Back Channel Communications Between Wikileaks/Donald Jr.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has called WikiLeaks a hostile agent bent on taking down America. Meanwhile, Julian Assange continues to inject himself and WikiLeaks into all political affairs in the United States, to what end has not been determined.

Meanwhile, Congress has all the direct message communications between someone at WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr. that was apparently leading the Twitter communications during the campaign season. Many of those communications from WikiLeaks had a response from Donald Jr.

Image result for donald trump jr twitter photo

Immediately after this became public, Julian Assange took to twitter to push back.

He posted on Twitter the following:

I cannot confirm the alleged DM’s from @DonaldJTrumpJr to @wikileaks. @wikileaks does not keep such records and the Atlantic’s presentation is edited and clearly does not have the full context. However, even those published by the Atlantic show that: 1/

WikiLeaks loves its pending publications and ignores those who ask for details. Trump Jr. was rebuffed just like Cambridge Analytica. In both cases WikiLeaks had publicly teased the publications. Thousands of people asked about them. 2/

WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high profile people that it is their interest to promote links to its publications. 3/

WikiLeaks has such chutzpah that it allegedly tried to convince Trump Jr to leak his father’s tax returns & his own “Russian lawyer meeting” emails (he did). WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest. 4/


He also asked to be the U.S. ambassador to Australia…sheesh. Anyway….Assange was referring to the Atlantic article about those communications of which Congressional committees have copies provided by his lawyer. Here is that summary:

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site is about to launch,” WikiLeaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.)

The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”

The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

“Over the last several months, we have worked cooperatively with each of the committees and have voluntarily turned over thousands of documents in response to their requests,” said Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Donald Trump Jr. “Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum.” WikiLeaks did not respond to requests for comment.

The messages were turned over to Congress as part of that body’s various ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. American intelligence services have accused the Kremlin of engaging in a deliberate effort to boost President Donald Trump’s chances while bringing down his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. That effort—and the president’s response to it—has spawned multiple congressional investigations, and a special counsel inquiry that has led to the indictment of Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, for financial crimes.

It’s not clear what investigators will make of the correspondence, which represents a small portion of the thousands of documents Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer says he turned over to them. The stakes for the Trump family, however, are high. Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with connections to Russia’s powerful prosecutor general, is already reportedly a subject of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, as is the White House statement defending him. (Trump Jr. was emailed an offer of “information that would incriminate Hillary,” and responded in part, “If it’s what you say I love it.”) The messages exchanged with WikiLeaks add a second instance in which Trump Jr. appears eager to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton, despite its provenance.

Though Trump Jr. mostly ignored the frequent messages from WikiLeaks, he at times appears to have acted on its requests. When WikiLeaks first reached out to Trump Jr. about, for instance, Trump Jr. followed up on his promise to “ask around.” According to a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, on the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from WikiLeaks, he emailed other senior officials with the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks. At no point during the 10-month correspondence does Trump Jr. rebuff WikiLeaks, which had published stolen documents and was already observed to be releasing information that benefited Russian interests.

WikiLeaks played a pivotal role in the presidential campaign. In July 2016, on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s servers that spring. The emails showed DNC officials denigrating Bernie Sanders, renewing tensions on the eve of Clinton’s acceptance of the nomination. On October 7, less than an hour after the Washington Post released the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Wikileaks released emails that hackers had pilfered from the personal email account of Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.

On October 3, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote again. “Hiya, it’d be great if you guys could comment on/push this story,” WikiLeaks suggested, attaching a quote from then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton about wanting to “just drone” WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

“Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. responded an hour-and-a-half later. “It’s amazing what she can get away with.”

Two minutes later, Trump Jr. wrote again, asking, “What’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?” The day before, Roger Stone, an informal advisor to Donald Trump, had tweeted, “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #WikiLeaks.”

WikiLeaks didn’t respond to that message, but on October 12, 2016, the account again messaged Trump Jr. “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications,” WikiLeaks wrote. (At a rally on October 10, Donald Trump had proclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!”)

“Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,” WikiLeaks went on, pointing Trump Jr. to the link, which it said would help Trump’s followers dig through the trove of stolen documents and find stories. “There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it,” WikiLeaks went on. “Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.”

