium deal with Moscow is "the real Russia story," and again dismissed allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia as "a hoax." Sitting beside Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló at the White House, Trump said that the media should be focusing on the uranium deal, as opposed to ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination between his campaign and Moscow. "That's your story. That's your real Russia story. The real story is uranium," Trump told reporters. "Not a story where they talk about collusion and there was none. It was a hoax. Your real Russia story is uranium and how they got all of that uranium — the vast percentage of what we have. That, to me, is one of the big stories of the decade. Not just now. The decade." The comments came hours after Trump tweeted Thursday morning that the so-called "Fake Media" did not want to cover news about the 2010 uranium sale, which gave Moscow control of more than 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply. "The problem is mainstream media does not want to cover that story because that affects people they protect," Trump claimed. "So they don’t like covering that story. But the big story is uranium and how Russia got 20 percent of our uranium and, frankly, it’s a disgrace and it’s a disgrace that the fake news won’t cover. It’s so sad.” The Hill reported Wednesday that the FBI uncovered evidence that Russian nuclear officials were involved in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering before the Obama administration approved the deal. It wasn't the first time Trump has mentioned the uranium sale, however. He frequently referenced the deal during his presidential campaign as an attack on his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of State when the sale took place. Trump has also pointed to Russian donations made to the Clinton Global Initiative to suggest that Clinton approved the deal in exchange for contributions. The State Department had a presence on the panel that approved the deal, though a spokesman for Clinton said the former top diplomat was not involved in the review process. The question of whether members of Trump's campaign coordinated with Russia to help disrupt and influence the 2016 presidential election is being scrutinized by a special counsel and two congressional committees. Trump has repeatedly denied that he or anyone else on his campaign had any improper contact with Russian operatives, and has called the investigations a "witch hunt."



FBI watched, then acted as Russian spy moved closer to Hillary Clinton
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... to-hillary
Category: Politics
Published: October 22, 2017

Description: As Hillary Clinton was beginning her job as President Obama’s chief diplomat, federal agents observed as multiple arms of Vladimir Putin’s machine unleashed an influence campaign designed to win access to the new secretary of State, her husband Bill Clinton and members of their inner circle, according to interviews and once-sealed FBI records. Some of the activities FBI agents gathered evidence about in 2009 and 2010 were covert and illegal. A female Russian spy posing as an American accountant, for instance, used a false identity to burrow her way into the employ of a major Democratic donor in hopes of gaining intelligence on Hillary Clinton’s department, records show. The spy was arrested and deported as she moved closer to getting inside State, agents said. Other activities were perfectly legal and sitting in plain view, such as when a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company hired a Washington firm to lobby the Obama administration. At the time it was hired, the firm was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in pro bono support to Bill Clinton’s global charitable initiative, and it legally helped the Russian company secure federal decisions that led to billions in new U.S. commercial nuclear business, records show. Agents were surprised by the timing and size of a $500,000 check that a Kremlin-linked bank provided Bill Clinton with for a single speech in the summer of 2010. The payday came just weeks after Hillary Clinton helped arrange for American executives to travel to Moscow to support Putin’s efforts to build his own country’s version of Silicon Valley, agents said. There is no evidence in any of the public records that the FBI believed that the Clintons or anyone close to them did anything illegal. But there’s definitive evidence the Russians were seeking their influence with a specific eye on the State Department. “There is not one shred of doubt from the evidence that we had that the Russians had set their sights on Hillary Clinton’s circle, because she was the quarterback of the Obama-Russian reset strategy and the assumed successor to Obama as president,” said a source familiar with the FBI’s evidence at the time, speaking only on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. That source pointed to an October 2009 communication intercepted by the FBI in which Russian handlers instructed two of their spies specifically to gather nonpublic information on the State Department. “Send more info on current international affairs vital for R., highlight US approach,” part of the message to the spies read, using the country’s first initial to refer to Russia. “… Try to single out tidbits unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources closer to State department, government, major think tanks.” The Clintons, by that time, had set up several new vehicles that included a multimillion-dollar speech making business, the family foundation and a global charitable initiative, all of which proved attractive to the Russians as Hillary Clinton took over State. “In the end, some of this just comes down to what it always does in Washington: donations, lobbying, contracts and influence — even for Russia,” said Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence.
The sleeper ring
Figliuzzi supervised the post-arrest declassification and release of records from a 10-year operation that unmasked a major Russian spy ring in 2010. It was one of the most important U.S. counterintelligence victories against Russia in history, and famous for nabbing the glamorous spy-turned-model Anna Chapman. While Chapman dominated the headlines surrounding that spy ring, another Russian woman posing as a mundane New Jersey accountant named Cynthia Murphy was closing in on accessing Secretary Clinton’s department, according to records and interviews. For most of the 10 years, the ring of Russian spies that included Chapman and Murphy acted as sleepers, spending a “great deal of time collecting information and passing it on” to their handlers inside Russia’s SVR spy agency, FBI records state. Murphy, living with her husband and kids in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, reported a major breakthrough in February 2009 in an electronic message sent to her handlers: she had scored access to a major Democrat, FBI records state. “Murphy had several work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account,” one FBI record from the case read. “The message accurately described the financier as ‘prominent in politics,’ ‘an active fund-raiser’ for [a major political party, name omitted] and a ‘personal friend’ of [a current Cabinet official, name redacted].” Multiple current and former officials confirmed to The Hill that the Cabinet officer was Hillary Clinton, the fundraiser was New York financier Alan Patricof and the political party was the Democratic National Committee. None of the Americans were ever suspected of illegalities, but the episode made clear the Russian spies were stepping up their operations against the new administration after years of working in a “sleeper” capacity, officials said. Patricof did not return a call to his office Friday seeking comment. But in 2010 he told The Washington Post after the spy case broke he believed he had been a victim of the spy ring, saying Murphy had worked for him but that he only talked accounting with her, not government or politics. “It’s just staggering,” he told the Post about the idea of being targeted by Russia. “It’s off the charts.” An email released by the State Department last year under FOIA to the conservative group Citizens United shows Patricof alerted State Department officials to the impending breaking news that he had been targeted by the Russian spy ring. "He (Patricof) wanted to give HRC a heads up about the Russia spy article before it broke," State Department official Dennis Cheng wrote Huma Abedin, a longtime top aide to Hillary Clinton. "...He wants to make sure she knows that he is okay, nothing to worry about on his end." Abedin wrote Cheng back promising to tell Clinton the news. "Will make sure she knows," she wrote back. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill declined Saturday to say if the secretary was ever alerted or briefed to the Russian spy effort, instead suggesting that any focus on the spy case was a partisan effort to distract from the controversy around Moscow and President Trump. “Nothing has changed since the last time this was addressed, including the right’s transparent attempts to distract from their own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security,” he wrote in an email to The Hill. Back in 2010, when the spy story broke, Hillary Clinton’s office issued a statement that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.” Court documents and agents who worked the case suggest otherwise, saying the Russians were specifically targeting her department and any intelligence they could get on the new administration’s emerging foreign policy.
Trying to get inside State
The FBI documents show exactly what Murphy’s Russian handlers wanted her to get from a Clinton-tied donor she had befriended. “Maybe he can provide Murphy with remarks re US foreign policy, roumors (sic) about White House internal kitchen, invite her to major venues,” one FBI document quoted the Russians as saying. By 2010, the Russian SVR urged Murphy to consider taking a job with a lobbying firm because “this position would expose her to prospective contacts and potential sources in U.S. government,” the FBI affidavit read. Figliuzzi said it was the FBI's belief that Murphy wasn’t going to risk taking a job inside the State Department, where the vetting process might unmask her true identity. So she aimed for a private sector job where “she could get next to people who had the jobs who could get the information she wanted from State,” he said. The retired FBI executive said that by early summer 2010, agents feared Chapman might flee the country and Murphy was getting too close to posing a security concern to Hillary Clinton. As a result, they arrested the entire ring of 10 spies, and quickly expelled them. “In regards to the woman known as Cynthia Murphy, she was getting close to Alan, and the lobbying job. And we thought this was too close to Hillary Clinton. So when you have the totality of the circumstance, and we were confident we had the whole cell identified, we decided it was time to shut down their operations,” Figliuzzi said. The FBI announced the arrests on June 28, 2010, a day after they were made. The ring highlights the long-standing efforts Russia has made to gain access to U.S. officials, which sprouted up well before the last election. But the recent events also illustrate how Russia’s efforts have advanced. Figliuzzi said they show a “logical evolution or morphing of methodology to exploit social media in a way that is far more effective and potentially damaging” than the spy ring rolled up in 2010. “We watched a sleeper cell of 10 people for 10 years that didn't come close to the impact of a few thousand ads and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram,” he said.
Bill Clinton’s big check
A day after the arrests of the sleeper ring, another event captured the FBI’s attention. Thousands of miles away in Russia, former President Clinton collected a $500,000 check for giving a 90-minute speech to Renaissance Capital, a Kremlin-connected bank, then scored a meeting with Putin himself.

clinton-putin.jpg

The check caught the attention of FBI agents, especially with Hillary Clinton having recently returned from meetings in Russia, and her department working on a variety of issues where Moscow had an interest, records show. One issue was American approval of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom’s purchase of a Canadian company called Uranium One, which controlled 20 percent of America’s strategic uranium reserves. State was one of more than a dozen federal agencies that needed to weigh in, and a Clinton deputy was handling the matter. The second issue was the Russian company TENEX’s desire to score a new raft of commercial nuclear sales to U.S. companies. TENEX for years was selling uranium recycled from old Soviet warheads to the United States. But that deal was coming to an end and now it needed a new U.S. market. And the third was a promise Secretary Clinton herself made to Russian leaders to round up support in America’s Silicon Valley for then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s dream for a new high-tech hub outside Moscow known as Skolkovo. A team of venture capitalists had been dispatched to Moscow just a few weeks before Bill Clinton landed the check, records show. "We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level,” Hillary Clinton said at the time, according to a State Department transcript. She added that the business executives she dispatched to Putin's homeland had "Twittered their way through Russia." The bank that paid Bill Clinton was promoting the Uranium One deal’s stock. And the former president entertained – though he never followed through with – meeting with two Russian figures who had ties to the nuclear sales and the Silicon Valley deals as well, State Department records show. Angel Urena, the official spokeswoman for the former president, told The Hill that Bill Clinton never discussed the issues pending before his wife’s department when he was in Russia and that the money he collected for himself and his charitable efforts never influenced his wife’s decision-making.
Another investigation
Away from Bill Clinton’s check and the breaking news of a spy ring, the FBI had another major investigation underway where the Clinton name was surfacing. Since 2009, the FBI had an undercover informant gathering evidence of a massive bribery and kickback scheme inside the Russian nuclear energy firm TENEX and its American arm TENAM. Years later, FBI agents would help the Justice Department bring charges against the Russian nuclear industry’s point man in the United States, TENEX director Vadim Mikerin, as well as a Russian financier and an American trucking executive whose company moved Russian uranium around the United States. But as the informant gathered evidence of the bribery scheme in early 2010, he began to hear a familiar name crop up in conversations. The Russians kept talking about ways they could win access to or favor with the Clintons, and the informant kept reporting it back to his FBI handlers. The informant has never been publicly identified, but his lawyer told The Hill on Friday he can shed significant light to Congress on what the Russians were doing to try to win favorable treatment from the Obama administration. “I can confirm that my client while working undercover for the FBI and in the employ of the Russian energy firm TENEX witnessed numerous, detailed conversations in which Russian actors described their efforts to lobby, influence or ingratiate themselves with the Clintons in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration,” attorney Victoria Toensing said. “Unfortunately, he cannot at the present time disclose the specifics of that evidence he reported to the agents in real time because of an NDA he signed with the bureau. But we are working with Congress to find a means in the future for him to transmit the important information he possesses,” she added. There are some public records that show what TENEX was trying to do inside the United States. The Russian firm between 2009 and 2011 hired two Washington consulting firms to help it win Obama administration approval for policies and contracts that opened up billions in new nuclear fuel sales for TENEX, foreign agent registration records show. Those firms were never implicated in any wrongdoing in court records, and were just doing contract work to expand the Russian company's commercial nuclear sales inside the United States. The lobbying work was perfectly legal, focusing on agencies like State, Commerce and Energy that supervised the U.S.-Russia nuclear relationship. But once again, a connection to the Clintons emerged. One of the firms TENEX hired in 2010 was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in support to the Clinton Global Initiative, starting in 2008.



Mueller shifts to Tony Podesta, Democratic lobbying firm: report
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/356654 ... irm-report
Category: Politics
Published: October 23, 2017

Description: Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group, according to an NBC News report. Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, is reportedly probing the firm to determine whether it violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in its work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU). The nonprofit ECFMU was part of a public relations campaign run by President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to bolster Ukraine’s reputation. A spokesperson for the Podesta Group said in a statement to The Hill that the firm “fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work.” “Any insinuation to the contrary is false,” the spokesperson added. “The Podesta Group has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms compliance with the law," the spokesperson said. "Based on our due diligence and on the recommendation of definitive legal experts, the firm immediately filed the appropriate public disclosures of its representation of the ECFMU over five years ago, and in eight subsequent public filings. “The Podesta Group’s work for ECFMU, a non profit think tank, was in support of Ukraine’s admission to the EU, a position supported by foreign policy experts at the time. The ECFMU provided formal certification that it was neither funded by nor directed by a government or political party.” Mueller reportedly issued grand jury subpoenas in August for the firms that worked on the public image campaign run by Manafort. The Podesta Group altered its disclosure under FARA related to the non-profit following media reports, NBC News noted.

john-and-tony-podesta.jpg

Tony Podesta's brother is John Podesta, a veteran of the Clinton administration and the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid. The siblings co-founded Podesta Group in 1988.



House GOP leaders open probe into FBI's handling of Clinton investigation
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... mail-probe
Category: Politics
Published: October 24, 2017

Description: The chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Tuesday announced a joint investigation into how the FBI handled last year's probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of State. "Decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement. The two Republican leaders said they have questions about the FBI's decision to openly declare the bureau's investigation into Clinton's handling of classified information, while quietly investigating Trump campaign associates. They said they also want to know why the FBI decided to formally notify Congress of the Clinton probe on two separate occasions; why the FBI — rather than the Justice Department — recommended that Clinton not be charged after the investigation concluded; and the reasoning behind their timeline for announcing such decisions. "The Committees will review these decisions and others to better understand the reasoning behind how certain conclusions were drawn. Congress has a constitutional duty to preserve the integrity of our justice system by ensuring transparency and accountability of actions taken," their statement continued. Former FBI director James Comey apparently began drafting his statement that the FBI would not recommend charges months before his July 2016 announcement. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) first announced in late August that Comey had drafted a statement on Clinton months before making a public statement, saying the decision was drawn up "before the FBI had interviewed key witnesses." The revelation sparked a flurry of questions about why Comey waited months after beginning to draft a statement to announce the end of the investigation in the midst of a heated presidential race. President Trump fired Comey earlier this year, citing his handling of the Clinton probe. Special counsel Robert Mueller, however, is investigating whether Trump fired Comey to obstruct justice in the Russia probes. Comey was leading the inquiry at the time. The top Democrats on these panels, Oversight’s Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Judiciary’s Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), slammed the decision as an attempt to distract the public eye from the Russia meddling investigation that they said is picking up speed. “This new investigation is a massive diversion to distract from the lack of Republican oversight of the Trump Administration and the national security threat that Russia poses,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement, pointing to “ten months of abdication of responsibility” to look into the abuses taking place at the White House. “The Russian government continues to represent a clear and present threat to the United States and our democratic system, and we are the targets of near-constant cyberattacks by foreign adversaries. Yet House Republicans have taken no concrete steps to secure our next election. Apparently, House Republicans are more concerned about Jim Comey than Vladimir Putin,” they said. Comey has come under scrutiny for the decisions he made regarding the email investigation. He disclosed during his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had urged him to describe the Clinton email probe as a "matter" rather than an investigation. The ousted FBI chief said her request gave him a “queasy feeling” because it matched "how the [Clinton] campaign was talking about how the FBI was doing its work.”



House GOP launches pair of inquiries into Hillary Clinton
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/35700 ... ry-clinton
Category: Politics
Published: October 25, 2017

Description: It’s almost been a year since the 2016 presidential election, but Republicans are putting the spotlight back on a familiar political foil: Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, top House Republicans launched a pair of investigations. The Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees will jointly investigate the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s handling of classified documents. Meanwhile, the latter committee with the Intelligence committee will jointly probe the sale of a uranium company to a Russian firm when Clinton was secretary of State. The seemingly coordinated investigations — which were announced within a half-hour of each other — is sure to fire up the conservative base and infuriate Democrats who want House investigators to more rigorously probe Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. “It’s totally stupid,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a chief Trump critic, said of the pair of GOP investigations into Clinton. He lamented that Republicans were treating Clinton as if she had won the White House last year. “If they want to install Hillary Clinton as president, then I’d be fine investigating the president.” The new House investigations are reminiscent of GOP probes last campaign cycle that focused on Clinton’s private email server, her handling of classified information and her response to the deadly 2012 Benghazi attack while she was leading the State Department. Those investigations chipped away at Clinton’s credibility and popularity at a time when she was running for the White House. These new probes, backed by GOP leadership, come just as Republicans begin to gear up for the 2018 midterm elections, where they are aggressively defending both chambers of Congress. But those involved in the new House probes argued that these are legitimate issues that Republicans have been asking about and wanting to investigate for years. Former Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.), a member of the Intelligence panel, said he first raised questions about the Russian uranium deal when it was approved in 2010. But last week, The Hill reported that before the Obama administration had approved the Uranium One sale, the FBI had gathered evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering to infiltrate the U.S. energy market. “New evidence has just come out,” King told The Hill. “We found out within the last week there could have been an investigation by the FBI. That’s very pertinent.” Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and other Republicans want to know whether there was, in fact, an FBI investigation into Russian efforts to infiltrate the U.S. energy market and whether Clinton and the Obama administration should have approved the deal in the first place. As for the other probe, Gowdy and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said they have questions about why the FBI decided to go public with its investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information while surreptitiously investigating Trump campaign associates. They also want to know why the FBI, not the Justice Department, recommended that Clinton not be charged after the investigation was completed. “Questions surrounding the Obama Department of Justice’s handling of the investigation into Secretary Clinton should be fully examined. That investigation gave us more questions than it did answers,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a senior member of the Oversight panel and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. “The fact that Secretary Clinton lost an election and Loretta Lynch no longer serves as Attorney General should not allow their questionable conduct to go without appropriate scrutiny.” However, not all Republicans are thrilled with the idea of continuing to probe Clinton deep into the 2018 campaign cycle. Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and other members of the centrist Tuesday Group said focusing on Clinton forces the GOP to look backward rather than to the future. “I believe that race has already been run. That day is over,” Joyce told The Hill. “It’s time for us to move on as Republicans.” Another Republican who is close to leadership lamented that launching the pair of Clinton-related probes now is distracting from the party’s No. 1 priority: passing tax reform. “We’ve been champing at the bit to get information about these things for years. A lot of us have real serious questions about both of these issues,” said the GOP lawmaker. “But I think it’s better to keep the focus on tax reform. I’m not sure it’s great politics to have all these other distractions. I just think anything that distracts from tax reform is not helpful.”



Grassley calls for special counsel on Uranium One sale
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/3571 ... -uranium-1
Category: Politics
Published: October 25, 2017

Description: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is calling on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One deal that gave a Russian-owned company partial control of U.S. atomic energy resources in 2010. "Whoever in DOJ is capable [with] authority to appoint a special counsel [should] do so to investigate Uranium One 'whoever' means if [you] aren't recused," Grassley tweeted Tuesday night. The FBI already has one special counsel — former FBI Director Robert Mueller is leading the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Senate Judiciary Committee announced last week that it was opening an inquiry into the Uranium One sale. The House Oversight and Intelligence panels on Tuesday also announced a joint investigation that will look into how the Justice Department handled the deal, which sold more than 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom. The congressional committee interest in the matter comes after The Hill reported Sunday that the FBI had been leading a criminal investigation into allegations that the Russians used racketeering and other corrupt schemes to influence the American nuclear industry during the time the uranium deal was in the process of being approved. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the panel has “been looking into this for a while now,” but the report ultimately convinced them to open a formal inquiry. "One of the things that you know we're concerned about is whether or not there was an FBI investigation," Nunes said. "Was there a DOJ investigation? If so, why was Congress not informed of this matter?" The sale of the Canadian mining company to Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom, required the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which includes representatives from several federal agencies, including the State Department. At the time, Hillary Clinton was secretary of State. Clinton on Monday called the new interest in the uranium deal “baloney” in a C-SPAN interview, suggesting President Trump and his administration are trying to distract from the ongoing Russia probe.



FBI informant in Obama-era Russian nuclear bribery cleared to testify before Congress
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/3572 ... ify-before
Category: Politics
Published: October 25, 2017

Description: The Justice Department on Wednesday night released a former FBI informant from a confidentiality agreement, allowing him to testify before Congress about what he witnessed undercover about the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favorable decisions during the Obama administration. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores confirmed to The Hill a deal had been reached clearing the informant to talk to Congress for the first time, nearly eight years after he first went undercover for the FBI. “As of tonight, the Department of Justice has authorized the informant to disclose to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as one member of each of their staffs, any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market, including but not limited to anything related to Vadim Mikerin, Rosatom, Tenex, Uranium One, or the Clinton Foundation,” she said. Multiple congressional committees have been seeking to interview the informant, whose name has not been released publicly, because he stayed undercover for nearly five years providing agents information on Russia’s aggressive efforts to grow its atomic energy business in America. His work helped the Justice Department secure convictions against Russia’s top commercial nuclear executive in the United States, a Russian financier in New Jersey and the head of a U.S. uranium trucking company in what prosecutors said was a long-running racketeering scheme involving bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering. But the informant was unable to provide answers to lawmakers’ recent inquiries because he had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the bureau. He also was forced by the Justice Department in 2016 to withdraw a lawsuit that threatened to call attention to the case during last year’s presidential election. The man’s lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told The Hill on Wednesday night that the FBI sent her a formal letter saying it no longer had any reason to ask the informant to keep his work confidential, clearing the way for him to potentially testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The committees are keen to learn what the informant knows about any Russian efforts to curry favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton, to win Obama administration approval for Moscow’s purchase of large uranium assets in the United States or to secure billions in new uranium sales contracts with American utilities. “The FBI has informed me that they are releasing my client from his [nondisclosure agreement] so that he can testify to Congress about his work uncovering the Russian nuclear bribery case and the efforts he witnessed by Moscow to gain influence with the Clintons in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration,” Toensing said. “He is now able and willing to talk with the congressional committees seeking his testimony though I will be working with all parties to ensure his identity remains confidential to ensure his safety,” she added. Russia’s uranium business drew controversy starting in 2015 when it was revealed that former President Clinton collected a $500,000 speaking fee from a Russian bank and millions more in charitable donations interested in the Uranium One deal while his wife Hillary Clinton served as secretary of State. Russia’s Tenex nuclear sales arm also secured billions in new American nuclear fuel contracts about the same time. The Obama administration said they saw no national security reasons to block the deals, one of which gave Russian President Vladimir Putin control of 20 percent of America’s uranium stockpile. But last week a series of stories published in The Hill disclosed that before those decisions were made, the FBI had gathered extensive evidence that Mikerin, Tenex’s chief executive inside the United States, was directing a massive bribery scheme, compromising an American trucking company that shipped uranium for Russia. The evidence was first gathered in 2009, but charges weren’t brought until 2014. Mikerin pleaded guilt a year later to a money laundering charge and is currently in prison. But key members of Congress said they weren’t alerted to the case at the time and are now deeply concerned the Obama administration had a good security reason not to approve the deals given that corruption was uncovered.



