Clinton CashYonoson Rosenblum
Calling the integrity of mainstream media into question
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
In his keynote survey of the descent of American democracy in the Trump era, at the recent Zionism 3.0 conference in Palo Alto, Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg dwelled for some time on the proliferation of "fake news," which he attributed, in large part, to the thousands of portals of entry of information — be it true or false — into the public consciousness. Not surprisingly, he gave much higher marks for accuracy and objectivity to the old media, which while not perfect, does a pretty good job of bringing pertinent and accurate information to the public.
Now, the Atlantic is an often-stimulating magazine, with much worth reading. But, as in his one-sided depiction of the sources of threat to America's democratic culture, Goldberg is far too easy on his colleagues in the traditional media, whose selection of what to present is often highly partisan in nature.
That may seem an odd claim this week, when the left-leaning Washington Post revealed that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign commissioned the notorious and discredited Trump dossier from Fusion GPS, a firm that itself has worked as an unregistered agent of Russia. The dossier was produced by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence official, largely based on (dis)information supplied by Russian contacts.
Yet, the Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media are ignoring an equally explosive story. The latter concerns not just the relationship of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to Russia, but also actions taken by the FBI and Justice Department that had the effect, if not necessarily the intent, of protecting the Obama administration's narrative of a Russian "reset." And it implicates former FBI director and current special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Understanding the new story requires first a review of an older one: the saga of how Rosatom, Russia's state atomic energy corporation, obtained ownership of 20% of America's uranium reserves, through the good offices of the Clintons. That saga has already been chronicled in Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash and corroborated by the New York Times. It begins in 2005 when Bill Clinton travelled to Kazakhstan and convinced its dictator to grant uranium mining rights to the company of Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra. The latter expressed his appreciation with a $10,000,000 gift to the Clinton Foundation.
Unfortunately for share prices of Giustra's company, Vladimir Putin wanted the same uranium and was even more persuasive than Bill Clinton: Kazakhstan's dictator rescinded Giustra's rights and arrested the official who had signed the deal with him.
Fortunately for Giustra, however, Hillary Clinton was by then secretary of state. On a trip to Moscow, she arranged for Rosatom to purchase 17% of Giustra's company, Uranium One, and thereby resolved the issue of the Kazakhstan uranium rights. Putin, however, subsequently decided he wanted Rosatom to purchase control of Uranium One, and with it 20% of America's uranium reserves. To do so, however, required approval of the 18-person Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency body of the US government, (CFIUS), on which Secretary of State Clinton was the highest-ranking member and which included Attorney-General Eric Holder.
CFIUS' approval came in October 2010. Principals to the Rosatom deal, according to Newsweek, ponied up approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or affiliates. Those donations, it is safe to assume, were not meant to further the Foundation's eleemosynary endeavors. Only 6% of Clinton Foundation donations reached Foundation beneficiaries: The remaining 94% went to cover high end travel,high visibility conferences, and the large salaries of Bill Clinton and the Clintons' large staff of permanent retainers. For those who wanted to line the Clintons' pockets more directly, there were always huge speaking fees, such as the $500,000 paid to Bill Clinton by the state-connected Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital in June 2010, while the Rosatom purchase was still pending.
HERE'S WHERE THE NEW story broken by The Hill two weeks ago comes in. CFIUS approval to transfer to a Russian state company 20% of America's uranium, the essential element for America's nuclear arsenal and the fuel for the nuclear plants that provide one fifth of the nation's energy needs, could have only come at a time that Russia was not perceived as an adversary.
Wittingly or unwittingly, the FBI and Department of Justice (DoJ) were complicit in preserving the Obama-era myth of a "reset" with Russia. As revealed by The Hill, the FBI was fully aware — long prior to the CFIUS approval of the Uranium One deal — that Russia was not quite the partner for world stability that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were making it out to be.
Starting in 2009, Vadim Mikiren, the CEO of a Maryland-based subsidiary of Rosatom, was engaged in a racketeering, extortion, and money-laundering operation with numerous American firms in the uranium industry. His activities were designed to line his pockets and those of senior officials in Moscow, as well as to render American firms vulnerable by enmeshing them in illegal activity.
