Contrary to the Left’s favorite narrative, any Russia scandal has always been worse for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. Recent revelations confirmed this Tuesday, and even implicated the special prosecutor at the center of the Trump-Russia investigation, former FBI director Robert Mueller.
In 2010, the Obama administration approved a controversial deal giving Russian company Rosatom partial control of Canadian mining company Uranium One (and with it 20 percent of U.S. uranium), just as Russians paid former president Bill Clinton for speeches and Hillary Clinton was secretary of State. To make matters worse, the FBI had already gathered evidence of Russian corruption in the U.S. but kept it secret just when it would have mattered most, The Hill reported Tuesday.
A confidential U.S. witness working in the Russian nuclear industry helped federal agents gather financial records, make secret recordings, and intercept email starting in 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised U.S. trucking company Transport Logistics International, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Officials also acquired documents and an eyewitness account corroborating earlier reports that Russian officials had routed million of dollars into the U.S. to benefit the Clinton Foundation just as Hillary Clinton served on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which endorsed the Uranium One deal.
This racketeering scheme was allegedly conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds,” The Hill reported.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) did not bring immediate charges upon learning of the corruption in 2010, but kept investigating the matter for nearly four more years, leaving the American public and Congress in the dark.
Knowledge of Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil would have been vital to preventing the disastrous 2010 Uranium One deal, but it also might have prevented a lesser known approval in 2011. That year, the Obama administration approved a request from Rosatom’s subsidiary Tenex, allowing it to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants (in addition to reprocessed uranium from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons sold under the Megatons to Megawatts program).
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill. “And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions.”
Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Trump-Russia investigation, was at the helm of the FBI from 2001 until 2013, so it seems likely he was culpable in keeping this investigation secret — at the very time when it would have been most pivotal for U.S. national security.
A man who may be responsible for allowing tremendous Russian corruption on U.S. soil to continue — and even intensify — during the Obama administration is now leading the investigation into potential Russian connections involving the man who ran for president against Obama’s legacy. Conflict of interest, much?
In 2015, conservative author Peter Schweitzer published a blistering story in The New York Times uncovering Clinton’s connections to and benefits from the 2010 Uranium One purchase. The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their authorization of that purchase by insisting that there was no evidence any Russians or donors to the Clinton Foundation engaged in wrongdoing. They also argued that there was no national security reason to oppose the Uranium One deal.
According to documents from the FBI, Energy Department, and court proceedings, however, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the Russian overseer of Putin’s U.S. nuclear expansion — was engaged in wrongdoing since 2009.
Mikerin directed Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, and he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the U.S. under the Megatons to Megawatts program. In 2010, he acquired a U.S. work visa to open Rosatom’s new American arm, Tenam.
According to a November 2014 indictment, 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” between 2009 and 2012.
His conduct was discovered with the help of a confidential witness who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction, with the permission of the FBI. The first recorded kickback payment was dated November 27, 2009.
Energy Department Agent David Gadren testified that, “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.”
The investigation was supervised by then-U.S. attorney (and currently President Trump’s deputy attorney general) Rod Rosenstein, then-assistant FBI director (and now deputy FBI director) Andrew McCabe, and then-FBI director Robert Mueller. All three of these men play key roles in the Trump-Russia investigation.
The FBI investigation, kept secret from the American public just when the Obama administration made key international business decisions, also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin signed a contract giving American trucking firm Transport Logistics International the rights to transport Russia’s uranium around the U.S. — in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from executives.
Uncovering and blocking such a massive Russian nuclear bribery scheme would seem like a pivotal success for the DOJ and FBI, but they took little credit for the investigation when Mikerin, the Russian financier, and the trucking firm executives were arrested in 2014.
A full year later, the DOJ put out a press release unveiling the defendants’ plea deals. At that time, the case against Mikerin consisted of a single charge of money laundering for a scheme from 2004 to 2014. Although agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing since 2009, federal prosecutors only cited a handful of transactions in 2011 and 2012 in the plea agreement. These came well after the Uranium One deal.
The final court case also made no mention of the Russian attempts to peddle influence with the Clintons, which the FBI undercover informant witnessed, despite the documents showing millions of dollars sent from Russian nuclear businesses to an American entity connected to the Clinton Foundation.
Only in December 2015 did the Justice Department announce Mikerin’s sentence of 48 months in prison and the forfeiture of more than $2.1 million. The release referred to him as “a former Russian official residing in Maryland.”
Ronald Hosko, then-assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases, told The Hill he did not recall being briefed about Mikerin’s case, despite the criminal charges. “I had no idea this case was being conducted,” he said.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), then-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also told The Hill he had not been briefed about the Russian nuclear corruption case.
“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators … has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them,” Rogers said.
In light of such a scandal, it seems particularly damning that members of the intelligence community have been shamelessly leaking allegations against Donald Trump involving potential Russian connections. Every story in this direction turns out to be a dead end.
Most recently, the Russian-backed Facebook ads turned out not only to support Hillary Clinton and Black Lives Matter, but to have a tiny impact on the election as a whole. In fact, Democrat senators like Richard Blumenthal made fools of themselves in a fruitless attempt to pin these ads on the Trump campaign.
Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount that the Obama administration wiretapped key leaders in the Trump campaign, most notably Paul Manafort, and may have spied on Trump himself in doing so.
The real Russia scandal has been a Clinton scandal, from 2010 onward — and now, in a darkly ironic twist of fate, it involves the very former FBI director responsible for investigating that elusive “collusion” between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. It seems the Left’s attempts to hide their own corruption by pinning it on Trump may be coming to an end.