Uranium One

Been watching this one? I have but it has seemed about as clear as mud. Well, that starts to change. Thanks to John Hinderaker at PowerLine here and here, and The Hill. John Hinderaker did a superb job of excerpting The Hill’s story, so I’ll mostly use his with my comments.

This looks like some really big time corruption, on at least the level of Teapot Dome with the addition of Russians and uranium. Quite the deal, huh?

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

Think about that some. This was all known before we (the Obama Administration) transferred a bunch of American Uranium assets to Russia. Yet Holder’s Justice Department did absolutely nothing.

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
***
In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. …

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it, as the Democrats try to prove what appears to be illusionary collusion between Russia and Trump.

Also, to no thinking person’s surprise, the Obama Administration officials attempted to defend themselves by lying. Well, standard operating procedure, of course.

The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

Worked out really well for them too.

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

Which was known early in the administration, but Holder’s Justice Department covered it up.

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred an entire year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

Of course, they told almost no one.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.
***
Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

This is one of those stories that should be on the front page of every newspaper, above the fold, should have been last week, actually. But it won’t be. You know why. As fully dues paid members of the Democratic Party the Fake News Media won’t print anything against their masters who have bought and paid for them. But like always, it will get out because, against all appearances, there are some very good people in Washington yet. There are a few who don’t subscribe to the swamp that Iowahawk describes so well when he says, “Journalism is all about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.” But this one was and is too big to suffocate, I think.

John adds a fascinating footnote to the whole story especially as it interacts with President Trump.

Ironies abound: who supervised the Russia investigation? Rod Rosenstein. Who was the FBI director when the Russia probe began in 2009? Robert Mueller. Who was running the FBI when the case ended with a whimper and an apparent cover-up? James Comey. How any of these people can participate with a straight face in an investigation into President Trump’s purportedly nefarious (but, as far as we know, nonexistent) relationship with the Russian regime is beyond me.

Bigger than Watergate? As a crime, undoubtedly. As for the damage from the coverup? Well, we’ll see, won’t we?

A bit of a footnote, Wikipedia reminded me of something about Teapot Dome, “Another significant outcome was the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGrain v. Daugherty (1927) which, for the first time, explicitly established that Congress had the power to compel testimony.” Not much is new under the sun.

 

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WHY OBAMA REALLY SPIED ON TRUMP

Daniel Greenfield wrote in FrontPage Magazine a few days ago:

Last week, CNN revealed (and excused) one phase of the Obama spying operation on Trump. After lying about it on MSNBC, Susan Rice admitted unmasking the identities of Trump officials to Congress.

Rice was unmasking the names of Trump officials a month before leaving office. The targets may have included her own successor, General Flynn, who was forced out of office using leaked surveillance.

While Rice’s targets weren’t named, the CNN story listed a meeting with Flynn, Bannon and Kushner.

Bannon was Trump’s former campaign chief executive and a senior adviser. Kushner is a senior adviser. Those are exactly the people you spy on to get an insight into what your political opponents plan to do.

Now the latest CNN spin piece informs us that secret FISA orders were used to spy on the conversations of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.  The surveillance was discontinued for lack of evidence and then renewed under a new warrant. This is part of a pattern of FISA abuses by Obama Inc. which never allowed minor matters like lack of evidence to dissuade them from new FISA requests.

Desperate Obama cronies had figured out that they could bypass many of the limitations on the conventional investigations of their political opponents by ‘laundering’ them through national security.

If any of Trump’s people were talking to non-Americans, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) could be used to spy on them. And then the redacted names of the Americans could be unmasked by Susan Rice, Samantha Power and other Obama allies. It was a technically legal Watergate.

If both CNN stories hold up, then Obama Inc. had spied on two Trump campaign leaders.

Furthermore the Obama espionage operation closely tracked Trump’s political progress. The first FISA request targeting Trump happened the month after he received the GOP nomination.  The second one came through in October: the traditional month of political surprises meant to upend an election.

Not really anything we didn’t know here, and if not proven (and it may never be) but this aligns with what we know, particularly of the people involved.

When the individual acts of surveillance are described as legal, that’s irrelevant. It’s the collective pattern of surveillance of the political opposition that exposes the criminal motive for them.

If Obama spied on two of Trump’s campaign leaders, that’s not a coincidence. It’s a pattern.

A criminal motive can be spotted by a consistent pattern of actions disguised by different pretexts. A dirty cop may lose two pieces of evidence from the same defendant while giving two different excuses. A shady accountant may explain two otherwise identical losses in two different ways. Both excuses are technically plausible. But it’s the pattern that makes the crime.

Manafort was spied on under the Russia pretext. Bannon may have been spied on over the UAE. That’s two different countries, two different people and two different pretexts.

But one single target. President Trump.

It’s the pattern that exposes the motive.

When we learn the whole truth (if we ever do), we will likely discover that Obama Inc. assembled a motley collection of different technically legal pretexts to spy on Trump’s team.

Each individual pretext might be technically defensible. But together they add up to the crime of the century.

Obama’s gamble was that the illegal surveillance would justify itself. If you spy on a bunch of people long enough, especially people in politics and business, some sort of illegality, actual or technical, is bound to turn up. That’s the same gamble anyone engaged in illegal surveillance makes.