Kelly calls for probe into Clinton, DNC funding of Russian dossier
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... linton-dnc
Category: Politics
Published: October 31, 2017

Description: White House chief of staff John Kelly on Monday said that a special counsel should be appointed to investigate an Obama-era uranium sale and Democrats' roles in funding a controversial opposition research dossier. In an interview on Fox News's "The Ingraham Angle," Kelly said that Americans have a right to know what the U.S. government is doing "on any given day," and an "objective" investigator is necessary to look into "accusations" against Democrats. "One of the strengths I have in looking at issues in my job, I think probably as a layman looking at this kind of thing, we need to find someone who’s very, very objective, who can get to the bottom of these accusations," Kelly said. "I think it’s important. Again, the American people have an absolute right to know these things." Kelly also denied allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow and said that the Trump administration had been transparent and forthcoming with the American people, pointing to the president's recent decision to release all the remaining files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as evidence. Kelly's comments come as associates of President Trump find themselves under scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. On Monday, Mueller unveiled charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, including money laundering and tax fraud, marking the first charges of the special counsel's probe. At the same time, Republicans on Capitol Hill have moved to open investigations into an Obama-era uranium deal that was approved by the State Department under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Some GOP lawmakers have suggested that the State Department okayed the deal after the Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit group started by Hillary Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, received a $145 million donation. It was also revealed last week that Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the research contained in a controversial dossier alleging ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.



Fusion GPS paid ex-British spy $168,000 for work on dossier
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/35 ... on-dossier
Category: Politics
Published: November 1, 2017

Description: The private research firm behind a dossier that included incendiary allegations about President Trump revealed in a statement Wednesday that it paid $168,000 for a former British spy's work assembling the documents. According to a report by Reuters, Fusion GPS told Congress that it paid former MI6 officer Christopher Steele's company, Orbis Business Intelligence, $168,000 in 2016. The money from Fusion GPS came from $1.02 million it had received from Perkins Coie law firm, which represented the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The Washington Post first reported last week that Clinton’s campaign and the DNC funded the dossier. The transaction passed through Democratic lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie. Elias contracted the work out to opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which had the connection to Steele, the former British spy. While none of the principals have denied that the Clinton campaign and DNC funded the dossier through payments to Perkins Coie, everyone involved is claiming they did not know about the project. BuzzFeed News published the dossier in January. Other media outlets declined to publish the report because it was unverified.



Brazile: ‘Proof’ that Clinton rigged nomination process ‘broke my heart’
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/35 ... e-my-heart
Category: Politics
Published: November 2, 2017

Description: Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile writes in a new book that it “broke [her] heart” when she discovered evidence that she said showed Hillary Clinton’s campaign fixed the Democratic nomination system in her favor. In an excerpt from “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House" that was provided to Politico, Brazile explains how she was tasked with investigating the DNC after hacked emails suggested the Clinton campaign fixed the nomination. “By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart,” Brazile wrote, referring to Clinton's main opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Brazile described an agreement between the Clinton campaign, the DNC and Clinton’s joint fundraising committee that said the campaign would “control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.” The arrangement was made to financially help the party, which was in significant debt following the 2012 reelection campaign of former President Barack Obama, she added. “The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearing house,” Brazile wrote. Brazile noted that the agreement was signed in August of 2015, effectively giving Clinton control of the party almost one year before she secured the nomination. “The funding arrangement ... was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile wrote. “If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.” Brazile's revelations add to criticism from supporters of Sanders, who ran an unsuccessful insurgent campaign against Clinton in the Democratic primary.



Sanders supporters see vindication in Brazile's DNC revelations
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/35 ... evelations
Category: Politics
Published: November 2, 2017

Description: Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman Donna Brazile’s accusations that the party favored Hillary Clinton during the presidential primary have reopened old divisions, frustrating supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Brazile levied the charges Thursday in a Politico excerpt of her forthcoming book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House.” In her book, Brazile depicts a DNC woefully mismanaged by chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) to the point that it had no choice but to rely on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign’s extensive fundraising apparatus to stay afloat. Brazile’s allegations that the DNC was dependent on Clinton offer further proof to Sanders supporters who believe the DNC was biased against their candidate. “We all knew this was happening and the denials were just ludicrous — the entire Democratic Party establishment was united and aligned to do everything possible to deliver the election to Hillary Clinton, even if that meant taking unethical and corrupt steps,” Jonathan Tasini, a Sanders campaign surrogate who ran against Clinton for Senate in 2006, told The Hill. Brazile’s most serious allegations centered on the stipulations in the Clinton campaign’s joint fundraising agreement with the DNC, an August 2015 deal that allowed the campaign to combine its fundraising efforts with the broader Democratic apparatus. The existence of the agreement is not new — news outlets reported on both Clinton and Sanders signing the agreements with the DNC back in 2015. Only Clinton chose to fundraise through that partnership, which opened her campaign up to allegations last year that money raised to benefit state parties was being used in ways that benefited her campaign. But Brazile claimed in the excerpt that Clinton’s agreement itself represented an uneven playing field. She said that the terms turned over the party’s finances, strategy and staffing decisions to the candidate’s campaign while promising Clinton’s team input on other party decisions as well, months before the first primary votes were cast and almost a year before the party’s convention. “The funding arrangement with [Clinton’s campaign] and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile wrote. “If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity,” she wrote. It’s unclear whether Sanders’s joint fundraising agreement included any language offering it a say in those internal party debates. Sanders political aides did not respond to a request for comment. The excerpt has set off yet another firestorm in the party, which has struggled to move on from the brutal primary. Even as the party seeks to move on from the divisive primary, where hacked internal party emails showed DNC aides openly lobbying for Clinton’s victory, repeated flare-ups have stoked the divide over the months since Election Day. Adam Green, a Sanders supporter who co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, argued in a statement that the revelations up the pressure on the party’s Unity Reform Commission, a group created at last year’s convention to issue recommendations to help bring the party together. "When it comes to fostering trust in the DNC, the entire ballgame is the Unity Reform Commission's forthcoming proposals and whether they are strong and adopted by DNC leadership,” he said. “After recent news, reforms should also include barring Joint Fundraising Agreements that give an advantage to one candidate over another during a primary — and addressing the conflicts of interest that arise when the DNC and presidential campaigns use the same law firm," he said.​ Brazile’s allegations about Clinton’s sway over the party aren’t the only revelation in the book that’s stirring up Democrats. Her depiction of a bloated DNC that struggled to stay afloat during the election cycle has given new rise to calls to investigate the party’s finances. Recounting a July conversation with Clinton campaign chief financial officer Gary Gensler just days after the Democratic National Convention, Brazile said she found out that the party was $2 million in debt and that the Clinton campaign “had placed the party on an allowance.” Pointing to Brazile’s characterization of a DNC bloated with consultant salaries, prominent Sanders supporters have upped their calls for a full-scale re-evaluation of party spending. “I have personally not just called for an autopsy, but an audit. We need real primary reforms ... but also accountability,” Nomiki Konst, a Sanders delegate to the Unity Reform Commission, tweeted Thursday. “States will not win legislatures if the DNC doesn’t understand where they blew all the money in the last 9 years. Also won’t raise [the money] back.” Xochitl Hinojosa, the current DNC communications director, issued a statement on Thursday that emphasized the party’s push to ensure everyone feels like they receive a fair shake in elections. “The DNC must remain neutral in the presidential primary process, and there shouldn’t even be a perception that the DNC is interfering in that process,” she said. “Under the new leadership, the DNC has signed a joint fundraising agreement with all 50 states and D.C. well ahead of the presidential primary process in order to support our state parties and win at the state, local and national level in 2017, 2018 and beyond. This is unprecedented. We are no longer a party that is only focused on electing Democrats every four years. We’re a party that elects Democrats every year and in every single zip code.” As the party marches toward the next presidential cycle, Tasini warned that leadership has to abide by that promise of neutrality. “If they try this again, the Democratic Party will be done. There are plenty of people, like me, who have held back from leaving the party to try to fix it,” he said. “But if there’s a repeat of this, it’s over. People will stream out of the party, the party will collapse, and Donald Trump will be reelected.”



Uranium One deal led to some exports to Europe, memos show
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... memos-show
Category: Politics
Published: November 2, 2017

Description: After the Obama administration approved the sale of a Canadian mining company with significant U.S. uranium reserves to a firm owned by Russia’s government, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured Congress and the public the new owners couldn’t export any raw nuclear fuel from America’s shores. “No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release that announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets. A year later, the nuclear regulator repeated the assurance in a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican in whose state Uranium One operated mines. “Neither Uranium One Inc. nor AMRZ holds a specific NRC export license. In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for an obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the exports of uranium for use in reactor fuel,” then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko wrote Barrasso. The NRC never issued an export license to the Russian firm, a fact so engrained in the narrative of the Uranium One controversy that it showed up in The Washington Post’s official fact-checker site this week. “We have noted repeatedly that extracted uranium could not be exported by Russia without a license, which Rosatom does not have,” The Post reported on Monday, linking to the 2011 Barrasso letter. Yet NRC memos reviewed by The Hill shows that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party. Later, the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show. NRC officials said they could not disclose the total amount of uranium that Uranium One exported because the information is proprietary. They did, however, say that the shipments only lasted from 2012 to 2014 and that they are unaware of any exports since then. NRC officials told The Hill that Uranium One exports flowed from Wyoming to Canada and on to Europe between 2012 through 2014, and the approval involved a process with multiple agencies. Rather than give Rosatom a direct export license — which would have raised red flags inside a Congress already suspicious of the deal — the NRC in 2012 authorized an amendment to an existing export license for a Paducah, Ky.,-based trucking firm called RSB Logistics Services Inc. to simply add Uranium One to the list of clients whose uranium it could move to Canada. The license, reviewed by The Hill, is dated March 16, 2012, and it increased the amount of uranium ore concentrate that RSB Logistics could ship to the Cameco Corp. plant in Ontario from 7,500,000 kilograms to 12,000,000 kilograms and added Uranium One to the “other parties to Export.” The move escaped notice in Congress. Officials at RSB, Cameco and Rosatom did not return repeated phone calls or emails seeking comment. Uranium One's American arm, however, emailed a statement to The Hill on Wednesday evening confirming it did export uranium to Canada through the trucking firm and that 25 percent of that nuclear fuel eventually made its way outside North America to Europe and Asia, stressing all the exports complied with federal law. “None of the US U308 product produced to date has been sold to non-US customers except for approximately 25% which was sold via book transfer at the conversion facilities to customers from Western Europe and Asia," executive Martha Wickers said. “Any physical export of the product from conversion facilities to non-US destinations is under the control of such customers and subject to NRC regulation.” The United States actually imports the majority of the uranium it uses as fuel. In 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 24 percent of the imports came from Kazakhstan and 14 percent came from Russia. The selling of Uranium One to a Russian-owned firm, however, has created political waves that have led to multiple congressional investigations. Republicans say they want to learn how the sale could have been approved and whether there was political interference. “The more that surfaces about this deal, the more questions it raises," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement released after this story was published. Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has launched an investigation into Uranium One. "It now appears that despite pledges to the contrary, U.S. uranium made its way overseas as a part of the Uranium One deal," Grassley said in the statement. "What’s more disturbing, those transactions were apparently made possible by various Obama Administration agencies while the Democrat-controlled Congress turned a blind eye. “Americans deserve assurances that political influence was not a factor in all this. I’m increasingly convinced that a special counsel — someone with no prior involvement in any of these deals — should shine a light on this ordeal and get answers for the American people.” Government officials told The Hill that the NRC was able to amend the export license affecting Uranium One because of two other decisions previously made by the Obama administration as part of a Russian “reset” in President Obama’s first term. First, Obama reinstated a U.S.-Russia civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement. President George W. Bush had signed the agreement in 2008, but withdrew from it before it could take effect after Russia became involved in a military conflict with the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a U.S. ally, and new concerns surfaced that Moscow was secretly aiding Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Obama re-submitted the agreement for approval by the Democratic-controlled Congress in May 2010, declaring Russia should be viewed as a friendly partner under Section 123 the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 after agreeing to a new nuclear weapons reduction deal and helping the U.S. with Iran. “I have concluded: (1) that the situation in Georgia need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding with the proposed Agreement; and (2) that the level and scope of U.S.-Russia cooperation on Iran are sufficient to justify resubmitting the proposed agreement to the Congress,” Obama said in a statement sent to Congress. Congress took no action, which allowed the deal to become effective 90 days later. The other step that allowed uranium from the Russian-controlled minds in the United States to be exported came in 2011 when the Commerce Department removed Rosatom, Uranium One’s owner, from a list of restricted companies that could not export nuclear or other sensitive materials or technologies without special approval under the Export Administration Regulations. “This final rule removes the Federal Atomic Power of Russia (Rusatom) now known as the Russian State Corporation of Atomic Energy (Rosatom),” the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security declared in a May 24, 2011 notice in the Federal Register that created few waves. Rosatom had been on the list for a long time, so long in fact that it was still listed in the federal database under its old name, Rusatom. Officials said the effort to remove the Russian nuclear firm was a “policy decision” driven by the State Department, Energy Department, Commerce Department and other agencies with Russia portfolios designed to recognize that bilateral relations between Russia and the United States had improved slightly. Nine months after Rosatom was removed from the export restrictions list, the NRC issued its license amendment to the trucking firm in March 2012 that cleared the way for Uranium One exports, making it effective for nearly five years, to the end of 2017. But the NRC also stipulated that Uranium One’s uranium should be returned to the United States. “The uranium authorized for export is to be returned to the United States,” the NRC instructed in the export license amendment. But that, too, didn’t happen. Officials told The Hill that the Energy Department subsequently gave approval for some of the American fuel to depart Canada and be exported to European enrichment centers, according to a 2015 letter that the NRC sent to Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana. The NRC explained to Visclosky it had originally stipulated that after the American uranium was treated in Canada, it had to “then return the uranium to the U.S. for further processing.” “That license stated that the Canadian Government needed to obtain prior approval before any of the U.S. material could be transferred to any country other than the U.S.,” the letter added. “Subsequently the U.S. Department of Energy granted approval for some re-transfers of U.S. uranium from the Canadian conversion facilities to European enrichment plants.” The NRC added, however, it did not believe any of the American uranium made its way “directly” to Russia. And it added that the whole supply chain scenario was made possible by the resubmission of Obama’s 123 agreement in 2010. “The transfer of the U.S.-supplied uranium from Canada to Europe noted above also was subject to applicable Section 123 agreements,” the NRC noted. Section 123 is the part of the Atomic Energy Act that allows for the US to share peaceful civilian nuclear technology and goods with allies. The Uranium One deal has been controversial since at least 2015 when The New York Times reported former President Bill Clinton received a $500,000 speech fee from a Russian bank and millions in donations to his charitable foundation from sources interested in the deal around the time the Uranium One sale was being reviewed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department and eight other federal agencies. Hillary Clinton has said she delegated the approval decision to a deputy on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and did not apply any pressure. Bill Clinton has said the monies he received had no bearing on his wife’s policymaking decisions. The 2015 Times article included a single reference to Uranium One officials saying they believed some of its American uranium made its way to Europe and Japan without any reference to how that occurred. NRC officials said the multiple decisions documented in the memos, including the 2012 amendment of the third-party export license, provide the most complete description to date of how Russian-owned uranium ended up getting exported from the United States. The entire Uranium One episode is getting a fresh look after The Hill disclosed late last month that the FBI had gathered extensive evidence in 2009 — before the mine sale was approved — that Rosatom’s main executive in the United States was engaged in a racketeering scheme that included bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering. The probe was enabled by an undercover informant working for the FBI inside the Russian nuclear industry, court records show. But the Justice Department did not make that evidence public until 2014, long after Rosatom benefited from multiple favorable decisions from the Obama administration. The Senate Judiciary, House Intelligence and House Oversight committees have all announced plans to investigate the new revelation, and the Justice Department has given approval for the undercover informant to testify for the first time about what he witnessed the Russians doing to influence Obama administration decisions favorable to Rosatom between 2009 and 2014. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have described the renewed focus on the Uranium One deal as simply a distraction from the current investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump became the 45th president. She also says that concerns about the Uranium One have long ago been “debunked.” But it’s not just Republicans who have said that the revelation the FBI had evidence that Rosatom was engaged in criminality during the time it was receiving favorable decisions from the U.S. government deserves fresh scrutiny. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees, told The Hill she could like to learn more about what the FBI knew. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has criticized Republicans for investigating Hillary Clinton, but said on “Morning Joe” last month he has "no problem looking into" the Uranium One deal. And Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said Sunday on CNN that he believed it was appropriate for Congress to investigate the new information. “One of the House committees has already begun an oversight committee hearing," King said. "I always think oversight hearings are appropriate. I’ve been trying to understand this deal." King also repeated the oft-quoted narrative that the “company changed hands, but the uranium that is mined in the United States cannot leave the United States." The NRC license now shows now that Uranium One was, in fact, allowed to export American uranium. A legal expert on the CFIUS process told The Hill that the new revelation that the FBI knew that a Rosatom official was engaged in illegality on U.S. soil before the sale was approved could very well have impacted the decision if that evidence had been made public in real time. “Criminal behavior would be something the committee would take into consideration when evaluating a transaction with a foreign company,” said Stewart Baker, a foreign commerce law expert at the Steptoe Johnson firm. “It is a consideration, but it is not something that would guarantee a particular outcome.” He said the CFIUS board would need “to consider how serious the criminal behavior is, in the context of this transaction, how likely is it that someone acting against U.S. security interest would take action,” he added.



FBI turns over new Clinton investigation documents to Congress
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... o-congress
Category: Politics
Published: November 4, 2017

Description: The FBI has begun turning over to Senate investigators hundreds of pages of memos regarding the bureau's probe into Hillary Clinton's private email server, sources told The Hill. The sources said the Justice Department notified the Senate Judiciary Committee late Friday and the FBI began transmitting memos soon after to assist Congress in its review of former Director James Comey's handling of the Clinton email case. The memos detail how and when the bureau's leadership declined to pursue criminal charges against Clinton for transmitting classified information on her private email server as secretary of State, an investigation that has remained controversial since the 2016 presidential campaigns. FBI officials declined to comment. "We don't have any information for you," spokeswoman Carol Cratty told The Hill. The Senate committee has been seeking the memos for some time as it investigates whether Comey chose to absolve Clinton of criminal liability before the election-year probe was complete and before she was even interviewed. Comey ultimately concluded that while Clinton's handling of classified emails was careless, there was not enough evidence of intent to warrant criminal charges. Comey had announced in July 2016 that the FBI was declining to pursue charges against Clinton for what it called the careless transmission of classified documents on her private email server. The FBI then re-opened the email case in late October 2016, shocking the political world because it was so close to Election Day, after a new trove of emails was found on an associate's computer. Comey then announced a second time he did not plan to pursue criminal charges, a move that came just two days before Clinton lost to Trump in the election. The FBI's handling was roundly criticized by both Clinton and Trump, and was one of the reasons cited when Trump fired Comey as director earlier this year. Clinton has also blamed Comey in part for her loss in the election. The new documents being transmitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to shed light on how the FBI made those decisions, who was involved and whether the decision to clear Clinton was made before she was even interviewed by FBI agents in spring 2016. The release of the new documents comes as new FBI Director Christopher Wray attempts to build his own relationship with Congress amid multiple oversight investigations. The release also comes hours after new documents came to light in a federal lawsuit showing exactly when FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe recused himself from the Clinton email investigation, which was codenamed "Mid Year." McCabe was forced to step aside due to questions about a possible conflict of interest involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that flowed to his wife's political campaign from a Clinton ally. Those documents (below), released under a FOIA lawsuit to the conservative group Judicial Watch, show McCabe did not recuse himself from the long-running investigation until Nov. 1, 2016, just six days before the probe was officially ended and eight days before Donald Trump was elected president over Clinton. "As of today I am voluntarily recusing myself from the ongoing Mid Year investigation," McCabe wrote. "I will continue to respond to congressional requests for historical information as needed." By the time McCabe recused himself, he had supervised the case for months after becoming deputy director of the bureau in February 2016. The decision followed newspaper articles that specifically questioned whether he had a conflict of interest because his wife Jill McCabe's 2015 Virginia state Senate campaign had accepted nearly $700,000 from Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Documents obtained under Virginia Open Records law show McCabe attended a March 2015 meeting with his wife and McAuliffe to secure the governor's support for her campaign, and the money flowed after that. McCabe first became involved in the Clinton email case when, as assistant FBI director of the Washington Field Office, he provided resources to the case and then formally supervised it starting in February 2016 when he became deputy director.



Early Comey memo accused Clinton of gross negligence on emails
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/3589 ... -on-emails
Category: Politics
Published: November 6, 2017

Description: An early draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement closing out the Hillary Clinton email case accused the former secretary of State of having been "grossly negligent” in handling classified information, newly reported memos to Congress show. The tough language was changed to the much softer accusation that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information when Comey announced in July 2016 there would be no charges against her. The change is significant, since federal law states that gross negligence in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines. Spokesmen for the FBI and Clinton did not immediately return phone calls or emails seeking comment. The draft, written weeks before the announcement of no charges, was described by multiple sources who saw the document both before and after it was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee this past weekend. “There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information,” reads the statement, one of Comey’s earliest drafts. Those sources said the draft statement was subsequently changed in red-line edits to conclude that the handling of 110 emails containing classified information that were transmitted by Clinton and her aides over her insecure personal email server was “extremely careless.” The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the memos show that at least three top FBI officials were involved in helping Comey fashion and edit the statement, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker and chief of staff Jim Rybicki. The documents turned over to Congress do not indicate who recommended the key wording changes, the sources said. The Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to demand the FBI identify who made the changes and why, the sources said. While Comey told Congress last year that he would never have prosecuted Clinton without proof she intended to violate a law, the editing of his statement suggests there might have been dissent within the FBI about that decision. Sources who had seen the draft said they are certain to renew interest among congressional Republicans into Comey’s decision making. “The red-line history clearly shows the original statement was designed to allege Clinton committed gross negligence and then someone changed it to extreme carelessness,” one source said. “Clearly there was a difference of opinion on the term derived right from the statute.” When Comey announced the decision to not bring charges against Clinton in July 2016 — shortly after Clinton had secured the Democratic nomination to run for president against Donald Trump — he said agents decided not to pursue criminal charges under the statute because they could not prove she intended to violate laws like the Espionage Act. But he harshly criticized Clinton for setting up a personal email server outside the State Department's security apparatus and then using it to transmit classified information. “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said at the time. “There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about the matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,” he said. Comey’s decision to not to seek criminal charges has been controversial since it was announced, with politicians and legal scholars alike debating whether intent was necessary to pursue criminal charges. Section 793 of federal law states, “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer — shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.” Some legal scholars have argued Comey’s analysis of the law was correct, citing a 1941 Supreme Court ruling saying the gross negligence statute was not constitutionally vague as long as prosecutors showed there was “intent or reason to believe that the information to be obtained is to be used to the injury of the United States.” But other scholars noted that prosecutions have been brought since the 1941 case in the military courts where intent wasn’t required. Comey argued in testimony before Congress that while he was aware of the gross negligence statute he did not believe any federal prosecutor would pursue that standard. “I know the Department of Justice, I know no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case. I know a lot of my former friends are out there saying they would. I wonder where they were in the last 40 years, because I'd like to see the cases they brought on gross negligence. Nobody would, nobody did,” he said. But Comey also conceded in public statements that the FBI also found some evidence of criminality during the email probe. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he explained.



