The FBI had intelligence on a Russian bribery, kickback, extortion, and money laundering scheme on US soil aimed at growing Moscow's nuclear interests well before the Obama administration approved two controversial nuclear deals with Russia, The Hill reported on Tuesday citing government documents and interviews.
The FBI had reportedly used an American businessman as a confidential witness to document illegal activity by Rosatom director Vadim Mikerin. Between 2009 and 2012, the Russian nuclear company violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing the American trucking firm Transport Logistics International to transport Russian uranium.
Clinton was accused by critics of personally profiting from the deal because she was heading the State Department and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, received both personal speaking fees in Russian Federation and financial contributions to his charitable Clinton Foundation from parties vying for the Uranium One sale. It remains unclear whether or not the bureau shared their findings with the State Department and other federal agencies before it signed off on a deal that greatly increased American uranium output to Russian Federation.
The second deal allowed a Rosatom subsidiary, Tenex, to sell enriched uranium to US nuclear plants.
The decision sparked controversy years later, following a 2015 bombshell report: The New York Times found Moscow had paid millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation at the same time the U.S. was pondering the Rosatom deal.
President Obama's Department of Justice began investigating these Russian officials back in 2010 and carried on with its investigation for four years without informing Congress or the general public.
"The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns", the source said. "And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions", a person who worked on the case told The Hill.
The two U.S. -Russia deals in question happened in 2010 and 2011.
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. The next year, they allowed Tenex to expand the amount of nuclear products they sold in the US.
Hillary Clinton's spokesman deflected the claims when they surfaced, saying that she was not involved in the review of the deal and that a State Department official claimed that she "never intervened ... on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter". Unbeknownst to them, however, they were playing along with a Russian bribery scheme involving kickbacks, extortion and racketeering. Even the assistant Federal Bureau of Investigation director of criminal cases, Ronald Hosko, said he had no idea the case was even being conducted.
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.