Trump Jr. did not respond to this message. But just 15 minutes after it was sent, as The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau pointed out, Donald Trump himself tweeted, “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”

Two days later, on October 14, 2016, Trump Jr. tweeted out the link WikiLeaks had provided him. “For those who have the time to read about all the corruption and hypocrisy all the @wikileaks emails are right here:,” he wrote.

After this point, Trump Jr. ceased to respond to WikiLeaks’s direct messages, but WikiLeaks escalated its requests.

“Hey Don. We have an unusual idea,” WikiLeaks wrote on October 21, 2016. “Leak us one or more of your father’s tax returns.” WikiLeaks then laid out three reasons why this would benefit both the Trumps and WikiLeaks. One, The New York Times had already published a fragment of Trump’s tax returns on October 1; two, the rest could come out any time “through the most biased source (e.g. NYT/MSNBC).”

It is the third reason, though, WikiLeaks wrote, that “is the real kicker.” “If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” WikiLeaks explained. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.” It then provided an email address and link where the Trump campaign could send the tax returns, and adds, “The same for any other negative stuff (documents, recordings) that you think has a decent chance of coming out. Let us put it out.”

Trump Jr. did not respond to this message.

WikiLeaks didn’t write again until Election Day, November 8, 2016. “Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do,” WikiLeaks wrote at 6:35pm, when the idea that Clinton would win was still the prevailing conventional wisdom. (As late as 7:00pm that night, FiveThirtyEight, a trusted prognosticator of the election, gave Clinton a 71 percent chance of winning the presidency.) WikiLeaks insisted that contesting the election results would be good for Trump’s rumored plans to start a media network should he lose the presidency. “The discussion can be transformative as it exposes media corruption, primary corruption, PAC corruption, etc.,” WikiLeaks wrote.

Shortly after midnight that day, when it was clear that Trump had beaten all expectations and won the presidency, WikiLeaks sent him a simple message: “Wow.”

Trump Jr. did not respond to these messages either, but WikiLeaks was undeterred. “Hi Don. Hope you’re doing well!” WikiLeaks wrote on December 16 to Trump Jr., who was by then the son of the president-elect. “In relation to Mr. Assange: Obama/Clinton placed pressure on Sweden, UK and Australia (his home country) to illicitly go after Mr. Assange. It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to [Washington,] DC.”

WikiLeaks even imagined how Trump might put it: “‘That’s a real smart tough guy and the most famous australian [sic] you have!’ or something similar,” WikiLeaks wrote. “They won’t do it but it will send the right signals to Australia, UK + Sweden to start following the law and stop bending it to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons.” (On December 7, Assange, proclaiming his innocence, had released his testimony in front of London investigators looking into accusations that he had committed alleged sexual assault.)

In the winter and spring, WikiLeaks went largely silent, only occasionally sending Trump Jr. links. But on July 11, 2017, three days after The New York Times broke the story about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with connections to Russia’s powerful prosecutor general, WikiLeaks got in touch again.

“Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems,” WikiLeaks wrote. “We have an idea that may help a little. We are VERY interested in confidentially obtaining and publishing a copy of the email(s) cited in the New York Times today,” citing a reference in the paper to emails Trump Jr had exchanged with Rob Goldstone, a publicist who had helped set up the meeting. “We think this is strongly in your interest,” WikiLeaks went on. It then reprised many of the same arguments it made in trying to convince Trump Jr. to turn over his father’s tax returns, including the argument that Trump’s enemies in the press were using the emails to spin an unfavorable narrative of the meeting. “Us publishing not only deprives them of this ability but is beautifully confounding.”

The message was sent at 9:29 am on July 11. Trump Jr. did not respond, but just hours later, he posted the emails himself, on his own Twitter feed.

Paychecks Stop at Podesta Group, New Operations Launch

Kimberly Fritts, has resigned and announced no more paychecks from the Podesta Group after Tony, the founder stepped down. Fleeing to other corners, other lobby groups are cherry picking to hire former Podesta Group employees.


Podesta Group Unravels as CEO Plans to Take Clients to New Firm

Less than two weeks after Democratic mega-lobbyist Tony Podesta stepped down from his firm amid questions over its foreign work, one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying shops is unraveling as its employees try to reconstitute under new leadership.

Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Fritts told employees Thursday afternoon she is working on launching a new firm that would take many of Podesta’s staff and clients with her, said two people familiar with the meeting. She told employees they shouldn’t expect a paycheck past Nov. 15, the people said.