Sessions weighs second special counsel to probe Clinton-related matters
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... l-to-probe
Category: Politics
Published: November 13, 2017

Description: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering naming a special counsel to lead an investigation into a list of matters involving Hillary Clinton, according to a Monday letter the Justice Department sent to the House Judiciary Committee. President Trump's top prosecutor is interested in further probing a wide range of topics including the Obama-era Uranium One deal that gave a Russian-owned company partial control of U.S. atomic energy resources. Officials told The Hill that the Justice Department is also currently investigating several issues related to Clinton Foundation donations, the unmasking of American identities by the intelligence community and former FBI Director James Comey's handling of the investigation into Clinton's private email server, all of which could lead to the appointment of a second special prosecutor if the facts warrant. The letter comes in response to the repeated appeal of Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary panel, who called on Sessions twice this year to appoint a second special counsel who could independently investigate these concerns. Goodlatte had particularly taken aim at Comey after revelations surfaced earlier this year that he had drafted a statement ending the agency's investigation into Clinton's email server before over a dozen key witnesses, including herself, had been interviewed about the issue. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd responded to Goodlatte, saying that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” according to the letter. Boyd added that they will “report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.” In the letter, Boyd repeatedly underscored that if they do open such probes, it will be for "non-political" reasons. “As noted during our prior meeting in response to your letters, the Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to provide timely and accurate information to Congress on issues of public interest and seeks to do so in a non-political manner that is consistent with the Department’s litigation, law enforcement, and national security responsibilities," Boyd wrote, adding that “this letter should not be construed” as a confirmation or denial of any such investigations as remains the department's long-practiced policy. “In addition, you must know the Department will never evaluate any matter except the facts and the law.” Sources said more work will need to be done to determine whether there is legal grounds to name a second special counsel for any of the issues, and Sessions is unlikely to say much more during his Tuesday appearance before the House Judiciary Committee beyond what he put in the Goodlatte letter. The letter also was meant to signal that Sessions has not recused himself from issues outside the Russia election tampering probe now under Robert Mueller's jurisdiction, such as the 2010 approval of the sale of Uranium One or the Clinton email case, the officials added. Trump, who has dismissed the current special counsel investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling as a "witch hunt," has publicly blasted Sessions for failing to aggressively pursue investigations that relate to his former 2016 campaign opponent. Earlier this month, Trump told reporters that the Justice Department “should be looking at the Democrats.” Democrats will likely blast Sessions for caving to Trump's demands if he follows through with the probe. Late last month, the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees announced that they will jointly look into the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s "home brew" server and her handling of classified documents. Meanwhile, the Intelligence Committee will probe the sale of a company with control over some U.S. uranium to a Russian firm when Clinton was secretary of State, after The Hill reported that the FBI was investigating a bribery scheme at the time of the deal. According to government documents and interviews, the FBI had substantial evidence that Russian nuclear officials were engaging in kickbacks, extortion and money laundering with the intention of trying to grow their atomic energy interests at the time of the 2010 sale, which was was approved by multiple U.S. agencies, including the Clinton-led State Department. Sources told The Hill there was also documented evidence of Russian officials routing millions of dollars into the Clinton Foundation at the time.



FBI 'special investigation' into Hillary Clinton's emails isn't that special
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/ ... at-special
Category: Politics
Published: November 19, 2017

Description: The conservative nonpartisan watchdog group Judicial Watch has been relentless in its pursuit of FBI documents related to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized usage of a personal server during her tenure as secretary of State. The focus of their document requests has been the conduct of senior level FBI officials connected to the case. Responding to innumerable Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (FOIPA) related requests from Judicial Watch, the FBI just released 76 pages of documents on The Vault, its public records site. Many of the documents are related to matters involving FBI Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe’s brief oversight of the Clinton email investigation, as well as his wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, who ran unsuccessfully for a Virginia state Senate seat in 2015. As has been widely reported, McCabe’s wife had been courted to compete for the seat by none other than Virginia's sitting governor, Terry McAuliffe, who provided nearly $467,500 to her campaign via the political action committee that he spearheads. But one particular notation within the document dump garnered undeserved attention. And some have fairly leapt at the opportunity to attach nefarious undertones to certain McCabe emails. In question is a particular usage of the word “special,” employed by McCabe in reference to the Clinton email investigation while he was the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office, a post he held until he returned to FBI headquarters and become deputy director:
[The Washington Field Office] provided some personnel for the effort but it was referred to as a ‘special’ and I was not given any details about it.

Some have proclaimed this to be the “smoking gun” that proves that McCabe, and then Director James B. Comey afforded Clinton “special treatment.” Conservative firebrand Tomi Lahren referenced a report on the story at The Hill, and proclaimed “Well ain’t that some s--t” to her nearly 1 million Twitter followers. FOX News host Sean Hannity touted the report as “explosive.” Many of us who were career FBI agents, and versed in the bureau’s history, traditions and administrative processes and protocols, shook our heads in bemusement at the folly. The FBI was founded in 1908, and owes much of its rich culture and rigid adherence to protocol to J. Edgar Hoover. Much of the FBI’s evident lexicon and vernacular are still stubbornly Hooveresque today. The term “special” is a relic from the Hoover era (1924-1972). I have canvassed a number of retired agents and all associated it with a case classification. The designation of “special” has also been known to have been used interchangeably with the designation “major case.” FBI administrative guidelines were once contained in massive three-ring binders of printed rules, and regulations known as the Manual of Administrative Operations and Procedures (MAOP). And while the voluminous notebook has since been replaced by a webpage, no colleague can seem to recall just where the designation of a “special” is clearly defined in print. Cases so designated as “special” are usually considered to be investigations with considerable significance — such as the crash of TWA Flight 800, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, the Eric Garner 2014 civil rights case, or the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. A “special” could also be deemed to be a case that is highly sensitive in nature — a case involving investigative targets who are journalists, clergymen, judges or politicians. “Specials” are not typically worked by an organic or homogenous squad in a field division. To this point, McCabe, in the email selection highlighted above, made mention that the Washington field office had “provided some personnel.” This is consistent with how a “major case” investigation is assembled. Executive management determines what resources — agent and material — are needed, and then fashions an investigative team uniquely suited — built, if you will — to meet the investigative challenges. While these cases are typically worked within the division that the crime(s) occurred, certain unique ones may actually be investigated from headquarters. And a case involving a presidential candidate, during the homestretch of a contentious presidential campaign, whose “transgressions” occurred while she was secretary of State, would undoubtedly end up at FBI headquarters and be overseen by the “seventh floor;” where the FBI director and staff were located. So that’s where the Clinton email investigation ultimately landed. And that’s why McCabe’s emails are relevant to a subsequent investigation into the potential politicization of the FBI. It certainly explains why some may have innocently misinterpreted the terminology used. During these most hyperpartisan of times, discovery of the word “special” in an FBI executive’s email about the Clinton case understandably raises red flags. McCabe should have “conflicted” himself out of the Clinton email case. Though he was not in charge at the onset of the investigation, and ultimately recused himself from its oversight, it is fair to feel that he should have exercised better judgment. Could he not have foreseen that his wife’s political activities and association with a former campaign chairman (McAuliffe) for both Bill’s (’96) and Hillary’s (’08) presidential campaigns would call into question the FBI’s impartiality and hard-earned apolitical reputation? He shouldn’t have gone anywhere near the Clinton case. Or, he should’ve asked his wife to put her political aspirations on hold until the Clinton case had been adjudicated or closed. This lapse in judgement just gives the perception of bias. And unfortunately, perception is reality. Someone with knowledge of the Clinton email investigation related that those assigned to the squad were continually reminded by Comey not to refer to the Clinton case as a “special,” for the very reason that precipitated my writing of this column. Comey’s concern was shared by a number of senior executives, who were acutely aware that a term construct like “FBI special” might be innocently misinterpreted. The more cynical worried it might be shrewdly wielded like a partisan cudgel to go after Clinton and severely damage the reputation of the FBI. That is just what occurred — but now you know better.



Clintons understated support from firm hired by Russian nuclear company
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/362234 ... ar-company
Category: Politics
Published: November 28, 2017

Description: The Clinton Foundation’s donor disclosure site vastly understated support that the Clinton Global Initiative received from APCO Worldwide, a global communications firm that lobbied on behalf of Russia’s state-owned nuclear company. The site, created to detect conflicts of interest for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of her family’s various charitable efforts, shows APCO gave between $25,000 and $50,000 over the last decade. But according to interviews and internal documents reviewed by The Hill, APCO was much more generous and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in pro-bono services and in-kind contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) between 2008 and 2016. For instance, an internal CGI document prepared in fall 2011 lists APCO’s in-kind contribution at $275,000 for that year alone. And APCO’s annual report on its global charitable efforts boasted of a large jump in support for CGI in 2011. “In 2011, APCO significantly increased its pro-bono support for CGI and, for the first time, our team managed the press around CGI’s America meeting, as well as its global Annual Meeting,” APCO stated in a report submitted to the United Nations Global Compact. The increase in the contributions came as APCO was paid $3 million in 2010 and 2011 to work for Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear company. Rosatom paid APCO to lobby the State Department and other federal agencies on behalf of its Tenex subsidiary, which sought to increase its commercial uranium sales in the United States. In 2010 and 2011, APCO made more than 50 contacts with federal and congressional figures for Tenex, including at least 10 at the State Department, its foreign agent disclosure reports show. APCO officials estimate their total cash support for CGI totaled $45,600 and their in-kind support to CGI exceeded $1 million since 2008. They also acknowledged that the firm’s pro-bono work increased significantly in 2011 while it worked for Tenex. But they insisted there was no connection between the professional and pro-bono work because separate units of the firm handled each. “APCO Worldwide’s activities involving client work on behalf of Tenex and The Clinton Global Initiative were totally separate and unconnected in any way,” Executive Chairwoman and Founder Margery Kraus wrote in a statement to The Hill. “All activities on these two unconnected activities were appropriate, publicly documented from the outset and consistent with regulations and the law. Any assertion otherwise is false, unfounded and a lie.” Hillary Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill told The Hill that the former secretary never met with APCO officials during her tenure and that no donations to her husband’s charitable effort ever influenced policy decisions inside State. He added that renewed interest in Russian nuclear policy during her tenure was simply “more of the right doing Trump’s bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security.” “At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits,” he said. Merrill referred questions about donor disclosures to the Clinton Foundation. Foundation officials insisted they never intended to hide APCO’s in-kind generosity, citing tweets and press releases and program acknowledgments that both organizations made between 2008 and 2016 about their collaborations. “The support of these and other sponsors, which has been widely disclosed through press releases, social media, promotional materials, and our website, has helped the Clinton Global Initiative improve the lives of over 435 million people in more than 180 countries around the world,” the Foundation said in a statement to The Hill. APCO Executive Director Kent Jarrell said his firm’s pro-bono work involved a corporate membership to provide free media support to CGI for its various events and activities as well as to the many non-governmental organizations that made charitable commitments under the Clinton brand. Jarrell said CGI received between 20 percent and 25 percent of all of the firm’s pro-bono generosity, and that the annual value grew as APCO invested more in global charitable efforts starting in 2010 when it joined the UN Global Compact. He declined to provide the annual amounts of in-kind support to CGI. The donor disclosure site was set up under a special ethics agreement when Clinton became President Obama’s secretary of State. It declared that CGI was a part of the Clinton Foundation, acknowledged that CGI commitments included “in-kind contributions” and said that all donors to the Foundation would be disclosed annually even as CGI was to be spun off into its own entity. “During any service by Senator Clinton as Secretary of State, the Foundation will publish annually the names of new contributors,” the December 2008 agreement stated. But Foundation officials told The Hill that when put into practice, the agreement did not include the disclosure of in-kind and pro-bono donations to CGI, in part because the IRS doesn’t treat them as reportable charitable revenues. Only cash contributions to CGI were reported, the officials said. While it did not disclose the in-kind donations on its disclosure site, CGI did monitor the value of such pro-bono services, its 2011 internal report shows. In fact, APCO at $275,000 was the second largest in-kind contributor in 2011 listed in the document; the French financial giant Credit Agricole topped the list with an estimated $1 million in free rent for CGI that year. Credit Agricole — which in 2015 paid more than $780 million to settle U.S. allegations it violated sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Burma — does not appear on the Clinton Foundation’s $1 million-plus donor disclosure list at all. But Foundation officials said the French firm’s generosity began in 2006, and like APCO, was acknowledged in various literature at events. They acknowledged the financial institution’s free rent saved CGI millions of dollars in expenses over the years. The fact that APCO’s support for CGI was undercounted could raise questions about the thoroughness of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s conflicts disclosures as well as the attractiveness of their foundation and of CGI to special interests seeking to curry favor with the State Department. Multiple congressional committees are planning to interview undercover FBI informant William Campbell about what he knows about Rosatom’s efforts to get the Obama administration to make it easier to win more commercial uranium sales inside the United States. Campbell helped the FBI uncover a massive racketeering scheme that included bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion that involved Tenex’s main official in the United States, Vadim Mikerin, and executives of an American trucking company that transported Russia’s uranium. They pled guilty to charges in 2015. Congressional Republicans won permission to interview Campbell after The Hill reported last month that the informant reported to the FBI the first illegal activities by Russian nuclear officials in November 2009, a year before the Obama administration began making a series of decisions favorable to Rosatom. The revelation has led Republicans to question whether the Obama administration ignored the evidence of criminal activity while making favorable decisions to Russia, and whether decisions helping Rosatom were influenced by personal speech fees paid to former President Bill Clinton and charitable donations to the CGI. Republicans have been particularly focused on the decision in 2010 by the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to approve the purchase by Rosatom’s ARMZ subsidiary of a Canadian mining company called Uranium One that had significant uranium assets inside the United States. APCO told The Hill it had nothing to do with the Uranium One transaction, and its lobbying disclosure reports make clear its work was focused on another part of Russia’s uranium ambitions: making it easier for Tenex to win commercial deals with American utilities to buy Russian uranium. APCO has never been accused of any wrongdoing in its dealings with Tenex, and it said it was never contacted by the FBI about its work for the Russian company. Summaries of Campbell’s debriefings with the FBI about the case did not allege any wrongdoing by the lobbying firm but did report on some of APCO's activities. Campbell’s lawyer told The Hill the former informant is prepared to testify to Congress as early as next month that he was told by top Russian officials that APCO was hired specifically because it had close connections to the Obama administration and the Clintons. “His Russian counterparts made clear to him they valued APCO’s connections to the Clinton Global Initiative and expected it to grow while the firm was working for Tenex,” attorney Victoria Toensing said. “And he reported those conversations back to the FBI.” APCO denies any such claim, telling The Hill that it approached Tenex and made a proposal for the work. It said the budget was not provided by Tenex but was negotiated after the scope of its work for the company was discussed. Recently released documents show Hillary Clinton and her top staff considered at least one APCO lobbyist, former career ambassador Elizabeth Jones, for two top jobs. “At Friday's meeting, Hillary made clear Beth Jones was her first choice for Ambassador to Iraq. Since I don't know her, we agreed that I should meet with her today or tomorrow,” then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote Clinton confidant John Podesta in a 2009 email later published on WikiLeaks. Emails released under FOIA in recent days to the conservative watchdog group Citizens United show Clinton’s top aides successfully vetted her in 2011 to become a special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Between spring 2010 and fall 2011, APCO was paid approximately $3 million from Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to make the case for expanded Russian uranium business inside federal agencies and Congress, according to the contract it disclosed in its foreign agent disclosure reports to the Justice Department and its lobbying disclosure reports to the U.S. Senate. The firm made more than 50 contacts with federal and congressional figures, including 10 involving senior officials inside Clinton’s State Department, the records show. The contacts ranged from “promoting US-Russian civilian nuclear partnership” to attempts at freeing Russia from “anti-dumping” restrictions imposed on its uranium business. The lobbying firm also helped promote a U.S. visit in 2011 by former Russian Prime Minister Sergey Kirienko, the then-top official at Rosatom, the records show. Several contacts were with House and Senate Republicans whom the Russians worried were cool or distrustful of expanded nuclear cooperation with Moscow. Two of the lobbyists on the account had worked previously in national security positions inside George W. Bush’s administration, the records show. Though its client was Tenex, APCO officials told The Hill that the company had little contact with Mikerin, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to a corruption charge stemming from the FBI bribery probe. Jarrell said APCO had only a couple of brief encounters with Mikerin and that the firm mostly dealt with his bosses back in Russia. Mikerin was tasked with forming Tenex’s new American office called Tenam. APCO’s lobbying records show the firm helped create a Web site for Tenam and a press release announcing the new American subsidiary. An invite list Campbell provided to the FBI also shows a couple of APCO executives attended the grand opening celebration of Tenam’s office in suburban Washington in October 2010. APCO officials said they were hired to clear the way for progress around Obama administration decisions that included restoring the civilian cooperation agreement and freeing the Russian state-controlled company from Cold War-era export restrictions. They were also to allay concerns inside Congress about Russia growing its uranium business inside the United States. This all took place as as Obama and Secretary Clinton made a stab at thawing relations with Russia as part of the “reset” strategy. “Tenex was the single largest supplier of U.S. energy through the 'megatons for megawatts' agreement of the 1990s. The pending expiration of that agreement and the scale of the market opportunity in the U.S. (exemplified by the Obama Administration’s decision to extend loan guarantees) meant that Tenex would need to compete in a new market on standard commercial terms,” APCO’s Kraus said in her statement to The Hill. Between 2010 and 2012, Rosatom reported in its annual reports that it had scored more than $10 billion in new uranium sales agreements with U.S firms during the "reset.”



Congressional investigators find irregularities in FBI's handling of Clinton email case
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... andling-of
Category: Politics
Published: January 2, 2018

Description: Republicans on key congressional committees say they have uncovered new irregularities and contradictions inside the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server. For the first time, investigators say they have secured written evidence that the FBI believed there was evidence that some laws were broken when the former secretary of State and her top aides transmitted classified information through her insecure private email server, lawmakers and investigators told The Hill. That evidence includes passages in FBI documents stating the “sheer volume” of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case, the investigators said. The name of the witness is redacted from the FBI documents but lawmakers said he was an employee of a computer firm that helped maintain her personal server after she left office as America’s top diplomat and who belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress. The investigators also confirmed that the FBI began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton of any crimes while evidence responsive to subpoenas was still outstanding and before agents had interviewed more than a dozen key witnesses. Those witnesses included Clinton and the computer firm employee who permanently erased her email archives just days after the emails were subpoenaed by Congress, the investigators said. Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee who attended a Dec. 21 closed-door briefing by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe say the bureau official confirmed that the investigation and charging decisions were controlled by a small group in Washington headquarters rather the normal process of allowing field offices to investigate possible criminality in their localities. The Clinton email server in question was based in New York. In normal FBI cases, field offices where crimes are believed to have been committed investigate the evidence and then recommend to bureau hierarchy whether to pursue charges with prosecutors. In this case, the bureau hierarchy controlled both the investigation and the charging decision from Washington, a scenario known in FBI parlance as a “special,” the lawmakers said. The FBI declined comment on McCabe’s closed-door testimony and the evidence being shared with Congress. Some Republicans on the committee say the findings and revelations have left them more convinced than ever that FBI leadership rigged the outcome to clear Clinton. “This was an effort to pre-bake the cake, pre-bake the outcome,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a House Judiciary Committee member who attended the McCabe briefing before the holidays. “Hillary Clinton obviously benefited from people taking actions to ensure she wasn’t held accountable.” Gaetz said he could not divulge the specifics of what McCabe told lawmakers, but that he left the Dec. 21 session believing the FBI had deviated from its “normal objective practices” while investigating Clinton. The top Democrat on the panel acknowledged the FBI’s handling of the case was unique, but argued Republicans are politicizing their own panel’s work. “To the extent that the Assistant Director of the FBI was involved in that investigation, and recognizing that the investigation itself presented a unique set of circumstances, his testimony did not raise any concerns that would justify the Republicans’ outsized obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails two years after the fact,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) who recently took over as the top Democrat on House Judiciary after former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) stepped aside after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him. Gaetz said he has growing questions about the role the Obama Justice Department played in the case. Former FBI Director James Comey has testified he made the decision not to seek criminal charges against Clinton — with no Justice Department input — because he feared any involvement from the department might taint the findings after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton on a tarmac during the closing days of the probe in June 2016. He also argued in an initial July 5, 2016, press conference announcing the decision that he did not believe he could show that Clinton intended to send classified information over her server. But Gaetz said his panel has evidence the FBI took actions while writing the exoneration statement that required Justice input, such as immunizing witnesses in June 2016. He said he would like to learn more about what instructions, sentiments and communications were conveyed between the department and the FBI. “I think we have more questions than answers based on what we’ve learned,” Gaetz said. Both parties are likely to learn more in the first quarter of 2018 when the Justice Department inspector general is expected to release initial findings in what has become a wide-ranging probe into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case as well as whether agents and supervisors had political connections, ethical conflicts or biases that affected their work. In the meantime, Republicans on three House committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee have pieced together new evidence from recent interviews and document productions. That information wasn’t available to them when Comey announced in July 2016 that he would not seek charges against Clinton even though she and her aides had transmitted more than 110 pieces of classified information through her insecure email server, some of it at the “top secret” and “secret” levels. One storyline that has emerged is that the FBI’s own documents stated there was evidence some laws had been broken, but bureau leaders declined to pursue charges on the grounds they could not prove Clinton and her aides intended to violate the law. Those concerns were reflected in the initial draft statements Comey and his leadership team began writing in spring 2016. The Hill first reported in November that Comey’s original May 2, 2016, draft included the words “grossly negligent” — the language supporting a criminal charge for mishandling classified information — but it was later changed to the softer “extremely careless.” GOP congressional investigators told The Hill multiple drafts of the statement also included specific language acknowledging there was “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information.” Furthermore, the May 2, 2016, draft included a second passage that suggested the large amount of highly classified information — eight top secret passages and 37 secret passages — that passed through Clinton’s private server suggested criminality. “The sheer volume of information that was properly classified as Secret at the time it was discussed on email (that is, excluding the “up classified” emails) supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information,” the FBI’s original draft read, according to a source who has seen it. Comey used some of the language the agents had put in the initial drafts of the memo when he made his announcement of no charges. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said. The FBI also confirmed that a key witness, a computer technician who deleted Clinton emails from her server in March 2015 after a congressional subpoena had been issued for them, originally lied to the FBI during his interviews, memos show. The witness's name was redacted from documents released by the FBI but he was identified as an employee of a computer firm that helped maintained Clinton’s email server. His admission of false statements came one day after the Comey statement was already being drafted, investigators told The Hill. The computer employee originally told the FBI in a February 2016 interview that he did not recall making any deletions from Clinton’s server in March 2015, FBI records show. But then on May 3, 2016, the same employee in a subsequent FBI interview told agents he had an “oh shit moment” and in late March 2015 deleted Clinton’s email archive from the server, according to FBI documents reviewed by The Hill. Lying to the FBI is a federal felony, a crime that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn recently pleaded guilty to. But the FBI decided not to pursue criminal charges against the witness, and instead gave the technician an immunity deal so he could correct his story, congressional investigators said. Republican investigators say the most glaring irregularity they have found is the decision to begin drafting a statement exonerating Clinton before much of the investigative interviewing and evidence gathering was even done. While the first draft of the statement was dated May 2, 2016, FBI records gathered by congressional investigators show agents were still receiving evidence responsive to grand jury subpoenas well after that, including documents and other evidentiary items logged on May 13, May 19 and May 26. A House GOP lawmaker told The Hill his staff also has identified at least a dozen interviews that were conducted after the drafting effort began, including of some figures who would have key information about intent or possible destruction of evidence. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) staff has a higher number: 17 witnesses including Clinton were interviewed after the decision was already made. “Making a conclusion before you interview key fact witnesses and the subject herself violates the very premise of good investigation. You don't lock into a theory until you have the facts. Here the evidence that isn't public yet shows they locked into the theory and then edited out the facts that contradicted it,” the GOP lawmaker said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the documents are not yet authorized for release. A senior law enforcement official directly familiar with the investigation, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, told The Hill that the FBI “did have evidence of statutory violations” but the decision not to prosecute was driven by a belief that there wasn’t enough proof Clinton and aides intended to violate those laws or even knew they were violating them. The official also acknowledged evidence gathering continued even as Comey began drafting the public statement, including the execution of an immunity deal on June 10, 2016, with Clinton advisers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson that resulted in laptops with evidence being turned over to agents late in the probe. “The leadership had a sense of where the evidence was likely headed and the idea was they would begin drafting their conclusions and if we found anything that changed that sense we’d alert them,” the official said. The official said the decision to grant immunity to the Clinton advisers as well as the computer technician involved in the email deletions was made “with the idea it would be better to know all the circumstances” before the case was closed out. Comey has told Congress he made the decision not to charge Clinton after she was interviewed on July 2, 2016. Congressional investigators told The Hill they also have found some contradictions between the FBI’s official account of what happened and what more recently released documents show. One that is being pursued aggressively by Grassley involves whether the FBI actually investigated possible violations of the Federal Records Act, which required the preservation of all of Clinton’s work-related emails. The FBI admits it recovered thousands of State emails that originated or passed through Clinton’s private server — some which had been deleted — that were never turned over to the State Department as government records by Clinton’s team. While the FBI believed none of those were deleted intentionally to keep them from the government, the Records Act allows for a misdemeanor charge in each instance where a government document is destroyed carelessly, investigators said. Comey told Grassley back in 2016 that the FBI did investigate whether the unlawful destruction of federal records occurred. But Grassley’s staff has now obtained a sworn affidavit from an FBI agent that directly contradicts the former director’s assurance. The agent testified under penalty of perjury that the Clinton email case did not address the destruction of federal records, Grassley said. The longtime Senate chairman went to the Senate floor before the holidays to raise another concern: the FBI did not pursue criminal charges when Clinton’s email archives were permanently deleted from her private server days after a subpoena for them was issued by a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The deletion occurred on the same day Clinton’s former chief of staff and her lawyer had a call with the computer firm that handled the erasure using an anti-recovery software called BleachBit, Grassley said. “You have a conference call with Secretary Clinton’s attorneys on March 31, 2015, and on that very same day her emails are deleted by someone who was on that conference call using special BleachBit software,” Grassley said. “The emails were State Department records under subpoena by Congress. “What did the FBI do to investigate this apparent obstruction?” Grassley asked. “According to affidavits filed in federal court — absolutely nothing. The FBI focused only on the handling of classified information.”



Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/international ... eal-report
Category: Legal
Published: January 14, 2018

Description: A grand jury reportedly brought charges in the Uranium One investigation against a man who investigators say tried to bribe a Russian official at the country's state-run nuclear energy corporation. Mark Lambert, former head of a Maryland-based transportation company, was indicted last Thursday on 11 counts of money laundering and wire fraud, according to the New York Post. The Uranium One investigation centers on the Obama administration's clearing of a business deal that gave a Russian company control of 20 percent of America's uranium industry. In the indictment, prosecutors accuse Lambert of hiding the payments to the Russian official by using code words such as “lucky figures,” “lucky numbers” and “cake.” The official Lambert was accused of bribing works at a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corp. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Congress in 2010 that no uranium at either facility purchased by the Russian company could be exported. Still, some of the uranium mined after the deal made it as far away as Europe, The Hill reported in November. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said at the time that it was "disturbing" to see that some of the yellowcake uranium had made its way overseas despite promises from the U.S. government to the contrary. The more that surfaces about this deal, the more questions it raises," Grassley said in a statement. "It now appears that despite pledges to the contrary, U.S. uranium made its way overseas as a part of the Uranium One deal," Grassley said in the statement. "What’s more disturbing, those transactions were apparently made possible by various Obama Administration agencies while the Democrat-controlled Congress turned a blind eye."



Uranium One informant makes Clinton allegations to Congress
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... -testimony
Category: Politics
Published: February 7, 2018

Description: An FBI informant connected to the Uranium One controversy told three congressional committees in a written statement that Moscow routed millions of dollars to America with the expectation it would be used to benefit Bill Clinton's charitable efforts while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quarterbacked a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations. The informant, Douglas Campbell, said in the statement obtained by The Hill that he was told by Russian nuclear executives that Moscow had hired the American lobbying firm APCO Worldwide specifically because it was in position to influence the Obama administration, and more specifically Hillary Clinton. Democrats have cast doubt on Campbell’s credibility, setting the stage for a battle with Republicans over his testimony. Campbell added in the testimony that Russian nuclear officials “told me at various times that they expected APCO to apply a portion of the $3 million annual lobbying fee it was receiving from the Russians to provide in-kind support for the Clintons' Global Initiative." “The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement." APCO officials told The Hill that its support for the Clinton Global Initiative and its work with Russia were not connected in any way, and in fact involved different divisions of the firm. They added their lobbying for Russia did not involve Uranium One but rather focused on regulatory issues aimed at helping Russia better compete for nuclear fuel contracts inside the United States. “APCO Worldwide’s activities involving client work on behalf of Tenex and The Clinton Global Initiative were totally separate and unconnected in any way,” APCO told The Hill in a statement. “All actions on these two unconnected activities were appropriate, publicly documented from the outset and consistent with regulations and the law. Any assertion otherwise is false and unfounded.” Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton, said Campbell’s account is simply being used to distract from the investigations into President Trump and Russian election meddling. “Just yesterday the committee made clear that this secret informant charade was just that, a charade. Along with the widely debunked text-message-gate and Nunes' embarrassing memo episode, we have a trifecta of GOP-manufactured scandals designed to distract from their own President's problems and the threat to democracy he poses,” Merrill said. In addition to his written statement, Campbell on Wednesday was interviewed for several hours behind closed doors by staff from both parties on the Senate Judiciary, the House Intelligence and the House Oversight and Government Reform committees. Democrats have asked that a transcript of the interview be released to the public, but a court reporter was not present for the interview and Campbell was not sworn in. Republicans are seeking to use Campbell’s account to expand their investigations beyond the 2016 election and Trump to possible questions about Russian graft during the Obama administration. They note that the FBI found Campbell’s undercover work valuable enough to reward him with a $50,000 check in 2016. Democrats, in turn, have accused Republicans of making “wild claims” about Campbell and Uranium One. In a letter sent this week, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that Justice Department officials told both parties during a briefing in December that they ultimately found they “could not trust” Campbell when he was working as an FBI informant. Justice officials also said that Campbell had at no point made “any allegations of corruption, illegality, or impropriety on Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton, the Uranium One deal, or [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States],” according to the Democrats. “They also confirmed that there were 'no allegations of impropriety or illegality' regarding Secretary Clinton in any of the documents they reviewed,” the Democrats said. Campbell painted a different picture in his written statement. He accused Obama administration officials of making decisions that ended up benefitting the Russian nuclear industry, which he said was seeking to build a monopoly in the global uranium market to help President Vladimir Putin seek a geopolitical advantage over the United States. The United States already imports more than 90 percent of the uranium it uses in nuclear reactors, according to U.S. government figures from 2016. Campbell wrote that Russian nuclear executives “boasted” during vodka-fueled meetings monitored by the FBI about “how weak the U.S. government was in giving away uranium business and were confident that Russia would secure the strategic advantage it was seeking in the U.S. uranium market.” He also said he asked his FBI handlers why the U.S. was not more aggressive. “I expressed these concerns repeatedly to my FBI handlers. The response I got was that politics was somehow involved,” he stated. Much of the GOP’s interest in Campbell’s story centers on the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal. That deal at the time gave the Russian mining giant Rosatom control of roughly 20 percent of America’s capacity to mine uranium. The deal was approved unanimously in 2010 by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a multi-agency board that includes the State Department, the Defense Department and the Justice Department, among other agencies. The board has the power to block deals that threaten national security. Campbell, whose work as an informant was first disclosed in a series of stories published last fall by The Hill, helped the FBI gather evidence as early as 2009 that the Russian nuclear industry was engaged in a kickback, bribery and racketeering scheme on U.S. soil. The criminal scheme, among other things, compromised the U.S. trucking firm that had the sensitive job of transporting uranium around America, Campbell testified. Campbell says he provided the FBI the evidence of wrongdoing months before the Obama administration approved a series of favorable decisions that enriched Rosatom, including the CFIUS decision. The Hill’s stories last fall prompted the Justice Department to take the rare step of freeing Campbell from his nondisclosure agreement as an intelligence asset so he could testify to Congress about what he witnessed inside Russia’s nuclear industry. Campbell gave the congressional committees documents he said he provided to his FBI handlers in 2010 showing that the Russian and American executives implicated in the Tenex bribery scheme specifically asked him to try to help get the Uranium One deal approved by the Obama administration. “In 2010, officials inside Tenex became interested in helping another Rosatom subsidiary, ARMZ, win Obama administration approval to purchase Uranium One, a Canadian company with massive Kazakh and large U.S. uranium assets,” Campbell said. “Although Tenex and ARMZ are separate subsidiaries, Tenex had its own interest in Uranium One. Tenex would become responsible for finding commercial markets and revenue for those uranium assets once they were mined." “The emails and documents I intercepted during 2010 made clear that Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One — for both its Kazakh and American assets — was part of Russia’s geopolitical strategy to gain leverage in global energy markets,” he testified. “I obtained documentary proof that Tenex was helping Rosatom win CFIUS approval, including an October 6, 2010 email … asking me specifically to help overcome opposition to the Uranium One deal.” Campbell told lawmakers the purchase of the Uranium One assets and the securing of billions of new uranium sales contracts inside the United States during the Obama years were part of the “Russian uranium dominance strategy.” “The importance of the Uranium One decision to Tenex was made clear by the fact that the Russian government directed Mikerin to open a new U.S. office for Tenex and to create a new American entity called Tenam in early October 2010, just weeks before Rosatom and ARMZ won the Obama administration approval to buy Uranium One,” he said. “Rosatom/Tenex threw a party to celebrate, which was widely attended by American nuclear industry officials. At the request of the FBI, I attended and recorded video footage of Tenam’s new offices,” he added. Campbell’s written statement covered a wide array of activities he conducted under the FBI’s direction, ranging from a failed sting effort to lure Putin to the United States to gathering evidence that Russia was “helping Iran build its nuclear capability.” Campbell provided Congress an April 16, 2010, memo he said he wrote and gave to the FBI that spelled out in detail the Russian efforts to aid Iran. “Tenex continues to supply Iran fuel through their Russian company,” Campbell wrote in that 2010 document obtained by The Hill, naming the specific company that was being used to help. “They continue to assist with construction consult [sic] and fabricated assemblies to supply the reactor. Fabricated assemblies require sophisticated engineering and are arranged inside the reactor with the help and consult” of Russians. “The final fabricators to Iran are being flown by Russian air transport due to the sensitive nature of the equipment,” his 2010 memo to the FBI added. Campbell told lawmakers he also gave the FBI “documentary proof that officials in Moscow were obtaining restricted copies of IAEA compliance reports on Iranian nuclear inspections, a discovery that appeared to deeply concern my handlers.” While most of his account involved intelligence matters, Campbell also briefly described the toll years of undercover work took on him personally. He continued informing through a bout with brain cancer, a case of leukemia and battles with excessive drinking, he told lawmakers. He also was never reimbursed for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he used of his own money to make bribe payments under the FBI’s direction to the Russians to facilitate his cover. But Campbell said he was gratified when the FBI in 2016 gave him a $50,000 reward check celebrating his undercover work, directly answering Democrats criticisms that federal prosecutors didn’t trust him as a witness. “My FBI handlers praised my work. They told me on various occasions that details from the undercover probe had been briefed directly to FBI top officials. On two occasions my handlers were particularly excited, claiming that my undercover work had been briefed to President Obama as part of his daily presidential briefing,” he said. In the end, though, he told lawmakers he remains disturbed that the Obama administration made so many favorable decisions benefiting the Russian nuclear industry when the evidence of wrongdoing and ill intent was so extensive. “I was frustrated watching the U.S. government make numerous decisions benefiting Rosatom and Tenex while those entities were engaged in serious criminal conduct on U.S. soil,” he wrote. “Tenex and Rosatom were raking in billions of U.S. dollars by signing contracts with American nuclear utility clients at the same time they were indulging in extortion by using threats to get bribes and kickbacks, with a portion going to Russia for high ranking officials.” He said he never got a satisfactory answer from the FBI. “I remember one response I got from an agent when I asked how it was possible CFIUS would approve the Uranium One sale when the FBI could prove Rosatom was engaged in criminal conduct. His answer: ‘Ask your politics,’ ” Campbell said.



Russian uranium informant says FBI sought new information from him about the Clintons
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/37 ... -him-about
Category: Politics
Published: March 22, 2018

Description: An undercover informant who helped the FBI prove Russia’s uranium industry engaged in criminal activity says congressional Democrats’ recent attacks on his credibility were insulting to his medical disability and ignored the fact that agents recently asked him for fresh testimony about former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton. In his first on-camera interview, William Douglas Campbell told The Hill he was interviewed for about five hours in December by FBI agents from Little Rock, Ark., who were investigating whether donations to the Clintons’s charitable empire were used to influence U.S. nuclear policy during the Obama years. Campbell said he was asked specifically about whether donations to the Clintons charitable efforts were used to influence U.S. nuclear policy during the Obama year, and that agents questioned him extensively about claims the Russians made to him that they had routed millions of dollars to an American lobbying firm in 2010 and 2011 with the expectation it would be used to help President Clinton's charitable global initiative while major uranium decisions were pending before Hillary Clinton's State Department. "They were looking into the Clintons, and the information that I provided to them about the Clintons and about what was said and confirmed by Russian leadership seemed to be very important to them,” Campbell said, appearing in shadow during the interview to protect his identity. Spokesmen for the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton did not return calls Thursday seeking comment. The Clintons have long denied donations influenced any policies. Campbell worked as an FBI undercover informant from 2008 through 2014 inside Russia’s nuclear industry, helping to uncover a bribery, kickback, money laundering and extortion scheme that sent several Russian and U.S. executives to prison. He was summoned for a closed-door congressional interview last month by Republicans, who believe the criminal wrongdoing Campbell uncovered should have stopped the Obama administration from approving the sale of the Uranium One mining firm and billions of dollars in U.S. nuclear fuel contracts to Russia. House Democrats issued a blistering memo attacking Campbell’s credibility, saying he couldn’t identify specific crimes committed by the Clintons and suffered from memory lapses that required him to rely on written notes. Campbell dismissed the Democrats’ attacks as partisan. “I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. I’m not an independent. I am a damn American,” he said. “I'd like to remind those Democratic staff members who wrote that interview summary that none of 'em have ever worked undercover as a confidential informant … and put themselves in clear and present danger with Russian criminals who are breaking U.S. law." Campbell said the Democrats’ criticism smacked of hypocrisy, because they knew in advance he suffered memory problems from a brain tumor. “I can remember them running on an American disabilities [platform] wheeling people in wheelchairs and people that were having issues like I was having in and talking about how sacred that was to the Democratic Party. And hell, they’re mocking me?” he said. “It’s not right.” Spokesman for Democrats on the House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, who wrote the Campbell memo, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Campbell also disputed allegations by anonymous Justice officials and Democrats that while undercover he may have engaged in illegal payments with the Russians without approval. He said Moscow asked him to pay $25,000 in 2010 to hire a consultant to train him on nuclear issues and that his FBI handlers “sanctioned and were aware that I was transferring those monies.” When the Russians didn’t provide the consulting and asked for more money, the agents recognized it was a kickback scheme and authorized him to keep making payments so they could make a criminal case, he said. He dismissed suggestions he lacked credibility, noting the FBI recently asked him for fresh information and paid him a $51,000 reward in 2016. "I was embraced and told what a good job I had done," he said.



IG releases report faulting fired FBI official McCabe
The Hill

URL: http://thehill.com/policy/national-secu ... lp-himself
Category: Politics
Published: April 13, 2018

Description: The Department of Justice’s inspector general concluded that fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe made a leak to the media “designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership,” according to a copy of the report obtained by The Hill. The report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz makes the case that McCabe authorized disclosures to the media that were designed to combat the perception that he had a conflict of interest in overseeing dual FBI investigations related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “We concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” Horowitz wrote. McCabe has disputed the charges as politically motivated. His attorney responded immediately on Friday that the report “utterly failed to support the decision to terminate Mr. McCabe.” Michael Bromwich, McCabe’s attorney, also blasted the process by which he was terminated as “unprecedented, unseemly and cruel.” The press disclosures in question were made to Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett shortly after he wrote a story detailing political donations from Clinton ally and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to the failed state Senate campaign of McCabe’s wife, Jill. At the time, the story created a political uproar about McCabe’s impartiality. In response to follow-up questions from Barrett, McCabe authorized two officials to discuss with Barrett “issues related to the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation.” The disclosure — which was made by staff for McCabe — recounted McCabe’s version of a conversation with a Justice Department official about the investigation, in which McCabe says he pushed back on concerns about FBI agents taking “overt steps” during the presidential campaign. “Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly-predicated investigation,” McCabe says he said. According to the Horowitz report, the disclosures were in part designed “to rebut a narrative that … questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and claimed that McCabe had ordered the termination of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation due to Department of Justice pressure.” The disclosure to Barrett, the report states, “effectively confirmed the existence” of the Clinton Foundation investigation — something then-Director James Comey was at that point refusing to do. According to the report, McCabe said that he did not view the disclosures to Barrett as confirming the existence of the investigation because the purpose was to demonstrate the FBI’s independence and “there really wasn’t any discussion of the case, of the merits of the case, the targets and subjects of the case.” At the time, Republicans were concerned that the Obama-era Justice Department, led by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, was putting pressure on the bureau to shut down the Clinton probes. Barrett, according to the report, had sources who were telling him McCabe had given an order to “stand down” on the investigation. The IG found McCabe’s rationale for the disclosure unpersuasive. “Had McCabe’s primary concern actually been to reassure the public that the FBI was pursuing the [Clinton Foundation] investigation despite the anonymous claims in the article, the way that the FBI and the Department would usually accomplish that goal is through a public statement reassuring the public that the FBI is investigating the matter,” it reads. After the story ran, the report states, McCabe led Comey to believe that he had not authorized the disclosures that lead to Barrett’s story and did not know who did. He allegedly made the same statement to internal investigators when questioned under oath months later. “I don’t remember exactly how, but I remember some form or fashion and it could have been like ‘can you believe this crap? How does this stuff get out’ kind of thing?” Comey told investigators. “But I took from whatever communication we had that he wasn’t involved in it.” According to McCabe, he told Comey that he had authorized the phone call with Barrett — something that as deputy director, he had the inherent authority to do if it was in the public interest. “We found it extremely unlikely, as McCabe now claims, that he not only told Comey about his decision to authorize the disclosure, but that Comey thought it was a ‘good’ idea for McCabe to have taken that action,” the report states, noting that at the time McCabe authorized the disclosure and says he informed Comey, the issue of his recusal from the investigation was being discussed internally. According to Horowitz’s report, McCabe also gave conflicting accounts to the inspector general’s investigators, at one point correcting a testimony to say that he believed he “may have authorized” the two officials to speak to Barrett, after he learned that the IG had texts messages that would “enable the OIG to soon learn the truth.” McCabe’s lawyer in his statement said that “at all times, [McCabe] told the truth to the best of his ability.” “This allegation is built on the shaky foundation of the allegations that he lacked candor in his dealings with Director Comey, [the FBI’s Inspection Division], and the OIG. What is entirely missing from the OIG’s report is any evidence of a motive for Mr. McCabe to do anything but tell the truth about this matter." The main finding in the report — lack of candor related to the Wall Street Journal disclosures — was already publicly known, although it fleshes out further details. It reveals that McCabe on Nov. 1 — just days before the election — recused himself from both the Clinton Foundation investigation and the investigation into Clinton’s private email server, which had been effectively reopened just days before. At that point, according to the IG report, Comey had excluded McCabe from a phone call related to a new tranche of Clinton emails found days before the election, “out of an abundance of caution because of appearance issues” following the story about McCabe’s wife. In a separate letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Horowitz also revealed that his investigation into McCabe’s misconduct did not originate as part of the IG’s broader review into department decision-making during the 2016 election. Instead, Horowitz says, it arose from a referral from the FBI’s Inspection Division, an internal watchdog responsible for maintaining the integrity of its investigations. McCabe was dismissed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March after the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility found that the 20-year veteran made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and "lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions." President Trump immediately celebrated the report on Twitter, tweeting that the findings are a “total disaster.” “He LIED! LIED! LIED! McCabe was totally controlled by Comey - McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!” Republican lawmakers like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) followed suit, publicly praising Horowitz's report.