The FBI had a highly reliable informer close to Mikiren, in the form of an American lobbyist he had hired. That lobbyist provided the FBI with emails, recorded conversations, and information about the Russian efforts to curry favor with the Clintons to the tune of millions of dollars. By early 2010, in the estimation of Andrew McCarthy, former lead federal, prosecutor in the First World Trade bombing case, the FBI and Justice Department had amassed a strong case against Mikiren. Yet Attorney-General Eric Holder voted for the Rosatom purchase.
Not until 2014, long after memories of the Rosatom sale had grown cold, would the Justice Department file criminal charges against Mikiren, and even then with minimal fanfare. Mikiren was allowed to plea bargain to a minimal crime of conspiracy to commit money-laundering (which carries a sentence of 0-5 years), as opposed to being charged with money-laundering itself, each count of which carries 20 years. McCarthy points out that the plea bargain violated DoJ's own prosecutorial guidelines. The papers filed in federal court in support of the plea bargain mentioned only a few of Mikiren's crimes, and none before the consummation of the Rosatom sale.
The head of the FBI during most of its lengthy delay in prosecuting Mikiren was none other than Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. And the two senior attorneys who signed off on the plea bargain were Andrew Weissman, then chief of the DoJ Criminal Fraud Division and today one of Mueller's chief assistants, and Rod Rosenstein, then US Attorney for Maryland and today deputy attorney-general. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special prosecutor.
Nor were Mikiren's criminal activities, as documented in The Hill, the only thing uncovered by the FBI that could have scuttled the Rosatom sale. The day before Bill Clinton was scheduled to deliver his $500,000 speech in Moscow, the FBI arrested ten Soviet operatives living on the East Coast under false identities. FBI counter-intelligence head Frank Figliuzzi explained the timing of the arrests: the spy ring was getting too close to a sitting cabinet member — i.e., Clinton. Russian spy Lidiya Guryeva, who was living in the US under the alias Cynthia Murphy, had already burrowed into the inner circle of a close Clinton supporter.
Though Operation Ghost Stories was one of the biggest intelligence busts in US history, the FBI gave it none of the expected bells and whistles celebration. And over the "slow news" July 4 weekend, Secretary of State Clinton hastily arranged a spy exchange of the ten highly-trained and young Soviet operatives for three spies held by Russia and one political prisoner.
THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA, apart from the conservative National Review and the Wall Street Journal, have almost entirely ignored The Hill's exposé. In the three days after it was published, it garnered no mention on any of the major broadcast networks, despite the likelihood of a congressional investigation. As a consequence, the exposé's implications for former FBI director and current Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller have gone unexplored.
We now know that the FBI under Mueller's leadership consistently downplayed its own investigations that would have seriously dented President Obama's "reset" narrative with Russia and almost certainly killed approval of the sale of 20% of American uranium to Rosatom. The FBI failed to act despite the testimony of a credible informant that the Clintons were being groomed by the Russians to the tune of millions. And the FBI's information on Mikiren's criminal actions may not have been forwarded to the CFIUS, a panel on which Mueller's boss, Attorney-General Eric Holder, sat.
The propriety of Mueller serving as special prosecutor has been further called into question in recent days. The appointment of a special prosecutor was largely set in motion by Mueller's successor at the FBI and close friend, James Comey. Comey has admitted that he leaked an internal memo he himself prepared through a law professor friend with the intention of triggering a call for the appointment of a special prosecutor. And he succeeded.
Comey's own involvement with the Trump dossier looks worse by the day, as the evidence mounts that the FBI relied on the discredited dossier and even offered to pay Christopher Steele to carry on with his research.
Comey was either unaware or for some reason chose to ignore the document's dubious provenance — opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and produced by a firm that had done previous work for the Russian regime, which was based on "information" being fed the author by his Kremlin contacts. Mueller should not be investigating the behavior of his close friend and the bureau he headed until 2013.
AFTER GOLDBERG'S SPEECH, I sidled over and mentioned that his portrayal of Donald Trump as an imminent threat to American democracy would have been more compelling had he mentioned that his opponent very likely betrayed national interests in the pursuit of Russian money. (Indeed she likely set up her own private server to avoid investigations into the actions of the Clinton Foundation when she was secretary of state.)
He replied something to the effect, "Oh, everyone knows Hillary is a crook," as if that were somehow a justification for neither writing nor speaking about it.