Businessmen illegally tape conversations with former partners hoping that they’ll say something damning enough to justify the risk. That was what Obama and his allies were doing with Trump.

It’s a crime. And you can’t justify committing a crime by discovering a crime. […]

If the gamble fails, if no criminal case that amounts to anything more than the usual investigational gimmick charges like perjury (the Federal equivalent of ‘resisting arrest’ for a beat cop) develops, then Obama and his allies are on the hook for the domestic surveillance of their political opponents.

With nothing to show for it and no way to distract from it.

That’s the race against the clock that is happening right now. Either the investigation gets results. Or its perpetrators are left hanging in the wind. If McMaster is fired, which on purely statistical grounds he probably will be, and a Trump loyalist who wasn’t targeted by the surveillance operation becomes the next National Security Adviser and brings in Trump loyalists, as Flynn tried to do, then it’s over.

And the Dems finally get their Watergate. Except the star won’t be Trump, it will be Obama. Rice, Power, Lynch and the rest of the gang will be the new Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell.

Once Obama and his allies launched their domestic surveillance operation, they crossed the Rubicon. And there was no way back. They had to destroy President Trump or risk going to jail.

The more crimes they committed by spying on the opposition, the more urgently they needed to bring down Trump. The consequences of each crime that they had committed spurred them on to commit worse crimes to save themselves from going to jail. It’s the same old story when it comes to criminals.

Each act of illegal surveillance became more blatant. And when illegal surveillance couldn’t stop Trump’s victory, they had to double down on the illegal surveillance for a coup.

The more Obama spied on Trump, the more he had to keep doing it. This time it was bound to pay off.

Obama and his allies had violated the norms so often for their policy goals that they couldn’t afford to be replaced by anyone but one of their own. The more Obama relied on the imperial presidency of executive orders, the less he could afford to be replaced by anyone who would undo them.  The more his staffers lied and broke the law on everything from the government shutdown to the Iran nuke sellout, the more desperately they needed to pull out all the stops to keep Trump out of office. And the more they did it, the more they couldn’t afford not to do it. Abuse of power locks you into the loop familiar to all dictators. You can’t stop riding the tiger. Once you start, you can’t afford to stop.

I’m going to stop there, simply because of length, but you shouldn’t; follow that link and read it all. It’s a damning exposition of the old saw, |If one tells a lie one will always have to tell another to cover it”. That’s the great thing about telling the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said, on the other hand, an awful lot of people have talked their way into prison this way. I think if justice even close to prevails, I think there will be a new crop of residents at Club Fed.

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch. And if it doesn’t, America, as we’ve known it since 1789, ends. It’s that important.

Special Counsel

So, we have a Special Prosecutor Counsel. Isn’t that special, well we have it because there is a lot of smoke, not least to find out if there is a fire, swamp gas is burning off, too much grilling in the fog, or somebody bought some army surplus smoke generators and are manufacturing smoke. I think I may know, and so may you, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The farce must play out.

But I suspect it may not go the way the writer of the script thinks, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is fairly obviously well connected, that does not necessarily mean that he is dishonest. He’s also a former Marine Officer decorated for his service in Vietnam. One thing it will do is reduce the volume a bit, and let the Administration do a bit of administrating rather than running around like fools all day long. Well, one hopes anyway!

Best I’ve seen on it comes from Joshuapundit, here’s some…

Rosenstein may even have been told by Trump to appoint a special counsel. It puts this garbage on the back burner somewhat, and will hopefully shut it down. That’s because there’s nothing for Mueller to find on the president and no crime. But just look at Mueller’s actual brief! To supervise the investigation of:

“(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Regulation 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a) is part of the federal regulations that authorize appointing a special counsel. It expands a special counsel’s jurisdiction to all crimes, such as perjury or obstruction of justice, that interfere with his original responsibility.To wit, (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Think of the ground that could cover! It could definitely include investigating Seth Rich’s murder* and reopening the investigation of the Clinton Foundation that FBI Director Comey closed on Obama AG Loretta Lynch’s orders after she met will Bill Clinton on that plane. It could include compelling testimony from Loretta Lynch herself. It could expand to exploring President Obama’s surveillance of the Trump campaign by President Obama and the clear violations of FISA laws that took place. Imagine some of these juicy scandals coming to light just in time for the midterms…talk about a total reversal of fortune.

In any event, the supposed ‘Comey memo’ if it even exists amounts to hearsay evidence no judge would take seriously. And even if Trump suggested Comey ‘go easy on Flynn’ after he had been fired, that is not obstruction of justice. That crime involves actual overt actions like destroying evidence, perjury, inducing other people to commit perjury, you know, the sort of felonies the Clintons did routinely.

And recall that both ranking member Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC),the chairman both said that Trump was not under investigation based on the classified briefing they were given.

Another thing to consider. Comey is a lawyer. As such, he is an officer of the court who is legally obligated to report a crime like obstruction of justice. Yet he did not…until now. That could be grounds for disbarment.

Do read it all at the link above.

Who knows, Special Counsels are official loose cannon, nobody (usually including them) know where an investigation like this is likely to go, and that’s if the Counsel (and staff) are honest. It may be the worst thing Trump could do, it may also be the best, only time will tell.

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