The case for Russia collusion … against the Democrats
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house ... -democrats
Category: Politics
Published: February 10, 2019

Description: Now that both the House and Senate investigative committees have cleared Donald Trump of Democrat-inspired allegations of Russian collusion, it is worth revisiting one anecdote that escaped significant attention during the hysteria but continues to have U.S. security implications. As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-President Dmitri Medvedev, to create U.S. technology partnerships with Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley, a sprawling high-tech campus known as Skolkovo. Clinton’s handprint was everywhere on the 2009-2010 project, the tip of a diplomatic spear to reboot U.S.-Russian relations after years of hostility prompted by Vladimir Putin’s military action against the former Soviet republic and now U.S. ally, Georgia. A donor to the Clinton Foundation, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, led the Russian side of the effort, and several American donors to the Clinton charity got involved. Clinton’s State Department facilitated U.S. companies working with the Russian project, and she personally invited Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley. The collaboration occurred at the exact same time Bill Clinton made his now infamous trip to Russia to pick up a jaw-dropping $500,000 check for a single speech. The former president’s trip secretly raised eyebrows inside his wife’s State Department, internal emails show. That’s because he asked permission to meet Vekselberg, the head of Skolkovo, and Arkady Dvorkovich, a senior official of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear giant seeking State’s permission to buy Uranium One, a Canadian company with massive U.S. uranium reserves. Years later, intelligence documents show, both the Skolkovo and Uranium One projects raised serious security concerns. In 2013, the U.S. military’s leading intelligence think tank in Europe sounded alarm that the Skolkovo project might be a front for economic and military espionage. “Skolkovo is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to promote technology transfer generally, by inbound direct investment, and occasionally, through selected acquisitions. As such, Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage — with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently,” EUCOM’s intelligence bulletin wrote in 2013. “Implicit in Russia’s development of Skolkovo is a critical question — a question that Russia may be asking itself — why bother spying on foreign companies and government laboratories if they will voluntarily hand over all the expertise Russia seeks?” A year later, the FBI went further and sent letters warning several U.S. technology companies that had become entangled with Skolkovo that they risked possible espionage. And an agent in the bureau’s Boston office wrote an extraordinary op-ed to publicize the alarm. Skolkovo “may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application,”Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote in the Boston Business Journal. The FBI had equal concern about Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One. An informer named William Douglas Campbell had gotten inside the Russian nuclear giant in 2009 and gathered evidence that Rosatom’s agents in the United States were engaged in a racketeering scheme involving kickbacks, extortion and bribery. Campbell also obtained written evidence that Putin wanted to buy Uranium One as part of a strategy to obtain monopolistic domination of the global uranium markets, including leverage over the U.S. Campbell also warned a major in-kind donor to the Clinton Global Initiative was simultaneously working for Rosatom while the decision for U.S. approval was pending before Hillary Clinton’s department. Ultimately, her department and the Obama administration approved the transaction. The evidence shows the Clintons financially benefited from Russia — personally and inside their charity — at the same time they were involved in U.S. government actions that rewarded Moscow and increased U.S. security risks. The intersections between the Clintons, the Democrats and Russia carried into 2016, when a major political opposition research project designed to portray GOP rival Donald Trump as compromised by Moscow was launched by Clinton’s presidential campaign and brought to the FBI. Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS research firm was secretly hired by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party through their law firm, Perkins Coie. Simpson then hired retired British intelligence operative Christopher Steele — whom the FBI learned was “desperate” to defeat Trump — to write an unverified dossier suggesting that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the election. Simpson, Steele and Perkins Coie all walked Trump-Russia related allegations into the FBI the summer before the election, prompting agents who openly disliked Trump to launch a counterintelligence probe of the GOP nominee shortly before Election Day. Simpson and Steele also went to the news media to air the allegations in what senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr would later write was a “Hail Mary” effort to influence the election. Congressional investigators have painstakingly pieced together evidence that shows the Clinton research project had extensive contact with Russians. Ohr’s notes show that Steele’s main source of uncorroborated allegations against Trump came from an ex-Russian intelligence officer. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr scribbled. Steele’s dossier also relied on information from a Belarus-born Russian businessman, according to numerous reports and a book on the Russia scandal. Steele and Simpson had Russian-tied business connections, too, while they formulated the dossier. Steele worked for the lawyers for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and tried to leverage those connections to help the FBI get evidence from the Russian aluminum magnate against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The effort resulted in FBI agents visiting Deripaska in fall 2016. Deripaska told the agents that no collusion existed. Likewise, Simpson worked in 2016 for the Russian company Prevezon — which was trying to escape U.S. government penalties — and one of its Russian lawyers, Natalia Veselnitskaya. In sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Simpson admitted he dined with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after her infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016. Simpson insists the two dinners sandwiching one of the seminal events in the Trump collusion narrative had nothing to do with the Trump Tower meeting, a claim many Republicans distrust. Whatever the case, there’s little doubt the main instigators of the Clinton-inspired allegations against Trump got information from Russians and were consorting with them during the political opposition project. This past week, we learned from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) that his committee came to the same conclusion as the House: There is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But now there is growing evidence — of Democratic connections to Russia. It’s enough that former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) believes a probe should be opened. There is “obvious collusion the Democrats had through Glenn Simpson and through Fusion GPS, that they were talking directly to Russia,” Nunes told Hill.TV’s "Rising" in an interview to be aired Monday. Collusion can be criminal if it involves conspiracy to break federal laws, or it can involve perfectly legal, unwitting actions that still jeopardize America’s security against a “frenemy” like Russia. There is clear evidence now that shows Hillary Clinton’s family and charity profited from Moscow and simultaneously facilitated official government actions benefiting Russia that have raised security concerns. And there’s irrefutable evidence that her opposition research effort on Trump — one that inspired an FBI probe — was carried out by people who got information from Russia and were consorting with Russians. It would seem those questions deserve at least some of the scrutiny afforded the Trump-Russia collusion inquiry that is now two-plus years old.



McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house ... p-rolls-on
Category: Politics
Published: February 17, 2019

Description: Disgraced former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has provided clear evidence that in 2017 a small cabal of high-level officials inside the Department of Justice (DOJ) weighed whether to attempt to remove the duly-elected president of the United States. McCabe claims that he and others at the top of the FBI and DOJ held multiple discussions about invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to declare President Trump unfit for office and install the vice president in his place. Is this proof that a rolling bloodless coup really existed within the government? McCabe himself previously provided false information to the DOJ, for which he was unceremoniously fired, rendering any statements he now makes while promoting his book highly suspect. But, given the underpinnings of the entire Russia collusion investigation and what we know now about its early steps, McCabe’s statements ring disturbingly true. The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for a way to remove a president who is unable to perform the duties of the office. (This is different from impeachment, the proscribed method to remove a president for misconduct.) The vice president and a majority of cabinet officers must agree, in writing, that the president is unable to discharge the duties of the office. There is no provision for law enforcement — the FBI, lawyers at DOJ, or someone such as Andy McCabe — to force a president from office. Discussions on how, or whether, to attempt to exercise the 25th Amendment in this way is truly indicative of a coup mentality by career bureaucrats. It is hard to explain this kind of attitude except in the rankest of political contexts. McCabe’s claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was part of this coup attempt are shocking. The deputy AG makes innumerable decisions every day that impact a massive number of issues; practically every decision the federal government makes requires his approval if it implicates legal or constitutional issues. That any person in that position would consider wearing a wire to obtain evidence against the sitting president, based upon thin allegations contained in the dossier ex-British spy Christopher Steele produced for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, should frighten every American. Though McCabe’s veracity is questionable, it does seem unlikely any serious deputy attorney general would joke about such matters. McCabe claims that he and others believed they were working for a president who might have conspired with Russia to betray this country. There must not be one scintilla of evidence of this; otherwise, special counsel Robert Mueller surely would have taken steps long before now to rid the nation of such a dangerous commander-in-chief. It apparently has not occurred to McCabe that he looks cowardly if he really believed the president was conspiring with a foreign government in a way that compromised his loyalty to this country. And yet, McCabe blithely went about meeting with the president, continued to do his normal work, and said nothing about it publicly. Is it reasonable to believe a career law officer wouldn’t shout from the rooftops, and even risk his job, to blow the whistle on such a catastrophic potential national security risk? McCabe and his cabal knew that the entire Russia collusion narrative was bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign. We know McCabe knew this from the congressional testimony of former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr, who swore under oath (and he, unlike McCabe, was not fired for lying) that he told McCabe and others at the FBI that the Steele dossier was being pushed by a Trump-hater and should be relied upon with caution. By May 2017, McCabe implies he was in a state of panic on behalf of the gullible nation led by a Russian asset — but as Ohr said, McCabe and his cronies were aware that the explosive claims in the dossier were unverified. How could there be panic about unverified allegations? Also by May 2017, the FBI had months and months worth of “FISA take,” or data from the electronic spying on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and all those with whom Page communicated over months, or even years, prior to October 2016 when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was signed. According to former FBI director James Comey, none of that data resulted in any verification of the claims in the Steele dossier. Nonetheless, to these government bureaucrats it was acceptable to lie to the FISA Court by vouching for an unverified dossier. It was acceptable to them to illegally leak to the media the existence of the Russia investigation (for example, leaking the existence of a highly-classified FISA warrant on the Russian ambassador to destroy former national security adviser Michael Flynn and cripple the young presidency). And they apparently thought it acceptable to contemplate the use of the 25th Amendment to remove a president wholly capable of performing his constitutional duties. That’s a rolling coup, indeed.



Ukrainian to US prosecutors: Why don't you want our evidence on Democrats?
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house ... -democrats
Category: Politics
Published: April 7, 2019

Description: Ukrainian law enforcement officials believe they have evidence of wrongdoing by American Democrats and their allies in Kiev, ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes. But, they say, they’ve been thwarted in trying to get the Trump Justice Department to act. Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Prosecutor General’s International Legal Cooperation Department, told me he and other senior law enforcement officials tried unsuccessfully since last year to get visas from the U.S. embassy in Kiev to deliver their evidence to Washington. “We were supposed to share this information during a working trip to the United States,” Kulyk told me in a wide-ranging interview. “However, the (U.S.) ambassador blocked us from obtaining a visa. She didn’t explicitly deny our visa, but also didn’t give it to us.” One focus of Ukrainian investigators, Kulyk said, has been money spirited unlawfully out of Ukraine and moved to the United States by businessmen friendly to the prior, pro-Russia regime of Viktor Yanukovych. Ukrainian businessmen “authorized payments for lobbying efforts directed at the U.S. government,” he told me. “In addition, these payments were made from funds that were acquired during the money-laundering operation. We have information that a U.S. company was involved in these payments.” That company is tied to one or more prominent Democrats, Ukrainian officials insist. In another instance, he said, Ukrainian authorities gathered evidence that money paid to an American Democrat allegedly was hidden by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) during the 2016 election under pressure from U.S. officials. “In the course of this investigation, we found that there was a situation during which influence was exerted on the NABU, so that the name of (the American) would not be mentioned,” he said. Ukraine is infamous for corruption and disinformation operations; its police agencies fight over what is considered evidence of wrongdoing. Kulyk and his bosses even have political fights over who should and shouldn’t be prosecuted. Consequently, allegations emanating from Kiev usually are taken with a grain a salt. But many of the allegations shared with me by more than a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials are supported by evidence that emerged in recent U.S. court filings and intelligence reports. The Ukrainians told me their evidence includes:
* Sworn statements from two Ukrainian officials admitting that their agency tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Hillary Clinton. The effort included leaking an alleged ledger showing payments to then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort;
* Contacts between Democratic figures in Washington and Ukrainian officials that involved passing along dirt on Donald Trump;
* Financial records showing a Ukrainian natural gas company routed more than $3 million to American accounts tied to Hunter Biden, younger son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, who managed U.S.-Ukrainian relations for the Obama administration. Biden’s son served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings;
* Records that Vice President Biden pressured Ukrainian officials in March 2016 to fire the prosecutor who oversaw an investigation of Burisma Holdings and who planned to interview Hunter Biden about the financial transfers;
* Correspondence showing members of the State Department and U.S. embassy in Kiev interfered or applied pressure in criminal cases on Ukrainian soil;
* Disbursements of as much as $7 billion in Ukrainian funds that prosecutors believe may have been misappropriated or taken out of the country, including to the United States.
Ukrainian officials say they don’t want to hand the evidence to FBI agents working in Ukraine because they believe the bureau has a close relationship with NABU and the U.S. embassy. “It is no secret in Ukrainian political circles that the NABU was created with American help and tried to exert influence during the U.S. presidential election,” Kulyk told me. Kulyk’s boss, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, told me he has enough evidence — particularly involving Biden, his family and money spirited out of Ukraine — to warrant a meeting with U.S. Attorney General William Barr. “I’m looking forward to meeting with the attorney general of the United States in order to start and facilitate our joint investigation regarding the appropriation of another $7 billion in U.S. dollars with Ukrainian legal origin,” Lutsenko said. I wrote last week that Biden, in 2016, pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma. Kulyk confirmed Ukraine is investigating that alleged incident: “We have evidence and witnesses stating that Joe Biden applied pressure on Ukrainian law enforcement to stop the investigation.” Ukrainians officials have gone public in recent days with their frustrations, after months of trying to deliver the evidence quietly to the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) fizzled. Unable to secure visas from the U.S. embassy, some Ukrainian law enforcement officials sought backdoor channels, Kulyk said. One of those avenues involved reaching out last fall to a former federal prosecutor from the George W. Bush years, according to interviews. He delivered a written summary of some of the Ukrainian allegations to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, along with an offer to connect U.S. investigators with individuals purporting to have the evidence. There was no response or follow-up, according to multiple people directly familiar with the effort. More recently, President Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani — former mayor and former U.S. attorney in New York City — learned about some of the allegations while, on behalf of the Trump legal team, he looked into Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election. Since then, Lutsenko and others have talked with other American lawyers about helping to file U.S. legal action to recover money they believe was wrongly taken from their country. “It’s like no one at DOJ is listening. There is some compelling evidence that should at least be looked at, evaluated, but the door seems shut at both State and Justice,” said an American who has been contacted for help and briefed on the evidence. State Department officials declined to address whether they denied or slow-walked visas for Ukrainian officials. “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,” a department spokesperson said. Ukraine’s evidence, if true, would mark the first documented allegation of Democrats receiving assistance from a foreign power in their efforts to help Clinton win the 2016 election. “It looks like there is some evidence emerging that there could have been a proxy war between Russia and Ukraine to secure their preferred American president during the 2016 race,” said a former top intelligence official who now advises the Trump administration on intelligence policy. There is public-source information, in Ukraine and in the United States, that gives credence to some of what Ukrainian prosecutors allege. A court in Ukraine formally concluded that law enforcement officials there illegally tried to intervene in the 2016 U.S. election by leaking documents of Manafort’s business dealings after he was named Trump’s campaign chairman. And a Ukrainian parliamentarian released a purported tape recording of a top Ukrainian law enforcement official bragging that he was responsible for the leak and was trying to help Clinton win. Lutsenko told Hill.TV in an interview aired last week that he has opened a criminal investigation into those allegations. Nellie Ohr, wife of a senior Justice official and a researcher for the Fusion GPS opposition-research firm, testified to Congress last year that some of Fusion GPS’s research on Trump-Russia ties came from a Ukrainian parliamentarian. The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. Although Ohr acknowledged the Ukrainian source, lawmakers did not press her to be more specific. And Politico reported in 2017 on evidence of Ukraine’s U.S. embassy helping the Clinton campaign to discredit Trump. “A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia,” the newspaper reported. Separately, the conservative nonprofit Citizens United last month filed a lawsuit seeking to force the State Department to disclose all information it possesses about Hunter Biden and his business partners involved with Ukraine-based Burisma Holdings. If Ukrainian prosecutors can augment their allegations with real evidence, there could be a true case of collusion worth investigating. The only question is why the U.S. government so far hasn’t taken interest — and whether Attorney General Barr will change that.



Ukrainian Embassy confirms DNC contractor solicited Trump dirt in 2016
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house ... rt-in-2016
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: The boomerang from the Democratic Party’s failed attempt to connect Donald Trump to Russia’s 2016 election meddling is picking up speed, and its flight path crosses right through Moscow’s pesky neighbor, Ukraine. That is where there is growing evidence a foreign power was asked, and in some cases tried, to help Hillary Clinton. In its most detailed account yet, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington says a Democratic National Committee (DNC) insider during the 2016 election solicited dirt on Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and even tried to enlist the country's president to help. In written answers to questions, Ambassador Valeriy Chaly's office says DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa sought information from the Ukrainian government on Paul Manafort’s dealings inside the country, in hopes of forcing the issue before Congress. Chalupa later tried to arrange for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to comment on Manafort’s Russian ties on a U.S. visit during the 2016 campaign, the ambassador said. Chaly says that, at the time of the contacts in 2016, the embassy knew Chalupa primarily as a Ukrainian-American activist and learned only later of her ties to the DNC. He says the embassy considered her requests an inappropriate solicitation of interference in the U.S. election. “The Embassy got to know Ms. Chalupa because of her engagement with Ukrainian and other diasporas in Washington D.C., and not in her DNC capacity. We’ve learned about her DNC involvement later,” Chaly said in a statement issued by his embassy. “We were surprised to see Alexandra’s interest in Mr. Paul Manafort’s case. It was her own cause. The Embassy representatives unambiguously refused to get involved in any way, as we were convinced that this is a strictly U.S. domestic matter. “All ideas floated by Alexandra were related to approaching a Member of Congress with a purpose to initiate hearings on Paul Manafort or letting an investigative journalist ask President Poroshenko a question about Mr. Manafort during his public talk in Washington, D.C.,” the ambassador explained. Reached by phone last week, Chalupa said she was too busy to talk. She did not respond to email and phone messages seeking subsequent comment. Chaly’s written answers mark the most direct acknowledgement by Ukraine’s government that an American tied to the Democratic Party sought the country’s help in the 2016 election, and they confirm the main points of a January 2017 story by Politico on Chalupa’s efforts. In that story, the embassy was broadly quoted as denying interference in the election and suggested Chalupa’s main reason for contacting the ambassador’s office was to organize an event celebrating women leaders. The fresh statement comes several months after a Ukrainian court ruled that the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, and a parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko wrongly interfered in the 2016 American election by releasing documents related to Manafort. The acknowledgement by Kiev’s embassy, plus newly released testimony, suggests the Ukrainian efforts to influence the U.S. election had some intersections in Washington as well. Nellie Ohr, wife of senior U.S. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, acknowledged in congressional testimony that, while working for the Clinton-hired research firm Fusion GPS, she researched Trump's and Manafort’s ties to Russia and learned Leshchenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, was providing dirt to Fusion. Fusion also paid British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, whose anti-Trump dossier the FBI used as primary evidence to support its request to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. In addition, I wrote last month that the Obama White House invited Ukrainian law enforcement officials to a meeting in January 2016 as Trump rose in the polls on his improbable path to the presidency. The meeting led to U.S. requests to the Ukrainians to help investigate Manafort, setting in motion a series of events that led to the Ukrainians leaking the documents about Manafort in May 2016. The DNC’s embassy contacts add a new dimension, though. Chalupa discussed in the 2017 Politico article about her efforts to dig up dirt on Trump and Manafort, including at the Ukrainian embassy. FEC records show Chalupa’s firm, Chalupa & Associates, was paid $71,918 by the DNC during the 2016 election cycle. Exactly how the Ukrainian Embassy responded to Chalupa’s inquiries remains in dispute. Chaly’s statement says the embassy rebuffed her requests for information: “No documents related to Trump campaign or any individuals involved in the campaign have been passed to Ms. Chalupa or the DNC neither from the Embassy nor via the Embassy. No documents exchange was even discussed.” But Andrii Telizhenko, a former political officer who worked under Chaly from December 2015 through June 2016, told me he was instructed by the ambassador and his top deputy to meet with Chalupa in March 2016 and to gather whatever dirt Ukraine had in its government files about Trump and Manafort. Telizhenko said that, when he was told by the embassy to arrange the meeting, both Chaly and the ambassador’s top deputy identified Chalupa “as someone working for the DNC and trying to get Clinton elected.” Over lunch at a Washington restaurant, Chalupa told Telizhenko in stark terms what she hoped the Ukrainians could provide the DNC and the Clinton campaign, according to his account. “She said the DNC wanted to collect evidence that Trump, his organization and Manafort were Russian assets, working to hurt the U.S. and working with Putin against the U.S. interests. She indicated if we could find the evidence they would introduce it in Congress in September and try to build a case that Trump should be removed from the ballot, from the election,” he recalled. After the meeting, Telizhenko said he became concerned about the legality of using his country’s assets to help an American political party win an U.S. election. But he proceeded with his assignment. Telizhenko said that, as he began his research, he discovered that Fusion GPS was nosing around Ukraine, seeking similar information, and he believed they, too, worked for the Democrats. As a former aide inside the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev, Telizhenko used contacts with intelligence, police and prosecutors across the country to secure information connecting Russian figures to assistance on some of the Trump organization’s real estate deals overseas, including a tower in Toronto. Telizhenko said he did not want to provide the intelligence he collected directly to Chalupa, and instead handed the materials to Chaly: “I told him what we were doing was illegal, that it was unethical doing this as diplomats.” He said the ambassador told him he would handle the matter and had opened a second channel back in Ukraine to continue finding dirt on Trump. Telizhenko said he also was instructed by his bosses to meet with an American journalist researching Manafort’s ties to Ukraine. About a month later, he said his relationship with the ambassador soured and, by June 2016, he was ordered to return to Ukraine. There, he reported his concerns about the embassy’s contacts with the Democrats to the former prosecutor general’s office and officials in the Poroshenko administration: “Everybody already knew what was going on and told me it had been approved at the highest levels.” Telizhenko said he never was able to confirm whether the information he collected for Chalupa was delivered to her, the DNC or the Clinton campaign. Chalupa, meanwhile, continued to build a case that Manafort and Trump were tied to Russia. In April 2016, she attended an international symposium where she reported back to the DNC that she had met with 68 Ukrainian investigative journalists to talk about Manafort. She also wrote that she invited American reporter Michael Isikoff to speak with her. Isikoff wrote some of the seminal stories tying Manafort to Ukraine and Trump to Russia; he later wrote a book making a case for Russian collusion. “A lot more coming down the pipe,” Chalupa wrote a top DNC official on May 3, 2016, recounting her effort to educate Ukrainian journalists and Isikoff about Manafort. Then she added: “More offline tomorrow since there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I’m working on you should be aware of.” Less than a month later, the “black ledger” identifying payments to Manafort was announced in Ukraine, forcing Manafort to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman and eventually to face criminal prosecution for improper foreign lobbying. DNC officials have suggested in the past that Chalupa’s efforts were personal, not officially on behalf of the DNC. But Chalupa’s May 2016 email clearly informed a senior DNC official that she was “digging into Manafort” and she suspected someone was trying to hack into her email account. Chaly over the years has tried to portray his role as Ukraine’s ambassador in Washington as one of neutrality during the 2016 election. But in August 2016 he raised eyebrows in some diplomatic circles when he wrote an op-ed in The Hill skewering Trump for some of his comments on Russia. “Trump’s comments send wrong message to world,” Chaly’s article blared in the headline. In his statement to me, Chaly said he wrote the op-ed because he had been solicited for his views by The Hill’s opinion team. Chaly’s office also acknowledged that a month after the op-ed, President Poroshenko met with then-candidate Clinton during a stop in New York. The office said the ambassador requested a similar meeting with Trump but it didn’t get organized. Though Chaly and Telizhenko disagree on what Ukraine did after it got Chalupa’s request, they confirm that a paid contractor of the DNC solicited their government’s help to find dirt on Trump that could sway the 2016 election. For a Democratic Party that spent more than two years building the now-disproven theory that Trump colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election, the tale of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington feels just like a speeding political boomerang.
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Yes, The Russia Scandal Is Real — And It Involves Hillary Clinton

Postby smix » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:17 am

Yes, The Russia Scandal Is Real — And It Involves Hillary Clinton
Investor''s Business Daily

URL: http://www.investors.com/politics/edito ... y-clinton/
Category: Politics
Published: October 17, 2017

Description: Clinton Scandals: For well over a year now, the progressive left in the Democratic Party have tried hard to sell the idea that, a) Russia meddled in our election, and, b) that it was to the detriment of Hillary Clinton. After nearly a year and a half of investigating, neither appears true. What is true, and now documented, is that Hillary Clinton and her family foundation both benefited handsomely from Russian corruption. Citing federal officials and government documents, The Hill details the Russians' nuclear-industry corruption here in the U.S., citing extensive evidence that "Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin's atomic energy business" in the U.S. But that's just the beginning. Based on both an eyewitness account and documents, The Hill report goes on to say that federal agents found evidence "indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow." Isn't that called bribery? Strangely, the Department of Justice first discovered the Russian racketeering scheme and the links to Clinton in 2009. But it failed to bring charges, and dragged its investigation out for four years with no substantive action. Meanwhile, in October of 2010, the State Department and the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) curiously — and unanimously — approved the sale of part of Uranium One, a Canadian-based company with uranium interests in the U.S., to Rosatom, a Russian state holding company. Why is this significant? That sale gave Russia, a potential nuclear foe, defacto control over 20% of the U.S.' uranium supply. Let that sink in for a minute. Then there's this: The CFIUS that approved the Rosatom deal had two key members: Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in a clear conflict of interest materially benefited from the deal, and Attorney General Eric Holder, the man responsible for slow-walking the investigation into Russian nuclear racketeering. So the Obama administration knew of the Russian racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and the rest, as Vladimir Putin's minions elbowed their way into the U.S. nuclear market. The Obama administration did nothing. The administration knew, too, that Hillary was selling access and influence in the State Department via donations to the family charity. But, again, it did nothing. And these donations weren't just peanuts. The Clintons and their foundation raked in a cool $145 million in donations and "speaking fees" just from Uranium One- and Rosatom-affiliated donors while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was supposedly keeping all Clinton Foundation business at "arm's-length." As we reported in July, Clinton official emails show extensive connections between Hillary, the Clinton Foundation and donors during her time as secretary of state, a kind of criminal conga-line of people asking for favors from Hillary and donating to the foundation. Peter Schwiezer, the author of "Clinton Cash," questioned this "spontaneous outbreak of philanthropy among eight shareholders in Uranium One" who "decide now would be a great time to donate tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation." Nor was this just a Russian thing. It was a much-broader pay-for-play scheme by Hillary Clinton. Consider this: Of the 154 private interests that were given official access to Hillary Clinton during her tenure at the State Department, at least 85 donated to the Clinton Foundation or a program affiliated with it. The secretary of state's office in Foggy Bottom might as well have had "For Sale" painted on it. That the Clintons and their eponymous foundation got away with their corrupt arrangement for so many years without interference or censure speaks to a deep political corruption in the Obama administration. It's strange that an investigation continues into the inconsequential ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian officials, while solid evidence of bribery of the Clinton family by the Russians and many others is completely ignored.



