Following a bombshell report that the FBI uncovered a Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow, the Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into the case, demanding several federal agencies disclose whether they knew the FBI had uncovered the corruption before the Obama administration in 2010 approved a controversial uranium deal with Moscow.
According to The Hill, the committee had sent requests for information to 10 federal agencies involved in the Russian uranium approvals.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, gets his first chance to raise the issue in public on Wednesday when he questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an oversight hearing.
The committee is discussing other bipartisan requests to make in the coming days, and Grassley also is expected to seek access to potential witnesses soon, escalating from the information requests he made a few years back, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Grassley has been one of the few congressional leaders to have consistently raised questions about the uranium deal, and in 2015 agencies told his committee they had no national security reasons to reject the Moscow approval.
But the senator conveyed in the latest letters he no longer accepts the Obama administration’s assurances from 2015 that there was no basis to block the Uranium One deal, according to The Hill.
“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.”
The Hill reported on Tuesday that the FBI had uncovered evidence showing Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a racketeering scheme involving bribes, kickbacks and money laundering designed to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business on U.S. soil.
According to The Hill:
“The evidence was first gathered in 2009 and 2010, but Department of Justice officials waited until 2014 to bring any charges. In between that time, President Obama’s multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) gave approval to Russia’s Rosatom to buy a Canadian mining company called Uranium One that controlled 20 percent of America’s uranium deposits.
The committee’s members at the time included former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, collected large speech fees and millions in charitable donations from Russia and other entities interested in the outcome of the decision.”
Grassley dispatched letters last week to all the federal agencies whose executives served on the CFIUS when the decision was made, demanding to know whether they were aware of the FBI case before they voted.
“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.
He added: “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.”