The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), has launched an investigation into a Russian nuclear bribery case. The committee is questioning whether a 2010 government transaction dealing with Russia and uranium threatened national security.
Grassley’s committee is demanding ten federal agencies to disclose whether they knew that the FBI had uncovered the corruption before the Obama administration approved a controversial uranium deal with Moscow in 2010. Grassley will raise this issue publicly on Wednesday as he questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an oversight hearing.
Grassley wrote in recent letters that he no longer accepts the Obama administration’s assurances given in 2015 that there was no basis to block the deal with a company called Uranium One.
“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.”
A story was recently published by “The Hill” that said the FBI had uncovered evidence showing that Russian nuclear officials were taking part in a racketeering scheme involving bribes, kickbacks and money laundering. This scheme was designed to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business on U.S. soil.
Evidence of potential criminal behavior was first gathered in 2009 and 2010, but charges were not brought to Justice officials until 2014. In the years between, Obama’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) gave the Russian company Rosatom approval to buy a Canadian mining company called Uranium One. This company controlled 20 percent of America’s uranium deposits. Committee members at that time included Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
It was 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. 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. Both Clintons have continually insisted no donations raised by the foundation ever influenced her decisions as secretary of state.
Grassley is determined to find out if the CFIUS was aware of the FBI investigation before they voted to allow Russia to buy Uranium One. He is also concerned that the corruption that was uncovered posed such a national security threat that any deal should have immediately been voided.
“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’s letters demanded answers from the agencies by no later than Oct. 26. There is undoubtedly smoke here…do you think there is also fire?