Uranium One: The Real ‘Russiagate’ Belongs to the Clintons

What if Hillary Clinton were really the one who previously had a controversial connection with Russia? As NBC News reported, the Department of Justice questioned several FBI agents a few days ago under orders from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/prosecutors-ask-fbi-agents-info-uranium-one-deal-n831436] The questioning concerned some evidence that federal authorities have gathered about the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom, a Moscow state-owned enterprise established in 2007, which is also the body which regulates all nuclear assets in the Russian Federation. This is the Clintons’ “Russiagate.” Maybe it’s less famous than the one involving president Donald Trump, but it’s certainly less nebulous. According to the allegation, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she used her position to help Russia gain control of a fifth of American uranium reserves in exchange for depositing millions of dollars into her family’s foundation, the Clinton Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Justice is seriously considering appointing a special prosecutor to this investigation, news of which appeared in the media for the first time in April 2015 thanks to a New York Times article. [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html]. The latest investigators referred to by NBC are needed precisely to determine whether the appointment of a special prosecutor is necessary to shed light on a situation that is riddled with doubt.

Uranium One: The Allegation against the Clintons

As Federico Punzi explained in Formiche in 2013, “The Russian state atomic energy giant Rosatom acquired control of the Canadian company Uranium One, and through it, one-fifth of the uranium mining reserves in the United States, worth tens of billions of dollars. Obviously, with uranium being a strategic asset having clear implications for national security, a government committee would have had to have given the green light.”

While the Russians gradually took control of Uranium One in three separate transactions between 2009 and 2013, according to The New York Times, the Canadian president of the Toronto-based company, Ian Telfer, made four different donations to the Clinton Foundation through his family foundation for a total of $2.35 million. In 2010, as Punzi explains, “after Rosatom announced its intent to acquire a majority share of Uranium One and just before receiving government authorization, former President Bill Clinton collected half a million dollars from the Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital for a speech he gave in Moscow.”

The Hill’s Revelations

Last October, an inquiry published by The Hill recast the spotlight on an investigation that had seemed to be at a dead end. [http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355749-fbi-uncovered-russian-bribery-plot-before-obama-administration] According to the article, before the Obama administration approved the deal in 2010, the FBI got hold of some evidence pointing to incidents of corruption, bribery, extortion and money laundering in which Russian officials were involved. Furthermore, according to an eyewitness, the men from Rosatom in that period would spend millions of dollars in the U.S. on foundations like that of former President Clinton, during the same time that Hillary was secretary of state.

Are these truly acts of corruption or ones involving serious political accountability of the Clintons? Or are they both? It is too soon to tell. It is true that the Obama administration and the Clintons defended the Uranium One operation and insisted that United States national security was not at risk, and that there were no “valid reasons to oppose the uranium deal.” [http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355749-fbi-uncovered-russian-bribery-plot-before-obama-administration] But what if Donald Trump was right when he said that “the uranium sale to Russia and the way that it was done is a modern-age Watergate?” [http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-clinton-uranium-deal-russia-modern-day-watergate-2017-10] The Justice Department is working to get to the bottom of it.

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