Clinton Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation?
Investor''s Business Daily

URL: http://www.investors.com/politics/edito ... stigation/
Category: Politics
Published: July 20, 2017

Description: Corruption: Amid the trivial fault-finding by the media of President Trump's every move, it's important to note that the very same pundits who now rip Trump have completely ignored the growing scandal of Hillary Clinton's pay-for-play tenure as secretary of state. It's reasonable to wonder why no charges have yet been filed, yet the media, blinded by their Trump hatred, seem strangely incurious. The legal investigative think tank Judicial Watch recently released 448 pages of documents that it dug up from the U.S. State Department, the fruit of months of Freedom of Information Act requests and document-digging. The documents are damning, showing even more instances of Hillary Clinton performing official favors for those who donated to the Clinton Foundation and certain political campaigns. To put it even more bluntly, the emails make a prima facie case for a criminal prosecution of Clinton. As Judicial Watch notes: "In July 2009, in reference to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Clinton Global Initiative head Doug Band told (Huma) Abedin that she "Need(s) to show love" to Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical (DOW). Band also asked for Liveris to be introduced to Hillary, "and have her mention both me and wjc." Dow gave between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. Band also pushes for Clinton to do a favor for Karlheinz Koegel, a major Clinton Foundation contributor, who wanted Hillary Clinton to give the 'honor speech' for his media prize to 'Merkel.' " Further, "The emails reveal that on June 19, 2009, Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham, passed a long a letter for Hillary Clinton for Clinton donor Richard Park. Park donated $100,000 to Bill Clinton as far back as 1993 and is listed by the Clinton Foundation as a $100,000 to $250,000 donor." This wasn't all, not by a long shot. Ben Ringel, a Clinton donor, emailed top Clinton aide Huma Abedin seeking a U.S. visa for an unnamed Iranian woman. Ringel donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Foundation head Band shows up in numerous emails, seeking favors, including trying to get people jobs in the State Department. At times, the Clinton Foundation's top executive seems almost to be an adjunct State Department official. In August 2009, for instance, Band tried to get his candidate installed as ambassador to Barbados. Abedin answered: "I know, he's emailed a few times. But she wants to give to someone else." In another instance earlier that year, Band sought a "career post" in East Timor for someone. Abedin told him that Hillary Clinton's chief of staff Cheryl Mills was working on that request "under the radar." Still other emails show a stunning contempt for any notion of protecting classified information, with emails revealing sensitive matters being routinely exposed on Hillary Clinton's and Huma Abedin's unsecured email server, ranging from classified emails from U.S. ambassadors to the planned schedule for President Obama while in Cairo, Egypt, to a sensitive document of a Clinton phone call with "Chinese Foreign Minister Yang." All on a server that many experts believe was probably hacked by the Chinese, the Russians, or both. Old news, you say? Hardly. As most know, the hoo-ha over Donald Trump Jr.'s talks with Russian officials revolves around a somewhat mysterious yet nearly ubiquitous Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya, who purported to have some dirt on Hillary Clinton that she would exchange for help with the Global Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that imposed sanctions on Russians who were deemed to be human-rights violators. Now, if you reach way back in your memory banks, recall that Bill Clinton, on June 29, 2010, gave a speech in Moscow for $500,000, paid for by the Russian government-tied financial firm Renaissance Capital. And also remember that before Bill's speech was made, Hillary had refused a congressional request to reject visas for several Russian officials who were thought to be implicated in human-rights abuses. Which raises a big question: Was Bill's speech a quid pro quo for Hillary's help? Subsequent events suggest the answer was yes. For despite Hillary Clinton's and President Obama's hopes of a "reset" with Russia, Congress in 2012 passed the Global Magnitsky Act. And for the record, Renaissance Capital was allegedly party to the scandal that led to the Magnitsky Act. Documents from WikiLeaks show that Hillary was aware of the potential trouble this could create for her campaign. As Jesse Lehrich, part of the Clinton campaign's "Rapid Response Communications" team, wrote in May of 2015: "With the help of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to link HRC's oppostion to the Magnitsky bill a $500,000 speech that WJC gave in Moscow." In an ironic addendum, it was to get help with avoiding restrictions under the Magnitsky Act that Veselnitskaya sought to meet with Donald Trump Jr. Collusion? There's plenty of it. As we've noted repeatedly in the last year, the conflicts of interest and criminal collusion between Hillary Clinton's State Department, the Clinton Foundation and the Russians, among others, are numerous and profound. They warrant a thorough investigation. Why Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been tasked to look into the pathetically trivial meetings between the Trump camp and a handful of Russians — not a violation of any law we're aware of — is inexplicable.
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Clinton campaign glossing over its own Russia connections

Postby smix » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:29 am

Clinton campaign glossing over its own Russia connections
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09 ... tions.html
Category: Politics
Published: September 2, 2016

Description: Hillary Clinton's campaign and its allies have hurled allegations that Team Trump is tangled up with the Kremlin -- but remain largely silent about the Russian links of Clinton's own campaign chairman, John Podesta, and the company he co-founded. Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, recently told ABC News that the "hand of the Kremlin" is at work in the Donald Trump campaign. This was after his campaign chairman Paul Manafort stepped down amid reports he received payments from Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin political party. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid piled on last week, asking FBI Director James Comey to investigate potential Trump camp ties to Russia’s alleged involvement in hacking of Democratic organizations and possible election interference. “The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” he wrote. But the Trump campaign is not alone in its Russian connections. As first revealed in The Panama Papers leak, the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm co-founded by John Podesta, moved to register in March with the U.S. government as a lobbyist for Sberbank -- the U.S. subsidiary of the Russian state-held bank. Podesta left the firm years ago, but his brother and co-founder Tony Podesta -- also a top Clinton bundler -- is currently chairman. According to Senate lobbying records, Tony Podesta is listed as a lobbyist for the bank and for three affiliated companies -- the Luxembourg-based SB International, Cyprus-based SBGB and Troika Dialog Group, located in the Cayman Islands. “Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” a retired senior U.S. intelligence official told The New York Observer. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of journalists, has reported that both Sberbank and Troika Dialog have links to companies that were exploited by Putin allies to redirect state resources into profitable private investments. John Podesta has not had a role at or stake in the Podesta Group since 2003. Neither the Clinton campaign nor Reid’s office responded to requests for comment on whether they back a probe of Clinton campaign Russian links. The Podesta Group, though, already is part of an FBI and Justice Department investigation looking into the activities of Manafort’s firm and other U.S. companies who allegedly were used to aid corruption by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Kremlin Party of Regions, according to CNN. According to an Associated Press report, the investigation is looking at the $1.13 million paid to the Podesta Group by the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a pro-Yanukovych non-profit. Because the payment was made to the center, the Podesta Group did not register as a lobbyist for a foreign entity. “Our firm represents many global companies, based around the world, and we file publicly available disclosure reports associated with these representations as necessary,” Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fitts said in a statement to FoxNews.com. In a separate statement, Fitts said the group has retained outside counsel. “When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party. We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” the statement said. The pro-Kremlin slant of the Centre was publicly known as far back as 2012 when The Los Angeles Times noted that “it just happens to be an operation controlled by Yanukovych, according to Ukrainska Pravda.” The fact that Russia has connections with figures on both sides of the aisle is not necessarily surprising. “The Russians are not any different than the Chinese in that they play both sides of the aisle developing relationships with whoever is close to power,” Peter Schweizer, author and president of the Government Accountability Institute and an outspoken Clinton critic, told FoxNews.com. “The reset went far beyond the normal diplomatic outreach on the surface to the flow of funds to the Clintons and their allies,” he said, referring to the attempt to "reset" relations with Moscow early on in the Obama administration. One of the links, according to a recent report from Schweizer's group, involves John Podesta’s time on the board of Joule Unlimited, a small Massachusetts-based energy company. Just two months after Podesta joined the company it received an investment of $35 million from Rusnano, an investment firm founded by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The amount of compensation that Podesta received for his contribution to the company is unclear. While disclosure papers for Joule Unlimited were filed, Podesta did not disclose his work for Joule Global Stichting, a related entity. According to the report, Podesta said in a 2014 filing he divested stock options from Joule.



Grassley probes Clinton 'conflicts of interest' amid new questions in Russia uranium deal
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10 ... -deal.html
Category: Politics
Published: October 18, 2017

Description: A top Senate Republican is probing potential “conflicts of interest” for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration regarding the 2010 approval of a controversial uranium deal with a Russian company, amid new details about donations from “interested parties” and an FBI corruption probe involving employees of the same Russian firm. “This committee has an obligation to get to the bottom of this issue,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday, at the start of a hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Hill reported a day earlier that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S. -- but the Obama administration approved the uranium deal benefiting Moscow anyway. Grassley on Wednesday released a series of letters he fired off last week to 10 federal agencies, addressing those issues in detail and raising the question of whether the committee that approved the transaction was aware of the FBI probe. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) included then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Asked about the concerns at Wednesday’s hearing, Sessions told Grassley the Justice Department will take “appropriate” actions. “I hear your concerns and they will be reviewed,” Sessions said, without responding directly to a question from Grassley on whether the Justice Department has also probed whether the Russians "compromised" the Obama administration to "smooth the way" for the deal. “It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on any ongoing investigation,” Sessions said. The deal in question, which was previously reported, involved the 2010 approval of a partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S. Grassley wrote in his letters that he’s not “convinced” by previous “assurances” that there were no unresolved national security concerns. Grassley, in his hearing remarks and letters, raised two key issues. It had been previously reported that figures tied to the transaction gave donations to Bill Clinton and his family foundation, but Grassley wrote that he has learned additional details about a $500,000 fee the former president got from a Russian investment bank for a June 2010 speech. He wrote that the bank’s senior officers include former Russian intelligence personnel, and sources had described the company as an “extension” of the Russian government. “Notably, in the same month as the Clinton speech, Uranium One and Rosatom notified CFIUS of the Russian government’s intent to acquire twenty percent of the United States’ uranium assets. The next month, in July 2010, Renaissance Bank reportedly assigned Uranium One a ‘buy’ rating, a move that would principally benefit its Russian investors,” Grassley wrote. “The donations raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest for Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration.” Further, Grassley raised concerns about the FBI probe into “corruption and extortion” involving employees of a Rosatom subsidiary dating back to 2009 – before the 2010 approval. As noted in The Hill, the feds did eventually go after Vadim Mikerin, a Russian nuclear industry official, in connection with the investigation. He was later sentenced, in 2015, to 48 months in prison in connection with money laundering allegations. But Grassley wants to know whether the committee that approved the transaction was aware of the ongoing criminal probe at the time. “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’ decision to approve the transaction,” Grassley wrote. He said given that the deal resulted in a “Russian government takeover” of a chunk of U.S. uranium mining capacity, “very serious questions remain about the basis for the finding that this transaction did not threaten to impair U.S. national security.” When details of the Uranium One deal first emerged in 2015, Clinton’s campaign downplayed the allegations. "No one has produced a shred of evidence that Hillary Clinton ever took action as Secretary of State in order to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation," a spokesman said at the time. "To suggest 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.”



Grassley wants 'gag order' lifted for FBI informant allegedly 'threatened' by Obama DOJ
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10 ... a-doj.html
Category: Politics
Published: October 19, 2017

Description: A top Senate Republican is calling for the Justice Department to lift an apparent “gag order” on an FBI informant who reportedly helped the U.S. uncover a corruption and bribery scheme by Russian nuclear officials but allegedly was “threatened” by the Obama administration to stay quiet. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is focusing on the informant amid scrutiny of the 2010 approval of a controversial uranium deal with a Russian company. He’s raising questions about potential “conflicts of interest” for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration, and especially wants to know whether the committee that approved the deal was aware of the FBI probe involving a subsidiary of the same Russian firm. On Thursday, President Trump called the issue “your real Russia story” and said “it’s a disgrace” that the “fake news won’t cover” it. The deal in question, which was previously reported, involved the 2010 approval of a partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S. Grassley wrote in letters last week to federal agencies that he’s not “convinced” by previous “assurances” that there were no unresolved national security concerns, and revealed Thursday that he wants to hear from the FBI informant in the Russia corruption probe. “Witnesses who want to talk to Congress should not be gagged and threatened with prosecution for talking. If that has happened, senior DOJ leadership needs to fix it and release the witness from the gag order,” Grassley said in a statement. Victoria Toensing, a lawyer for the former FBI informant, told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that her client has “specific information about contributions and bribes to various entities and people in the United States.” She said she could not go further because her client has not been released from a nondisclosure agreement but suggested the gag order could be lifted soon. Toensing also claimed that her client was “threatened by the Loretta Lynch Justice Department” when he pursued a civil action in which he reportedly sought to disclose some information about the case. In a letter sent Wednesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Grassley said such an NDA would “appear to improperly prevent the individual from making critical, good faith disclosures to Congress of potential wrongdoing.” He asked for a copy of the NDA by Nov. 1 and requested that, should one exist, “you release him from it and pledge not to engage in any form of retaliation against him for good faith communications with Congress.” Sessions separately sent a letter to Toensing asking to set up an interview with the former informant. Grassley wrote, “It appears that your client possesses unique information about the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction and how the Justice Department handled the criminal investigation into the Russian criminal conspiracy.” The Hill reported earlier this week that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S. Grassley on Wednesday released a series of letters he fired off last week to 10 federal agencies, raising the question of whether the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which approved the uranium transaction was aware of that FBI probe -- and pointing to potential “conflicts” involving the Clintons. The committee included then-Secretary of State Clinton. It had been previously reported that figures tied to the transaction gave donations to Bill Clinton and his family foundation, but Grassley wrote that he has learned additional details about a $500,000 fee the former president got from a Russian investment bank for a June 2010 speech. He wrote that the bank’s senior officers include former Russian intelligence personnel, and sources had described the company as an “extension” of the Russian government. “Notably, in the same month as the Clinton speech, Uranium One and Rosatom notified CFIUS of the Russian government’s intent to acquire 20 percent of the United States’ uranium assets. The next month, in July 2010, Renaissance Bank reportedly assigned Uranium One a ‘buy’ rating, a move that would principally benefit its Russian investors,” Grassley wrote. “The donations raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest for Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration.” As noted in The Hill, the feds did eventually go after Vadim Mikerin, a Russian nuclear industry official, in connection with the investigation. He was later sentenced, in 2015, to 48 months in prison in connection with money laundering allegations. When details of the Uranium One deal first emerged in 2015, Clinton’s campaign downplayed the allegations. "No one has produced a shred of evidence that Hillary Clinton ever took action as Secretary of State in order to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation," a spokesman said at the time. "To suggest 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.”



Gag order lifted: DOJ says informant can speak to Congress on Uranium One, Russia bribery case with Clinton links
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10 ... gress.html
Category: Politics
Published: October 25, 2017

Description: The Justice Department said Wednesday night that it had lifted a gag order on a former FBI informant involved in a high-profile Russia bribery case, clearing the individual to speak to Congress about Moscow’s Obama-era uranium deals in the U.S. market and other schemes. In a statement, the department said it had authorized the informant to speak to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in addition to select staffers. The department said the informant could provide “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,” including Russian company Rosatom, subsidiary Tenex, Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One refers to the name of a Canada-based company with mines in the U.S. that was bought by Rosatom, a company backed by the Russian state. The State Department, then led by Hillary Clinton, was one of nine U.S. government agencies that had to approve the deal back in 2010. All three congressional committees launched investigations after The Hill reported that the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear officials were involved in fraudulent dealings – including extortion, bribery and kickbacks – as far back as 2009 in a case involving Rosatom’s subsidiary, Tenex. Congressional Republicans have since questioned how the Uranium One deal was approved the following year by an inter-agency committee, and sought to gain access to the informant. Republicans also have raised concerns about efforts by interested parties to influence the Clintons – citing donations to the Clinton Foundation as well as a $500,000 speaking fee received in Russia by former President Bill Clinton, who reportedly met with Vladimir Putin around the time of the deal. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted Tuesday that the Justice Department should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Uranium One deal.
Whoever in DOJ is capable w authority to appoint a special counsel shld do so to investigate Uranium One "whoever" means if u aren't recused — ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 25, 2017

The informant's attorney, Victoria Toensing, told Fox Business Network Monday that her client can "tell what all the Russians were talking about during the time that all these bribery payments were made." The informant earlier was prevented from testifying by former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, according to Toensing, after having signed a non-disclosure agreement.



Fusion GPS official met with Russian operative before and after Trump Jr. sit-down
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/11 ... -down.html
Category: Politics
Published: November 7, 2017

Description: The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with a Russian lawyer before and after a key meeting she had last year with Trump’s son, Fox News has learned. The contacts shed new light on how closely tied the firm was to Russian interests, at a time when it was financing research to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump. The opposition research firm has faced renewed scrutiny after litigation revealed that the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for that research. Congressional Republicans have since questioned whether that politically financed research contributed to the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – making Fusion’s 2016 contacts with Russian interests all the more relevant. The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya occurred during a critical period. At that time, Fox News has learned that bank records show Fusion GPS was paid by a law firm for work on behalf of a Kremlin-linked oligarch while paying a former British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on Trump through his Russian contacts. But hours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, a confidential source told Fox News. Court records reviewed by Fox News, email correspondence and published reports corroborate the pair’s presence together. The source told Fox News they also were together after the Trump Tower meeting. Simpson’s presence with Veselnitskaya during this critical week in June -- together with revelations about Fusion’s simultaneous financial ties to the DNC, Clinton campaign and Russian interests -- raise new questions about the company’s role in the 2016 election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Trump Tower meeting as part of his probe of Russian interference in last year’s election. Simpson and Fusion GPS were hired by BakerHostetler, which represented Russian firm Prevezon through Veselnitskaya. Veselnitskaya has said she sought the Trump Tower meeting in order to lobby the candidate’s team against Russian sanctions, but the initial approach included an offer of compromising information on candidate Clinton. Lawyers representing Fusion and Veselnitskaya did not respond to requests for comment lodged on Friday. Senate Judiciary Committee investigators interviewed Simpson for more than 10 hours on Aug. 22. A spokesman for the committee had no comment on whether Simpson confirmed his contact with Veselnitskaya during the closed-door session. The DNC and Clinton campaign hired Fusion in April 2016 through lawyer Marc Elias, who was general counsel for the Clinton campaign. Fusion, in turn, paid Steele $168,000 for the dossier, memos from which were shared with the FBI in the summer of 2016. Fusion officials said last week Steele's money came from $1.02 million it received in fees and expenses from Elias' law firm Perkins Coie. Prior to contracting with the DNC, Fusion had been conducting research into Trump and other Republican candidates on behalf of the conservative website The Washington Free Beacon. NBC News first reported that Veselnitskaya and Simpson were both at a hearing centered around another Fusion client, Russian oligarch Denis Katsyv. His company, Prevezon Holdings, was sanctioned against doing business in the U.S. for its alleged role in laundering more than $230 million. Fox News obtained audio records from that hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The wrongdoing had been uncovered by Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was beaten to death in a Russian prison in 2009 after being arrested for probing Prevezon and other companies with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In December 2012, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was passed into U.S. law, freezing Russian assets and banning visas for sanctioned individuals. Fusion’s Simpson is believed to have been working with Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer turned Russian-American lobbyist, to overturn the sanctions. Akhmetshin also attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, along with about a half-dozen others including Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, publicist Rob Goldstone, Natalia's Russian translator Anatoli Samochornov and Ike Kaveladze from a Russian-American real estate agency. Mueller’s interest in Fusion is unclear, but the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting one of several related congressional probes, recently struck a deal to gain access to Fusion’s bank records after initially issuing a subpoena. The records show that the DNC funded Fusion’s dossier effort. Over the weekend, Fusion GPS sought a new restraining order after the House panel requested additional records that could reveal if Fusion was paying media companies or reporters for planting stories. "What we are finding out is that there is a lot of Russian influence in Washington, and a lot of money flowing in to influence our political process in Washington," Marc Thiessen, a Washington Post columnist and former Bush administration official, said. "It's going into Hlilary Clinton. It's going to Fusion GPS. It's going into a lobbying campaign up on Capitol Hill against Magnitsky." Meanwhile, a request from Veselnitskaya and Katsyv for a new "temporary immigration parole" to return to the U.S. for a Nov. 9 Prevezon hearing in New York was denied, according to court documents reviewed by Fox News. A Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman told Fox News they are "encouraged" that Veselnitskaya has "signaled a willingness to cooperate" with the committee.



