Report: DOJ Prosecutors Probe FBI Agents About Uranium One Deal, Clinton Connections
Prosecutors with the Department of Justice (DOJ) have begun asking FBI agents to explain newly uncovered evidence surrounding the 2010 Uranium One deal and alleged corruption with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
New documents released by an anonymous informant in October brought the case back into the spotlight, suggesting that any Clinton-Russia collusion is worse than the alleged Trump-Russia collusion driving the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
An assistant attorney general made a promise to Congress last month to investigate whether a special counsel was warranted to look into the case, a senior DOJ official told NBC News. Sources have confirmed that the investigation is underway.
President Donald Trump has drawn attention to the case. "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 in October.
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). At the same time, Russians paid former president Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in Moscow hosted by Sberbank, a Russian bank promoting Uranium One stock at the time, and Hillary Clinton approved the deal in her role as secretary of State.
To make matters worse, the FBI had already reportedly gathered evidence of Russian corruption in the U.S. uranium industry but kept it secret right when it would have mattered most.
At the time, Uranium One had two licensed mining operations in Wyoming amounting to about 20 percent of all U.S. uranium mining. Because enriched uranium is a key component of nuclear weapons, the deal required national security review from the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), on which Hillary Clinton was one of nine members.
At the time, the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan warned Clinton's State Department that Rosatom was acting on behalf of Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, to acquire uranium mines after Russia felt "squeezed" by having their uranium imports limited by other countries.
As the Russians took Uranium One, the firm's Canadian chairman Ian Telfer gave four donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013. The Clinton Foundation did not publicly disclose these funds, The New York Times reported in 2015. Others associated with Uranium One also gave to the Clinton Foundation.
A key Clinton Foundation player also helped Uranium One grow in the years before the 2010 deal. Frank Giustra, who has donated more than $100 million to the Clinton Foundation and now sits on the foundation's board, served as chairman of UrAsia, a company bidding for uranium rights in Kazakhstan.
In 2005, Giustra and Bill Clinton attended a dinner with the country's president. UrAsia closed deals for uranium mining rights in Kazakhstan later that year, and Giustra donated $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation in 2006.
UrAsia shares skyrocketed seventyfold between 2005 and 2007, and merged with Uranium One in 2007. Giustra said he sold his shares and left UrAsia shortly after it merged with Uranium One.
"In late 2005, I went to Kazakhstan to finish the negotiations of the sale," Giustra said. "Bill Clinton flew to Almaty a few days later I arrived in the country on another person's plane ... Bill Clinton had nothing to do with the purchase of private mining stakes by a Canadian company."
Defenders of the Uranium One deal argue that the Russians don't have a license to export the uranium out of the U.S., and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found no risk to national security. Clinton herself said she was not involved in the deliberations and played no role in the decision.
"Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter," Jose Fernandez, a former assistant secretary of state, told the Times in 2015.
Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill insisted that any corruption associated with the Uranium One deal is a "debunked" story.
"At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits," Merrill told NB News. "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."
Stewart Baker, a former lawyer in the George W. Bush administration and a CFIUS expert, said he doubted that the Uranium One deal ever reached Clinton's desk.
"Is it possible that the Russians thought they needed to do this and that it would help them? Yeah, but that doesn't mean that it actually did," Baker said. He noted that Eric Holder, attorney general under President Obama, ordered a new investigation into CIA interrogations carried out under President Bush after prosecutors had filed no charges against the Bush administration.
Interestingly, the FBI rushed to arrest a Russian spy ring getting close to Hillary Clinton at the time of the Uranium One deal.
The Mueller investigation is arguably a case of "lawfare" against the Trump administration, similar to the Obama investigation into the Bush CIA and similar to the pending Uranium One investigation into Hillary Clinton. Political opponents often engage in legal investigations as an attempt to discredit their political enemies.
The Clinton camp's response to Uranium One investigations — that this is a "debunked" story distracting from real matters of national security — mimics the Trump deflections on the Mueller investigation well.
It may be that analysts on the Right rush to connect the breadcrumbs in Uranium One in much the same way as analysts on the Left rush to connect the breadcrumbs in Trump-Russia. The evidence for bribery in the case of Uranium One seems much more firmly established than the evidence for treason in Trump-Russia, however.
Interestingly, Mueller was at the helm of the FBI during the Uranium One deal, and may have been involved in hiding and downplaying the Russia uranium scandals at the time. PJ Media's Roger Simon has called for Mueller to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation for this reason.
In any case, if Mueller is going to drag out the Trump-Russia investigation, why should Sessions' DOJ not investigate Uranium One? Clinton's Russia connections are at least as bad as Trump's alleged collusion. Shouldn't the public be allowed to learn more?