Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating whether the Trump team colluded with Russia in the 2016 elections, is now under the spotlight for his actions and financial ties related to Russia.
When Mueller was director of the FBI, the agency was investigating a Russian campaign to grow its nuclear energy business in the United States. The Hill reported on Oct. 17 that the Russian campaign was using “bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering.”
As the FBI watched, the campaign led Russia to the Clintons and to a deal that gave the country control of 20 percent of America’s uranium, with the purchase of mining company Uranium One.
Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital, which was involved in the deal, paid the Clinton Foundation $500,000 for a speech by Bill Clinton. Around the same time, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed off on the Uranium One deal for Russia.
Between 2009 and 2013, the Russians assumed control of Uranium One, and The New York Times reported in April 2015 that “a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation” and that the contributions “were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.”
The Hill reported more details on these transactions, stating that Russian nuclear officials “routed millions of dollars to the United States designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation,” and noting the payments were made while Hillary Clinton “served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow.”
The FBI, which was led by Mueller from 2001 to 2013, was allegedly aware of Russia’s interest in the Clintons.
In a follow-up story on Oct. 22, The Hill revealed that as Hillary Clinton was starting her job as Secretary of State under the Obama administration, “federal agents observed as multiple arms of Vladimir Putin’s machine unleashed an influence campaign designed to win access to the new secretary of State; her husband, Bill Clinton; and members of their inner circle.” The article cites interviews and FBI records.
It adds that some of the Russian activities observed by FBI agents in 2009 and 2010 were “covert and illegal.” It also adds that when Russia’s Renaissance Capital paid the Clinton Foundation, the FBI agents were “surprised by the timing and size of a $500,000 check.”
An unnamed source familiar with the FBI evidence told The Hill, “There is not one shred of doubt from the evidence that we had that the Russians had set their sights on Hillary Clinton’s circle, because she was the quarterback of the Obama–Russian reset strategy and the assumed successor to Obama as president.”
Rather than intervene in Russia’s push to gain control over America’s uranium, Mueller took part in the deals.
In 2009, Mueller flew to Moscow to provide Russia with a sample of 10 grams of highly enriched uranium (HEU).
The exchange was revealed in a government cable released by information-leaking website WikiLeaks, which states, “Embassy Moscow is requested to alert at the highest appropriate level the Russian Federation that FBI Director Mueller plans to deliver the HEU sample once he arrives to Moscow on September 21.”
Mueller allegedly has financial interests in Russia’s economic success. On Oct. 23, Offended America cited Mueller’s financial disclosures, which show he is invested in Mellon Optima L/S Strategy Fund LLC.
“This means that Robert Mueller gains financially if the Russian market does well,” it states.
It notes that Mueller isn’t alone in this. Another key figure in the Russia investigations, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House intelligence committee, “reported owning at least $16,000 of Russia-linked investments on his most recent financial disclosure.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is seeking more information on the Russian deals with the Clintons and on the FBI’s actions as it observed the Russian campaign around the deals.
Grassley pointed to an Oct. 18 article from The Hill that said the FBI had a witness to the Russian bribery campaigns in the United States, but the FBI barred the witness from testifying before Congress.
The FBI asked the witness to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), and the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, then led by Loretta Lynch, allegedly threatened to bring criminal charges against the witness if he violated the NDA.
Information on the Russia campaign, and its ties to the Clintons, were thus concealed from the American public when James Comey was leading the FBI.
While Comey’s FBI did not reveal the Clintons’ Russia ties, Comey sought after his firing to bring focus on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. Comey admitted on the record on June 8 that he drafted and leaked memos to The New York Times with the intention of having a special counsel appointed for the Russia investigations, which is now Mueller’s role.
Grassley is now requesting information on the FBI witness. He sent a series of letters on Oct. 18 to 10 federal agencies, asking for a copy of the NDA the witness was asked to sign, and asking that the witness be allowed to testify before Congress.
During an Oct. 18 hearing, Grassley also noted that current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller to lead the Russia investigations, is also tied to the case, and called into question whether Rosenstein should recuse himself from the Russia investigations.
Rosenstein supervised the criminal investigation into the Russian campaign when he was U.S. attorney in Maryland.
Amid all this, the special counsel investigation may be shifting its focus, as evidence of collusion between the Trump team and Russia has still not emerged.
NBC News reported on Oct. 23 that Mueller is now investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group. It cites three unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter as saying that what began as a fact-finding mission leading to the Podesta Group has turned into a “criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.”
Tony Podesta is a registered lobbyist for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, and was a top campaign bundler and contributor for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Leaked documents from the Panama Papers revealed that the Podesta Group lobbied Washington on behalf of Sberbank.
The Podesta Group was co-founded by Tony Podesta’s brother, John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.
John Podesta also has financial ties to Russia. According to a 2016 report from the Government Accountability Institute, John Podesta joined the board of Massachusetts-based energy company Joule Energy in 2011, two months before it received a $35 million investment from Rusnano, a Russian government-owned joint-stock company.
John Podesta claims he disclosed his 75,000 stock shares in the company and transferred them a month before he became counselor under President Barack Obama, but according to the report, his disclosure did not cover the years 2011 to 2012, and “he failed to disclose his membership on the board of Joule Stichting in his federal financial disclosure forms when he joined the Obama White House as a senior adviser.”