Obama-era Russian Uranium One deal: What to know
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/11 ... -know.html
Category: Politics
Published: November 14, 2017

Description: Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions has directed “senior federal prosecutors” to investigate issues pertaining to the controversial sale of Uranium One, according to a letter from the Department of Justice exclusively obtained by Fox News. Multiple congressional committees have called for an investigation into the Obama-era deal that resulted in a Russian company purchasing American uranium mines. The Justice Department previously lifted a gag order on a former FBI informant who is expected to have more information regarding the agreement that allowed Russia to control about one-fifth of the uranium mining in the U.S. – and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it. The request came at the behest of many Republican lawmakers. Now, Sessions has cleared the way for an appointment of a special counsel to oversee an investigation into the deal. However, the Justice Department noted that it does not confirm active investigations. The controversial sale of what is now Uranium One to a Russian company is what President Trump has called the “real Russia story” as federal investigators continue to probe Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election. The Hill reported that Russian officials engaged in a “racketeering scheme” to further its energy goals in the U.S.
What was the Uranium One deal?
In 2013, Rosatom, backed by the Russian state, acquired a Canadian uranium mining company, now called Uranium One, which has assets in the U.S. Uranium is key to making nuclear weapons. Through the deal, Russia is able to own about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. However, Colin Chilcoat, an energy affairs specialist who has written extensively about Russia's energy deals, said that the company only extracts about 11 percent of uranium in the U.S. The deal also “doesn’t allow for that uranium to be exported at all,” Chilcoat told Fox News. “It’s not like it’s leaving the U.S. or somehow finding its way to more insidious players.” The agreement was approved by nine government agencies with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency group that reviews how certain foreign investments can impact national security. Clinton’s State Department was one of those agencies, though the former secretary of state told WMUR-TV in 2015 that she was not “personally involved” in the agreement.
Why is it controversial?
Republicans have largely decried the deal, especially as some investors reportedly donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Former President Bill Clinton also received a $500,000 speaking fee in Russia and reportedly met with Vladimir Putin around the time of the deal. The FBI had looked into the agreement and uncovered that some Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in nefarious dealings, which included extortion, bribery and kickbacks, The Hill reported. Evidence of wrongdoing by Vadim Mikerin, the Russian official overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion in the U.S. who was eventually sentenced to prison, was discovered by the FBI before the deal was approved, according to The Hill. Author Peter Schweizer – who wrote about the deal in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash” – told Fox News that there is no evidence that the people involved with approving the agreement knew that the FBI had an ongoing investigation into it. But Republicans say the whole affair raises serious questions. “Now it’s the Democrats who have some explaining to do,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “I hope they will cooperate with the investigation, be forthcoming with the American people and I expect the media to cover these new developments with the same breathless intensity that they have given to this investigation since day one.” And White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that “if anyone colluded for a foreign government in last year’s election, it was the Clinton campaign [and] the Democrats.” Trump has often accused the media of not reporting enough on the Uranium One deal. “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!” the president tweeted on Oct. 19. And in March, Trump asked on social media why the House Intelligence Committee has not launched an investigation into the “Bill and Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia.”
How does this tie in with the other Russia investigation?
Multiple congressional committees as well as the Justice Department are looking into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election – and ties between Russians and Trump’s campaign. "That's your real Russia story. Not a story where they talk about collusion and there was none. It was a hoax. Your real Russia story is uranium," Trump has said. Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the probe into alleged Russian interference in the election, was the head of the FBI when it investigated Rosatom officials’ extortion and corruption. And the investigation was led by then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director, and then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, now the deputy attorney general, The Hill reported. Mueller's investigators in the Russia probe report to Rosenstein. The special prosecutors instructed by the Justice Department to investigate “certain issues” pertaining to the Uranium One deal will also report to Rosenstein and Sessions, Assistant Attorney Gen. Stephen Boyd wrote in the letter obtained by Fox News. Congressional committees are looking into whether Mueller informed the Obama administration, particularly those tasked with approving the Uranium One deal, prior to CFIUS approval. In her attempt to discredit reports of the controversy surrounding the Uranium One deal, Clinton said Trump and “his allies, including Fox News,” are diverting from the investigation. “The closer the investigation about real Russian ties between Trump associates and real Russians … the more they want to just throw mud on the wall,” she said Monday. “I’m their favorite target, me and President Obama.”
What happens next?
The former informant’s lawyer, Victoria Toensing, has told Fox Business that her client can “tell what all the Russians were talking about during the time that all these bribery payments were made.” The informant was prevented from testifying by former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, according to Toensing. With the gag order lifted, the informant will be allowed to speak with the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Justice Department said. The informant will be able to provide “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,” it said. “Witnesses who want to talk to Congress should not be gagged and threatened with prosecution for talking,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. The Justice Department said Wednesday night that it has lifted the gag order, allowing the informant to discuss the deal with congressional investigators. Jamil Jaffer, a former counsel in the Justice Department, said the alleged informant could allow Congress to “follow the money” because “if the informant was inside many or all of these transactions, meetings or conversations, he may be able to provide useful information about the intent behind the transaction and whether it was quid pro quo.” “The key issues at stake in this investigation are all about intent and knowledge: was there an intent to influence official business, and, if so, did the recipient take the money in exchange for taking official action,” Jaffer, the director of the National Security Law and Policy Program at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, told Fox News. But Jaffer said the credibility of the so-called informant will also come into play. “Was this a foreign agent or criminal who turned? Was this a private individual the FBI placed inside [the deal]? Was this a government employee? All these factors, plus the level of the informant’s access to relevant information, will make a big difference here,” Jaffer. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told Fox News that the House Oversight committee’s investigation “could be criminal,” depending on the statute of limitations.



FBI lovers' latest text messages: Obama 'wants to know everything'
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02 ... tions.html
Category: Politics
Published: February 7, 2018

Description: Newly revealed text messages between FBI paramours Peter Strzok and Lisa Page include an exchange about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to give to President Obama, who wanted “to know everything we’re doing." The message, from Page to Strzok, was among thousands of texts between the lovers reviewed by Fox News. The pair both worked at one point for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because "potus wants to know everything we're doing." According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama's personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation. In texts previously revealed, Strzok and Page have shown their disdain for Republicans in general, as well as Trump, calling him a "f---ing idiot," among other insults. Among the newly disclosed texts, Strzok also calls Virginians who voted against then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's wife for a state Senate seat "ignorant hillbillys." (sic) That text came from Strzok to Page on Nov. 4, 2015, the day after Jill McCabe lost a hotly contested Virginia state Senate election. Strzok said of the result, "Disappointing, but look at the district map. Loudon is being gentrified, but it's still largely ignorant hillbillys. Good for her for running, but curious if she's energized or never again." Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., along with majority staff from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is releasing the texts, along with a report titled, “The Clinton Email Scandal and the FBI's Investigation of it.” The newly uncovered texts reveal a bit more about the timing of the discovery of "hundreds of thousands" of emails on former Congressman Anthony Weiner's laptop, ultimately leading to Comey's infamous letter to Congress just days before the 2016 presidential election. On Sept. 28, 2016, Strzok wrote to Page, "Got called up to Andy's [McCabe] earlier.. hundreds of thousands of emails turned over by Weiner's atty to sdny [Southern District of New York], includes a ton of material from spouse [Huma Abedin]. Sending team up tomorrow to review... this will never end." According to the Senate report, this text message raises questions about when FBI officials learned of emails relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation on the laptop belonging to Weiner, the husband to Clinton aide Huma Abedin. It was a full month later, on Oct. 28, 2016, when Comey informed Congress that, "Due to recent developments," the FBI was re-opening its Clinton email investigation. "In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday..." Comey said at the time. The question becomes why Comey was only informed by his investigative team on Oct. 27, if the Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop were discovered by Sept. 28, at the latest. Other texts show more examples of the officials' opposition to Trump. On Election Day 2016, Page wrote, "OMG THIS IS F***ING TERRIFYING." Strzok replied, "Omg, I am so depressed." Later that month, on Nov. 13, 2016, Page wrote, "I bought all the president's men. Figure I need to brush up on watergate." The next day, Nov. 14, 2016, Page wrote, “God, being here makes me angry. Lots of high fallutin’ national security talk. Meanwhile we have OUR task ahead of us.” Page’s meaning here is unclear, but according to the Senate report, coupled with Strzok’s Aug. 15 text about an “insurance policy,” further investigation is warranted to find out what actions the two may have taken. The last text is from Page to Strzok, and comes on June 23, 2017, when she wrote, "Please don't ever text me again." It's unclear whether she was mad at her friend, or if she suddenly became aware that they, and their thousands of texts, had been discovered.



Uranium One informant says Moscow paid millions in bid to influence Clinton
Fox News

URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02 ... inton.html
Category: Politics
Published: February 8, 2018

Description: An FBI informant involved in the controversial Uranium One deal has told congressional committees that Moscow paid millions to a U.S. lobbying firm in a bid to influence then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by helping former President Bill Clinton’s charities during the Obama administration. The Hill first reported late Wednesday that informant Douglas Campbell gave a 10-page statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Intelligence Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and was interviewed for several hours behind closed doors by committee staff. In the statement, obtained by Fox News, Campbell said Russian executives told him that Moscow was hiring APCO Worldwide in an effort to influence the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. Campbell said Russian nuclear officials “told me at various times that they expected APCO to apply a portion of the $3 million annual lobbying fee it was receiving from the Russians to provide in-kind support for the Clinton’s Global Initiative.” “The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months,” Campbell said in the statement. “APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the US-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.” In a statement to Fox News, though, APCO called Campbell's assertion "false and unfounded." "APCO Worldwide undertook client work on behalf of Tenex in 2010 and 2011. It undertook work for the Clinton Global Initiative from 2008-2016," APCO told Fox News. "These projects were totally separate and unconnected in any way. All APCO’s actions on these two unconnected activities were publicly documented from the outset, legally proper and entirely ethical. Any assertion otherwise is false and unfounded." Uranium One is a Canadian mining company whose sale to a Russian firm was approved in 2010. The U.S. government was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the U.S. uranium supply. The transaction has faced renewed scrutiny after The Hill reported last year that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S., related to a subsidiary of the same Russian firm. Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to know how the deal was approved the following year by an inter-agency committee. The Campbell statement also described an earlier meeting with Russian officials outside Washington where they "boasted about how weak the U.S. government was in giving away uranium business," and referred to then-President Barack Obama "with racial epithets." Campbell’s attorney Victoria Toensing said her client has reported a “strategic plan” by Russian President Vladimir Putin to “take over the uranium industry.” “[The Russians] were so confident that they told Mr. Campbell with the Clinton’s help, it was a shoo-in to get CFIUS [The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] approval,” Toensing said on “Hannity.” “They were so confident in that that they even had him open up the new office because they were planning on the kind of business they were going to do as soon as CFIUS approved it.” Toensing told Fox News that Campbell was told by the FBI that Obama was aware of the information. “He was told that President Obama had it in his daily briefing twice,” Toensing said. Congressional Republicans have called for further investigation into Uranium One. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate “certain issues” requested by Republicans, including Uranium One and alleged dealings related to the Clinton Foundation, leaving the door open for the appointment of another special counsel. But this week, Democrats have charged that Campbell’s statements and the Republican interest in them is a tactic to distract from the larger Russia probe clouding the Trump administration. Democrats have accused Republicans of making “wild claims” against Clinton. “Republicans have been talking directly to this individual while refusing to grant Democratic members access, despite multiple requests,” Ranking Members of the House oversight and intelligence committees, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement. “During this same time period, Republicans have been making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against Secretary Clinton on national television based on this individual’s information.” Cummings and Schiff said that the Justice Department provided them with a “detailed briefing” that “directly contradicts these Republican allegations.” Cummings and Schiff said Campbell never provided any evidence or made allegations regarding Clinton or the Clinton Foundation in any of their interactions with him. The ranking members claimed that the Justice Department stated that “at no point did [the individual] provide any allegation of corruption, illegality, or impropriety on Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton, the Uranium One deal, or CFIUS,” and said there were “no allegations of impropriety or illegality” regarding Clinton in the documents they reviewed. The Justice Department told Fox News they would not confirm whether the Schiff-Cummings characterization was accurate. Toensing disputed the Democrats' claims, calling Schiff "disingenuous." The Clinton Global Initiative did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill panned the informant claims, likening them to the controversial "Nunes memo" on alleged surveillance abuse released last week and newly released text messages between anti-Trump FBI officials. "Just this week the committee made clear that this secret informant charade was just that, a charade. Along with the widely debunked text-message-gate and Nunes' embarrassing memo episode, we have a trifecta of GOP-manufactured scandals designed to distract from their own President's problems and the threat to democracy he poses," he said in a statement.
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Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal

Postby smix » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:03 pm

Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/c ... mpany.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 23, 2015

Description: The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.” The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain. But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one. At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One. 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 United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show. The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting. Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors. In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said no one “has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.” He emphasized that multiple United States agencies, as well as the Canadian government, had signed off on the deal and that, in general, such matters were handled at a level below the secretary. “To suggest 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,” he added. American political campaigns are barred from accepting foreign donations. But foreigners may give to foundations in the United States. In the days since Mrs. Clinton announced her candidacy for president, the Clinton Foundation has announced changes meant to quell longstanding concerns about potential conflicts of interest in such donations; it has limited donations from foreign governments, with many, like Russia’s, barred from giving to all but its health care initiatives. That policy stops short of a more stringent agreement between Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration that was in effect while she was secretary of state. Either way, the Uranium One deal highlights the limits of such prohibitions. The foundation will continue to accept contributions from foreign sources whose interests, like Uranium One’s, may overlap with those of foreign governments, some of which may be at odds with the United States. When the Uranium One deal was approved, the geopolitical backdrop was far different from today’s. The Obama administration was seeking to “reset” strained relations with Russia. The deal was strategically important to Mr. Putin, who shortly after the Americans gave their blessing sat down for a staged interview with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko. “Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of U.S. reserves,” Mr. Kiriyenko told Mr. Putin. Now, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, the Moscow-Washington relationship is devolving toward Cold War levels, a point several experts made in evaluating a deal so beneficial to Mr. Putin, a man known to use energy resources to project power around the world. “Should we be concerned? Absolutely,” said Michael McFaul, who served under Mrs. Clinton as the American ambassador to Russia but said he had been unaware of the Uranium One deal until asked about it. “Do we want Putin to have a monopoly on this? Of course we don’t. We don’t want to be dependent on Putin for anything in this climate.”
A Seat at the Table
The path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in 2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side. The two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator. Within days of the visit, Mr. Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a preliminary deal giving it stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom. If the Kazakh deal was a major victory, UrAsia did not wait long before resuming the hunt. In 2007, it merged with Uranium One, a South African company with assets in Africa and Australia, in what was described as a $3.5 billion transaction. The new company, which kept the Uranium One name, was controlled by UrAsia investors including Ian Telfer, a Canadian who became chairman. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Giustra, whose personal stake in the deal was estimated at about $45 million, said he sold his stake in 2007. Soon, Uranium One began to snap up companies with assets in the United States. In April 2007, it announced the purchase of a uranium mill in Utah and more than 38,000 acres of uranium exploration properties in four Western states, followed quickly by the acquisition of the Energy Metals Corporation and its uranium holdings in Wyoming, Texas and Utah. That deal made clear that Uranium One was intent on becoming “a powerhouse in the United States uranium sector with the potential to become the domestic supplier of choice for U.S. utilities,” the company declared. Still, the company’s story was hardly front-page news in the United States — until early 2008, in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, when The Times published an article revealing the 2005 trip’s link to Mr. Giustra’s Kazakhstan mining deal. It also reported that several months later, Mr. Giustra had donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation. (In a statement issued after this article appeared online, Mr. Giustra said he was “extremely proud” of his charitable work with Mr. Clinton, and he urged the media to focus on poverty, health care and “the real challenges of the world.”) Though the 2008 article quoted the former head of Kazatomprom, Moukhtar Dzhakishev, as saying that the deal required government approval and was discussed at a dinner with the president, Mr. Giustra insisted that it was a private transaction, with no need for Mr. Clinton’s influence with Kazakh officials. He described his relationship with Mr. Clinton as motivated solely by a shared interest in philanthropy. As if to underscore the point, five months later Mr. Giustra held a fund-raiser for the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a project aimed at fostering progressive environmental and labor practices in the natural resources industry, to which he had pledged $100 million. The star-studded gala, at a conference center in Toronto, featured performances by Elton John and Shakira and celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Robin Williams encouraging contributions from the many so-called F.O.F.s — Friends of Frank — in attendance, among them Mr. Telfer. In all, the evening generated $16 million in pledges, according to an article in The Globe and Mail. “None of this would have been possible if Frank Giustra didn’t have a remarkable combination of caring and modesty, of vision and energy and iron determination,” Mr. Clinton told those gathered, adding: “I love this guy, and you should, too.” But what had been a string of successes was about to hit a speed bump.
Arrest and Progress
By June 2009, a little over a year after the star-studded evening in Toronto, Uranium One’s stock was in free-fall, down 40 percent. Mr. Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, had just been arrested on charges that he illegally sold uranium deposits to foreign companies, including at least some of those won by Mr. Giustra’s UrAsia and now owned by Uranium One. Publicly, the company tried to reassure shareholders. Its chief executive, Jean Nortier, issued a confident statement calling the situation a “complete misunderstanding.” He also contradicted Mr. Giustra’s contention that the uranium deal had not required government blessing. “When you do a transaction in Kazakhstan, you need the government’s approval,” he said, adding that UrAsia had indeed received that approval. But privately, Uranium One officials were worried they could lose their joint mining ventures. American diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks also reflect concerns that Mr. Dzhakishev’s arrest was part of a Russian power play for control of Kazakh uranium assets. At the time, Russia was already eying a stake in Uranium One, Rosatom company documents show. Rosatom officials say they were seeking to acquire mines around the world because Russia lacks sufficient domestic reserves to meet its own industry needs. It was against this backdrop that the Vancouver-based Uranium One pressed the American Embassy in Kazakhstan, as well as Canadian diplomats, to take up its cause with Kazakh officials, according to the American cables. “We want more than a statement to the press,” Paul Clarke, a Uranium One executive vice president, told the embassy’s energy officer on June 10, the officer reported in a cable. “That is simply chitchat.” What the company needed, Mr. Clarke said, was official written confirmation that the licenses were valid. The American Embassy ultimately reported to the secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton. Though the Clarke cable was copied to her, it was given wide circulation, and it is unclear if she would have read it; the Clinton campaign did not address questions about the cable. What is clear is that the embassy acted, with the cables showing that the energy officer met with Kazakh officials to discuss the issue on June 10 and 11. Three days later, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom completed a deal for 17 percent of Uranium One. And within a year, the Russian government substantially upped the ante, with a generous offer to shareholders that would give it a 51 percent controlling stake. But first, Uranium One had to get the American government to sign off on the deal.
The Power to Say No
When a company controlled by the Chinese government sought a 51 percent stake in a tiny Nevada gold mining operation in 2009, it set off a secretive review process in Washington, where officials raised concerns primarily about the mine’s proximity to a military installation, but also about the potential for minerals at the site, including uranium, to come under Chinese control. The officials killed the deal. Such is the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The committee comprises some of the most powerful members of the cabinet, including the attorney general, the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, and the secretary of state. They are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security. The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation; the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium. Instead, it concerned American dependence on foreign uranium sources. While the United States gets one-fifth of its electrical power from nuclear plants, it produces only around 20 percent of the uranium it needs, and most plants have only 18 to 36 months of reserves, according to Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America’s Grasp.” “The Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about it,” said Mr. Katusa, who explores the implications of the Uranium One deal in his book. “It’s not just a domestic issue but a foreign policy issue, too.” When ARMZ, an arm of Rosatom, took its first 17 percent stake in Uranium One in 2009, the two parties signed an agreement, found in securities filings, to seek the foreign investment committee’s review. But it was the 2010 deal, giving the Russians a controlling 51 percent stake, that set off alarm bells. Four members of the House of Representatives signed a letter expressing concern. Two more began pushing legislation to kill the deal. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, where Uranium One’s largest American operation was, wrote to President Obama, saying the deal “would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity.” “Equally alarming,” Mr. Barrasso added, “this sale gives ARMZ a significant stake in uranium mines in Kazakhstan.” Uranium One’s shareholders were also alarmed, and were “afraid of Rosatom as a Russian state giant,” Sergei Novikov, a company spokesman, recalled in an interview. He said Rosatom’s chief, Mr. Kiriyenko, sought to reassure Uranium One investors, promising that Rosatom would not break up the company and would keep the same management, including Mr. Telfer, the chairman. Another Rosatom official said publicly that it did not intend to increase its investment beyond 51 percent, and that it envisioned keeping Uranium One a public company, American nuclear officials, too, seemed eager to assuage fears. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote to Mr. Barrasso assuring him that American uranium would be preserved for domestic use, regardless of who owned it. “In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use as reactor fuel,” the letter said. Still, the ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton — whose husband was collecting millions in donations from people associated with Uranium One.
Undisclosed Donations
Before Mrs. Clinton could assume her post as secretary of state, the White House demanded that she sign a memorandum of understanding placing limits on the activities of her husband’s foundation. To avoid the perception of conflicts of interest, beyond the ban on foreign government donations, the foundation was required to publicly disclose all contributors. To judge from those disclosures — which list the contributions in ranges rather than precise amounts — the only Uranium One official to give to the Clinton Foundation was Mr. Telfer, the chairman, and the amount was relatively small: no more than $250,000, and that was in 2007, before talk of a Rosatom deal began percolating. But a review of tax records in Canada, where Mr. Telfer has a family charity called the Fernwood Foundation, shows that he donated millions of dollars more, during and after the critical time when the foreign investment committee was reviewing his deal with the Russians. With the Russians offering a special dividend, shareholders like Mr. Telfer stood to profit. His donations through the Fernwood Foundation included $1 million reported in 2009, the year his company appealed to the American Embassy to help it keep its mines in Kazakhstan; $250,000 in 2010, the year the Russians sought majority control; as well as $600,000 in 2011 and $500,000 in 2012. Mr. Telfer said that his donations had nothing to do with his business dealings, and that he had never discussed Uranium One with Mr. or Mrs. Clinton. He said he had given the money because he wanted to support Mr. Giustra’s charitable endeavors with Mr. Clinton. “Frank and I have been friends and business partners for almost 20 years,” he said. The Clinton campaign left it to the foundation to reply to questions about the Fernwood donations; the foundation did not provide a response. Mr. Telfer’s undisclosed donations came in addition to between $1.3 million and $5.6 million in contributions, which were reported, from a constellation of people with ties to Uranium One or UrAsia, the company that originally acquired Uranium One’s most valuable asset: the Kazakh mines. Without those assets, the Russians would have had no interest in the deal: “It wasn’t the goal to buy the Wyoming mines. The goal was to acquire the Kazakh assets, which are very good,” Mr. Novikov, the Rosatom spokesman, said in an interview. Amid this influx of Uranium One-connected money, Mr. Clinton was invited to speak in Moscow in June 2010, the same month Rosatom struck its deal for a majority stake in Uranium One. The $500,000 fee — among Mr. Clinton’s highest — was paid by Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that has invited world leaders, including Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, to speak at its investor conferences. Renaissance Capital analysts talked up Uranium One’s stock, assigning it a “buy” rating and saying in a July 2010 research report that it was “the best play” in the uranium markets. In addition, Renaissance Capital turned up that same year as a major donor, along with Mr. Giustra and several companies linked to Uranium One or UrAsia, to a small medical charity in Colorado run by a friend of Mr. Giustra’s. In a newsletter to supporters, the friend credited Mr. Giustra with helping get donations from “businesses around the world.” Renaissance Capital would not comment on the genesis of Mr. Clinton’s speech to an audience that included leading Russian officials, or on whether it was connected to the Rosatom deal. According to a Russian government news service, Mr. Putin personally thanked Mr. Clinton for speaking. A person with knowledge of the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising operation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about it, said that for many people, the hope is that money will in fact buy influence: “Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?” But whether it actually does is another question. And in this case, there were broader geopolitical pressures that likely came into play as the United States considered whether to approve the Rosatom-Uranium One deal.
Diplomatic Considerations
If doing business with Rosatom was good for those in the Uranium One deal, engaging with Russia was also a priority of the incoming Obama administration, which was hoping for a new era of cooperation as Mr. Putin relinquished the presidency — if only for a term — to Dmitri A. Medvedev. “The assumption was we could engage Russia to further core U.S. national security interests,” said Mr. McFaul, the former ambassador. It started out well. The two countries made progress on nuclear proliferation issues, and expanded use of Russian territory to resupply American forces in Afghanistan. Keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon was among the United States’ top priorities, and in June 2010 Russia signed off on a United Nations resolution imposing tough new sanctions on that country. Two months later, the deal giving ARMZ a controlling stake in Uranium One was submitted to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for review. Because of the secrecy surrounding the process, it is hard to know whether the participants weighed the desire to improve bilateral relations against the potential risks of allowing the Russian government control over the biggest uranium producer in the United States. The deal was ultimately approved in October, following what two people involved in securing the approval said had been a relatively smooth process. Not all of the committee’s decisions are personally debated by the agency heads themselves; in less controversial cases, deputy or assistant secretaries may sign off. But experts and former committee members say Russia’s interest in Uranium One and its American uranium reserves seemed to warrant attention at the highest levels. “This deal had generated press, it had captured the attention of Congress and it was strategically important,” said Richard Russell, who served on the committee during the George W. Bush administration. “When I was there invariably any one of those conditions would cause this to get pushed way up the chain, and here you had all three.” And Mrs. Clinton brought a reputation for hawkishness to the process; as a senator, she was a vocal critic of the committee’s approval of a deal that would have transferred the management of major American seaports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates, and as a presidential candidate she had advocated legislation to strengthen the process. The Clinton campaign spokesman, Mr. Fallon, said that in general, these matters did not rise to the secretary’s level. He would not comment on whether Mrs. Clinton had been briefed on the matter, but he gave The Times a statement from the former assistant secretary assigned to the foreign investment committee at the time, Jose Fernandez. While not addressing the specifics of the Uranium One deal, Mr. Fernandez said, “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter.” Mr. Fallon also noted that if any agency had raised national security concerns about the Uranium One deal, it could have taken them directly to the president. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department’s director of policy planning at the time, said she was unaware of the transaction — or the extent to which it made Russia a dominant uranium supplier. But speaking generally, she urged caution in evaluating its wisdom in hindsight. “Russia was not a country we took lightly at the time or thought was cuddly,” she said. “But it wasn’t the adversary it is today.” That renewed adversarial relationship has raised concerns about European dependency on Russian energy resources, including nuclear fuel. The unease reaches beyond diplomatic circles. In Wyoming, where Uranium One equipment is scattered across his 35,000-acre ranch, John Christensen is frustrated that repeated changes in corporate ownership over the years led to French, South African, Canadian and, finally, Russian control over mining rights on his property. “I hate to see a foreign government own mining rights here in the United States,” he said. “I don’t think that should happen.” Mr. Christensen, 65, noted that despite assurances by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that uranium could not leave the country without Uranium One or ARMZ obtaining an export license — which they do not have — yellowcake from his property was routinely packed into drums and trucked off to a processing plant in Canada. Asked about that, the commission confirmed that Uranium One has, in fact, shipped yellowcake to Canada even though it does not have an export license. Instead, the transport company doing the shipping, RSB Logistic Services, has the license. A commission spokesman said that “to the best of our knowledge” most of the uranium sent to Canada for processing was returned for use in the United States. A Uranium One spokeswoman, Donna Wichers, said 25 percent had gone to Western Europe and Japan. At the moment, with the uranium market in a downturn, nothing is being shipped from the Wyoming mines. The “no export” assurance given at the time of the Rosatom deal is not the only one that turned out to be less than it seemed. Despite pledges to the contrary, Uranium One was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange and taken private. As of 2013, Rosatom’s subsidiary, ARMZ, owned 100 percent of it.
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Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta

