The Hill this morning broke what could be a very big news story, if anyone is willing to follow up on it. As is often the case with these kinds of stories, it bears watching if the reporting falls apart somehow, but as of yet, it seems there’s almost no pushback out there. You can see why Democrats would not be eager to talk about this one:
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] 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.
This was back during the period when the Obama Administration and Secretary Clinton were touting a “reset” of relations with Russia; it was years before Obama mocked Mitt Romney’s concerns about the Russian threat with his famous “the 80s called” sneer. Yet, it now appears that the Obama Administration knew a lot more than it let on,
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 benefiting 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…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.
At a minimum, as Noah Rothman notes, the involvement of key members of the current Trump-Russia probe in conducting this investigation will play right into Trump’s hands in his campaign to discredit the investigation, and Democrats thus far seem likely to just circle the wagons against any further inquiry for that reason as well as how this reflects on the Clintons, Eric Holder, and the Obama Administration’s Russia policy. But the national security implications run deeper than that, and as Ed Morrissey observes, Congress ought to dig in further to see what else it wasn’t told:
House Intelligence chair Mike Rogers claimed to the Hill that no one ever mentioned the case at all to him, despite already-extant concerns over the Uranium One deal on Capitol Hill.
That smells like a political cover-up of the first magnitude. Rather than hyperventilate over Facebook ads and Twitter trolls, perhaps Congress and the current Department of Justice should look into what the FBI found in 2009-10, how much of it benefited Bill and Hillary Clinton — and why the DoJ and the Obama administration never briefed the intelligence committees on this Russian collusion operation.
Washington has an unfortunate tendency to back off investigations when there are skeletons on both sides of the partisan aisle. But a thorough airing of Russia’s multifaceted efforts to penetrate and disrupt American institutions (including the media) over the past decade is necessary in order to counter the threat of the Kremlin’s “war by other means” doctrine. Let the chips fall where they may.