Here’s what the FBI knew before Obama struck nuclear deals with Russia — and it looks bad

Here’s what the FBI knew before Obama struck nuclear deals with Russia — and it looks bad
A new report indicates that the FBI had evidence of corruption in the Russian nuclear industry when the Obama administration struck two deals that benefitted Russia's nuclear interests. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2010 and 2011, former President Barack Obama’s administration made two significant deals that aided Russia’s nuclear ambitions.

However, Russian nuclear officials were actively involved in a racketeering scheme with an American uranium trucking company, resulting in kickbacks to Russian officials. During that same time period, money was routed from Russia to former President Bill Clinton’s foundation — while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

The FBI had evidence of all this in 2009 — before Obama made the nuclear deals with Russia, according to a report released Tuesday by The Hill.

The deals with Russia

In October 2010, the State Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment (which Hillary Clinton served on) approved the partial sale of Uranium One, a Canadian mining company, to Russian nuclear company Rosatom, which resulted in Moscow controlling more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

In 2011, the Obama administration approved a subsidiary of Rosatom to sell uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants. Before, the subsidiary could only sell reprocessed uranium from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons.

What the FBI knew in 2009

“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.”

  • Vadim Mikerin, the primary Russian overseeing President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear expansion in the U.S., “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.”
  • Mikerin, who was a director of Rosatom with oversight of the company’s nuclear collaboration with the U.S., supervised a racketeering scheme involving extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks at the direction of and benefit to senior Russian officials.
  • Mikerin would offer no-bid contracts to U.S. businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of payments to offshore bank accounts, then sharing proceeds with other co-conspirators in Russia and elsewhere.

Why this looks bad

  • Despite the evidence obtained by 2009, the Department of Justice did not bring charges for almost four years. So, neither Congress nor the public was aware of the Russian corruption when the Obama administration made the previously mentioned nuclear deals.
  • Author Peter Schweitzer and the New York Times revealed in 2015 that Bill Clinton had collected hundreds of thousands in Russian speaking fees, and his foundation collected millions from parties with interest in the nuclear deal. Hillary Clinton was on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at that time.
  • The Obama administration and the Clintons denied that there was any evidence of Russian wrongdoing, and insisted there was no reason for anyone to oppose the deal. This is contradicted by court documents showing evidence of corruption going back to 2009.
  • Despite evidence showing criminal activity by Mikerin dating back to 2009, federal prosecutors only cited transactions in 2011 and 2012 in the plea agreement — transactions that took place after the nuclear deals.

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