Postby smix » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:10 pm

Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta
NBC News

URL: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mu ... ta-n812776
Category: Politics
Published: October 23, 2017

Description: WASHINGTON — Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta's company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine's image in the West. The sources said the investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort's role in the campaign, but has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA. Under FARA, people who lobby on behalf of foreign governments, leaders or political parties must file detailed disclosures about their spending and activities with the Justice Department. Willful failure to file the forms is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison, though such prosecutions are rare. The Podesta Group amended its FARA registration to accurately reflect its work with ECMU only after the payments were reported by the media. Manafort's firm also filed a FARA registration after media reports in June disclosed its work in Ukraine from 2012 through 2014. The ECMU was reportedly backed by the Party of Regions, the pro-Russian and oligarch-funded Ukrainian political party for which Manafort worked as a consultant, and which paid his firm millions. Viktor Yanukovych of the Party of Regions, a Manafort client, was president of Ukraine during the ECMU campaign, which ran from 2012 to 2014. He fled the country in 2014. Tony Podesta is the chairman of the Podesta Group and the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman. John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not part of Mueller's investigation. In a statement, a spokesman for the Podesta Group said the firm "is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel's office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times — and we did so in this case." A spokesperson for Mueller's office declined to comment. In late August, NBC News reported that Special Counsel Mueller's team sent subpoenas to six firms who were involved in public relations lobbying for ECMU. The subpoenas sought testimony from public relations executives who worked on the campaign organized by Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News. One source with knowledge of the investigation said that federal investigators have now met with several former staffers of the various firms involved in the ECMU campaign. Mueller's team is closely examining the lobbying campaign, which ran between 2012 and 2014. Six firms participated in the public relations effort that Manafort coordinated, paid for by the Brussels-based ECMU. The stated goal was to build support for Ukraine's entry into the European Union, the same source said. Two of the firms, Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, worked in Washington with Manafort partner Rick Gates, according to lobbying disclosure records. Three other firms worked in Europe, the executive said. NBC News could not confirm the identity of those three. Manafort, whose Alexandria, Virginia, apartment was raided by FBI agents in July, has emerged as a key figure in the Mueller probe. The inquiry into the lobbying campaign appears to be part of a larger investigation into his work for the Party of Regions, his offshore banking transactions, his tax compliance and his real estate dealings, people familiar with the probe have told NBC News. The Associated Press first revealed the pro-Ukraine lobbying campaign in August 2016, while Manafort was still running the Trump campaign. Manafort left the campaign within days. The report said the ECMU campaign was designed to sway public opinion and included attempts to solicit favorable press coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
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Exclusive: Secret witness in Senate Clinton probe is ex-lobbyist for Russian firm

Postby smix » Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:50 am

Exclusive: Secret witness in Senate Clinton probe is ex-lobbyist for Russian firm
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1DG1SB
Category: Politics
Published: November 16, 2017

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Republicans say their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s role in approving a deal to sell U.S. uranium mines to a Russian company hinges in part on the testimony of a secret informant in a bribery and extortion scheme inside the same company. The Senate committee searching for Clinton’s alleged wrongdoing is keeping their witness’s name cloaked. However, William D. Campbell, a lobbyist, confirmed to Reuters he is the informant who will testify and provide documents to Congress about the Obama Administration’s 2010 approval of the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with uranium mines in the United States, to Russia’s Rosatom. At the time of the sale, Campbell was a confidential source for the FBI in a Maryland bribery and kickback investigation of the head of a U.S. unit of Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear power company. Campbell was identified as an FBI informant by prosecutors in open court and by himself in a publicly available lawsuit he filed last year. In a telephone interview, Campbell said he wanted to testify because of his concerns about Russia’s activities in the United States, but declined to comment further. Campbell’s lawyer, Victoria Toensing, who has not previously identified her client, said despite Campbell telling the government ”how corrupt the company was,” Rosatom still got permission to buy Uranium One. She did not say what Campbell would reveal regarding any alleged wrongdoing by Clinton. Clinton has said the Senate probe is an attempt to shift attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged role in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. As the heat from Mueller’s investigation has intensified, Trump has repeatedly called for an inquiry into Clinton and the Russian uranium deal. “This latest iteration is simply more of the Right doing Trump’s bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems,” said Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman. Some people who know Campbell are skeptical that he can shed much light on Uranium One. Two law enforcement officials with direct involvement in the Rosatom bribery case in which Campbell was an informant said they had no recollection or record of him mentioning the deal during their repeated interviews with him. Also, although both Uranium One and the bribery cases involved Rosatom, the two cases involved different business units, executives and allegations, with little other apparent overlap, Reuters found in a review of the court records of the bribery case. Campbell countered those who dismiss his knowledge of the Uranium One deal. “I have worked with the Justice Department undercover for several years, and documentation relating to Uranium One and political influence does exist and I have it,” Campbell said. He declined to give details of those documents. Reuters was unable to learn when the closed-door testimony has been scheduled. Trump asked that a Justice Department gag order on Campbell stemming from the bribery case be lifted so that he can testify to congressional investigators, White House officials said. The Justice Department has partially lifted that gag order.
CAMPBELL TESTIMONY ‘CRITICAL’
Campbell potentially now has a larger starring role in the Washington drama after the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress on Monday that it was considering appointing a special prosecutor to launch an investigation into Republican allegations of wrongdoing by Clinton, Trump’s former political rival, in the deal. Under Clinton, the State Department was part of a nine-agency government Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that approved the purchase of Uranium One. Her critics, including Trump, allege large donations by people connected to the Uranium One deal made to her family’s foundation influenced the State Department’s decision to approve it. Reuters has no evidence that Clinton orchestrated the approval of Uranium One. In an email, Rosatom said the company had made no donations to the Clinton Foundation and had not asked others to do so. The foundation stressed the State Department was only one member of the committee that approved the deal and said Clinton had no personal involvement in the decision. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said in a letter to Toensing, Campbell’s lawyer, that her client appears to have information “critical to the Committee’s oversight of the Justice Department and its ongoing inquiry into the manner in which” the Uranium One sale was approved.
BRIBERY SCHEME
Campbell worked as an informant for federal authorities investigating Vadim Mikerin, a Russian official in charge of U.S. operations for Tenex, a unit of Rosatom. Authorities later accused Mikerin of taking bribes from a shipping company in exchange for contracts to transport Russian uranium into the United States. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Maryland and was sentenced to prison for four years. The Justice Department had also initially charged Mikerin with extorting kickbacks from Campbell after hiring him as a $50,000-a-month lobbyist. Prosecutors alleged Mikerin had demanded Campbell pay between one-third and half of that money back to him each month under threat of losing the contract and veiled warnings of violence from the Russians. The demand prompted Campbell to turn to the FBI in 2010, which gave its blessing for him to remain part of the scheme. Federal prosecutors were ready to use Campbell as a star witness against Mikerin, but they backed away after defense attorneys raised questions about Campbell’s credibility and whether he was a victim or had “entered into a business arrangement with eyes wide open,” according to court records. Before it was taken down last year, the website of Campbell’s company, Sigma Transnational, did not suggest his firm was a lobbying powerhouse. The website listed four other employees and advisers, although one had died years earlier. A second employee listed said in a court document that she never worked for the company but had agreed in 2014 to pay Campbell to list her as an employee and allow her to use the Sigma name in a business deal. Campbell declined to comment on the staffing or his lobbying contract with Tenex. Prosecutors dropped the extortion charges against Mikerin and never mentioned Campbell again in any charging documents. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the case. Campbell also declined to comment on the issue. Reuters has been unable to learn why Tenex chose Campbell as its lobbyist. He acknowledged in lawsuit he filed in 2016 that he was hired despite the fact he “had no experience with nuclear fuel sales.”



Republicans seek to question FBI officials in Clinton probe: letter
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1EE0A6
Category: Politics
Published: December 20, 2017

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Republican lawmakers told the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday that they want to question three senior FBI officials about an investigation of then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her handling of classified information while she was secretary of state. The lawmakers, who are leading a joint probe into the Clinton investigation, said in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, that they wanted to speak with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki and FBI counsel Lisa Page beginning on Thursday. The FBI declined to comment on the letter and referred reporters to the Justice Department. The request to meet the FBI officials for “transcribed interviews” was made after Republicans obtained more than 300 text messages sent last year between Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok critical of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The text messages called him an “idiot” and “a loathsome human,” among other things, according to copies reviewed by Reuters. Strzok later worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election and ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Moscow denies U.S. allegations of election meddling and Trump denies any campaign collusion. Strzok, who helped lead the investigation of Clinton’s handling of classified material, was removed from Mueller’s team after the special counsel became aware of the texts critical of Trump. Republican lawmakers have attacked Mueller, expressing concern about potential bias among his investigators. But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has testified to lawmakers that he was “not aware” of any impropriety by Mueller’s team. Representative Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, are conducting a joint review of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation. In their letter to Sessions and Rosenstein, they said they were looking into several decisions by the FBI during the Clinton investigation, including then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision not refer Clinton’s case for prosecution.



U.S. charges Maryland businessman with bribing Russian official
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1F12QS
Category: Politics
Published: January 12, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have charged a Maryland businessman with bribing a Russian official in an effort to win contracts to ship uranium to the United States. U.S. prosecutors unsealed money laundering, foreign bribery and wire fraud charges against Mark Lambert, 54, in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Friday. Lambert denies the allegations and plans to fight them in court, his attorney William Sullivan said during a pre-trial hearing. Prosecutors allege Lambert, former co-president of a Maryland-based shipping company Transport Logistics International (TLI), bribed a Russian energy official through a series of shell companies in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland in exchange for contracts to ship nuclear fuel to U.S. utilities. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime for businesses to bribe overseas officials to win business. TLI executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. For decades, Washington and Moscow had an agreement that converted uranium from Russia’s nuclear stockpiles to civilian grade fuel, which was shipped to the United States for use in civilian power plants. The charges are the latest chapter in a sprawling federal investigation into corruption involved in Russia’s sale of uranium into the United States. The uranium investigation drew increased public attention last year after an informant involved in the probe claimed to have evidence tying the former Obama Administration to Russian influence peddling, a charge former administration officials have denied. In 2015, a Maryland judge sentenced the Russian official named in the case, Vadim Mikerin, a former director at state-owned Rosatom, to four years for laundering money connected to the bribes. Lambert’s former co-president Daren Condrey pleaded guilty to bribery and wire fraud charges in 2015 and is awaiting sentencing.



Senator says FBI lost crucial texts tied to Clinton probe
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1FA15O
Category: Politics
Published: January 21, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has lost about five months worth of text messages between two staffers who worked on probes into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to a Republican lawmaker. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, revealed in a Jan. 20 letter that the FBI’s technical system failed to preserve texts that were exchanged between Lisa Page, a lawyer, and Peter Strzok, an agent, between mid-December 2016 through mid-May of 2017. A spokesman for the FBI and a spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment. Congressional Republicans have been focusing on Strzok and Page in recent weeks after learning the two had exchanged anti-Trump text messages on their work-issued cell phones. Republicans have said the texts, which referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human,” raised concerns the FBI is biased against Trump and may have given Clinton favorable treatment after deciding not to recommend criminal charges in connection with the probe into her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state. Strzok and Page were involved in that investigation and also were briefly assigned to work with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia investigation. After Mueller learned about the texts, Strzok was re-assigned to a different post. Page’s 45-day detail on Mueller’s team ended in July. In his letter, Johnson said he learned of the software problem from the FBI on Jan. 19, after it gave 384 texts to the committee, one of several in Congress that recently launched inquiries into how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation. “The loss of records from this period is concerning because it is apparent from other records that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page communicated frequently about the investigation,” Johnson wrote. He cited examples, including an exchange between Strzok and Page that took place in May 2016, after it became apparent that Trump would likely be the Republican presidential candidate. “Now the pressure really starts to finish [midyear exam],” Strzok wrote, in what Johnson’s letter says is a reference to the Clinton investigation. “It sure does,” Page responded. In his letter, Johnson asked the FBI to follow up with more details about the scope of the lost records, and to tell the committee whether it has conducted searches of their non-government issued devices.



U.S. attorney general orders probe of FBI agents' text messages
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1FC2OQ
Category: Politics
Published: January 23, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered an investigation into missing text messages exchanged between two Federal Bureau of Investigation staffers accused of expressing views against President Donald Trump, the Justice Department said. Texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017, are among a broader batch of missing phone messages that the FBI’s system failed to store because of a software upgrade glitch on many Samsung 5 cellphones. Republicans have said the texts, which referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human,” raise concerns the FBI is biased against Trump and may have given Hillary Clinton, his Democratic presidential rival, favorable treatment after deciding not to recommend criminal charges in connection with the investigation of her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state. Strzok and Page were involved in that investigation and were briefly assigned to work with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Media reports said the texts between them were exchanged on FBI-issued phones during the course of an alleged extramarital affair. Mueller was appointed on May 17, the same day when some of the text messages were not properly stored. “We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source,” Sessions said in a statement. Several congressional Democrats on Tuesday blasted Republican attacks on the FBI, saying the same people they were accusing of bias against Trump actually helped him, after the FBI disclosed it was reopening the Clinton probe just weeks before the November 2016 presidential election. “These Republican attacks show their desperation at the fact that Mueller already has obtained two guilty pleas, two indictments, and at least two cooperating witnesses,” the senior Democrats on the House of Representatives Judiciary, Oversight and Intelligence committees said in a joint statement. Six congressional committees learned about the missing texts last Friday after they had initially requested copies of Strzok’s and Page’s texts between July 2015 and July 2017. The failures by the FBI’s system to store the messages were initially uncovered by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who is in the midst of a broad review into whether the FBI made missteps in its handling of the Clinton investigation. After the inspector general informed Mueller over the summer about the texts, Strzok was removed from the team and reassigned. Page completed her 45-day detail on Mueller’s team in July. “I am pleased to hear that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to launch an investigation into what happened to those texts, and I hope they are uncovered,” Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte told Fox News Channel. “They illustrate a conspiracy on the part of some people and we want to know a lot more about that.”



DOJ inspector general report cites FBI's McCabe for misconduct
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1HK2N4
Category: Politics
Published: April 13, 2018

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general disclosed a report on Friday that concluded that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had repeatedly misled investigators about his role in giving information to a reporter. The report, delivered to lawmakers on Friday, details an investigation that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited when he fired McCabe last month, hours before McCabe was set to retire and receive his full pension. President Donald Trump had accused McCabe of bias, and the president’s critics said McCabe was being fired as part of a Republican effort to discredit a federal probe into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign. The report, authored by inspector general Michael Horowitz, says McCabe “lacked candor” in conversations with then FBI Director James Comey and other officials about his role in providing information to a Wall Street Journal reporter about an probe into Hillary Clinton. McCabe, who has argued he was being singled out because he was a witness into whether Trump tried to obstruct the federal probe, said in a statement on Friday he was authorized to share that information with reporters and had not intentionally misled anyone. “McCabe had no motive to lie or mislead about media contacts he had the authority to direct,” McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, said in an emailed statement.
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FBI Informant Has Video Of Russian Agents With Bribe Money In Clinton-Uranium One Scandal

Postby smix » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:06 pm

FBI Informant Has Video Of Russian Agents With Bribe Money In Clinton-Uranium One Scandal
Infowars

URL: https://www.infowars.com/fbi-informant- ... e-scandal/
Category: Politics
Published: November 18, 2017

Description: Russians compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats
An undercover FBI informant in the Russian nuclear industry who was made to sign an “illegal NDA” by former AG Loretta Lynch, claims to have video evidence showing Russian agents with briefcases full of bribe money related to the controversial Uranium One deal – according to The Hill investigative journalist John Solomon and Circa‘s Sara Carter. The informant, whose identity was revealed by Reuters as William D. Campbell, will testify before congress next week after the NDA which carried the threat of prison time was lifted. Campbell, originally misidentifed by Reuters as a lobbyist is actually a nuclear industry consultant who is currently battling cancer. As previously reported, Campbell was deeply embedded in the Russian nuclear industry where he gathered extensive evidence of a racketeering scheme involving bribes and kickbacks. “The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials. –The Hill Campbell’s attorney, former Regan Justice Department official Victoria Toensing, previously told Fox Business host Lou Dobbs “He can tell what all the Russians were talking about during the time that all these bribery payments were made.” Sara Carter and John Solomon sat down with Fox News host Sean Hannity to discuss:



Sarah Carter: He’s very sick and he’s been battling cancer and going chemo. He is in a battle for not only his life, but in a battle against what he perceives as people within the US government that don’t want this story to come out. But there’s so much information that he is willing to share with the public to set the record straight, and believe me we’re gonna get it out there. He is going to have his say. His voice will be heard.
Hannity: He knew about the bribery, kickbacks, extortion of Putin’s agents in the US?
Sara Carter: Yes, and he will be able to lay that all out for everyone, and he will do that for Congress. John and I have been working on this for months and months and months. He came to the [Obama] DOJ with this information.
John Solomon: He is going to be an extraordinary fact witness because he gathered so much information. There are videotapes where the Russians are opening up briefcases full of cash. These are the people we then gave uranium to, that we then gave nuclear fuel contracts to.
Hannity: This is happening before they sign off on Uranium One? They knew about bribery extortion kickbacks money laundering before? They knew this was Putin and they did it anyway!
John Solomon: Yes. The Russians really thought they had played America on this one.
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FBI agent dismissed from Mueller probe changed Comey's description of Clinton to 'extremely careless'

Postby smix » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:11 am

FBI agent dismissed from Mueller probe changed Comey's description of Clinton to 'extremely careless'
CNN

URL: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/politics/ ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: December 4, 2017

Description: Washington (CNN) - A former top counterintelligence expert at the FBI, now at the center of a political uproar for exchanging private messages that appeared to mock President Donald Trump, changed a key phrase in former FBI Director James Comey's description of how former secretary of state Hillary Clinton handled classified information, according to US officials familiar with the matter. Electronic records show Peter Strzok, who led the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server as the No. 2 official in the counterintelligence division, changed Comey's earlier draft language describing Clinton's actions as "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," the sources said. The drafting process was a team effort, CNN is told, with a handful of people reviewing the language as edits were made, according to another US official familiar with the matter. The shift from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," which may appear pedestrian at first glance, reflected a decision by the FBI that could have had potentially significant legal implications, as the federal law governing the mishandling of classified material establishes criminal penalties for "gross negligence." Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, raised questions over why the change was made after receiving documents from the FBI last month, but the identity of who was behind the edit has not been reported until now. CNN has also learned that Strzok was the FBI official who signed the document officially opening an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to sources familiar with the matter. As the No. 2 official in counterintelligence, Strzok was considered to be one of the bureau's top experts on Russia. But the news of Strzok's direct role in the statement that ultimately cleared the former Democratic presidential candidate of criminal wrongdoing, now combined with the fact that he was dismissed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team after exchanging private messages with an FBI lawyer that could be seen as favoring Clinton politically, may give ammunition to those seeking ways to discredit Mueller's Russia investigation. The FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment. CNN reported in November that Comey and his FBI colleagues were "playing with the language" throughout the process of drafting Comey's statement on Clinton, believing that they needed to condemn the former secretary of state's handling of classified information, while also making clear they would not recommend criminal charges, according to a source familiar with the FBI decision. Comey ultimately called Clinton's conduct "extremely careless," but said "no reasonable prosecutor" would pursue charges based on the evidence. "Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," Comey said back in July 2016. Grassley said that documents the FBI provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in November included an earlier draft of Comey's exoneration statement from May 2016, which stated: "There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the private email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified material." Grassley then asked for the electronic "metadata," which would include "who created the original drafts, who made the edits to the draft statement, and when those edits were made." Sources familiar with the requests tell CNN that Grassley has received the metadata, but he wants the FBI to provide further explanation about the changes. Grassley's office did not return a request for comment.
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