It was not an entirely unexpected moment for the 30-year-old firm after Podesta’s sudden resignation Oct. 31, when he announced he was stepping down following an indictment issued against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort by U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The charges detailed Manafort’s clandestine influence campaign on behalf of Ukraine’s deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, including work with two unidentified companies that “lobbied multiple members of Congress and their staff about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections, and the propriety of Yanukovych’s imprisoning his presidential rival.”

Mueller’s indictment identified the firms as Company A and Company B and said they were allegedly paid by Manafort with more than $2 million in offshore funds. A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Company B is the Podesta Group, which disclosed in April that it had worked for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Company A is Mercury Public Affairs LLC, said another person familiar with the matter.

The Podesta Group represents some of the the world’ biggest companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Altria Group Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Pfizer Inc. and other representatives of some of the most active industries in Washington.

Podesta’s next steps were not discussed at the meeting, one person said. A spokeswoman for Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group declined to comment.

Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, who also served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton and was counselor to Barack Obama.


Kimberley Fritts, the longtime chief executive of the Podesta Group, is leaving the firm to start her own lobbying shop, according to three Podesta Group staffers.

Paul Brathwaite, a Podesta Group principal, said last week that he was leaving to start his own shop, Federal Street Strategies.

Rival lobbying firms, meanwhile, see this is a prime moment to poach the Podesta Group’s top lobbyists. At least six other firms have reached out to Podesta Group staffers about leaving since Tony Podesta stepped down. More here.

*** It must be chaos as there are contracts with countless companies, organizations and foreign entities that must be either cancelled or completed under a new process. According to Open Secrets, the Podesta group has $15,780,000 in lobby income for 2017.

Tony Podesta’s lavish art collection is coming down off the walls at the Podesta Group, as the lobbying firm — among the largest and most powerful in Washington — prepares to close up shop.

Workers started removing dozens of pieces in Podesta’s collection of photography and other artworks from the walls of the firm on Thursday, the same day Kimberley Fritts, the firm’s longtime chief executive, abruptly resigned, according to a Podesta Group staffer.

“The firm as it existed is essentially over,” one Podesta Group staffer said. “The vast majority of people are going their own way.”

At an emotional staff meeting late Thursday afternoon, Fritts told staffers they could clear out their offices and said that Wednesday might be their last payday.

“We will try to compensate you on the 30th, but we can’t make any promises,” Fritts said, according to one staffer who was in the meeting.

Fritts had been expected to relaunch the Podesta Group under a new name in the days after Podesta stepped down. But she instead announced in the meeting on Thursday that she was leaving to start her own firm after negotiations with Podesta broke down. Her last day was Friday, according to Podesta Group staffers.

Fritts is now hustling to find new office space and get her new firm off the ground. Staffers, meanwhile, are struggling to figure out what will happen to the Podesta Group with Fritts gone and Podesta — an outsized presence in Washington known for his flamboyant ties and ubiquity at Democratic fundraisers — nowhere to be found.

Staffers are wondering why a firm that brought in $24 million last year suddenly can’t pay their salaries, and why Podesta and Fritts were unable to strike a deal to transfer ownership of the firm.

“There’s a lot of anger at Tony because of that,” one Podesta Group staffer said.

Some Podesta Group lobbyists are now planning to join Fritts at her new firm, which The New York Times reported on Friday would be named Cogent Strategies.

Others are considering joining rival lobbying firms or starting their own shops. One lobbyist, Paul Brathwaite, sent a note to clients last week announcing he was starting his own firm, Federal Street Strategies. More here.

Here Comes Eric Holder, Again Marc Elias Right Behind Him

Holder’s a Democrat, but it wasn’t Northam’s tax plans or social views or life story that brought him there. It was the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), the Obama-backed group he chairs, which decided months ago that the most important way this year to shape the future of gerrymandering was ensuring a Democrat is in the Virginia governor’s mansion when the next set of House and state legislative maps get drawn after the 2020 Census.

The $1.2 million that the NDRC has put behind Northam, some direct to his campaign and some through its own digital ad program, is nothing compared to the group’s plan for 2018: a goal of raising over $30 million, to be deployed largely into governors’ races—with a focus on large states where substantially shifting the legislature is out of reach, like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Where recapturing the statehouse is within reach, or where there’s a chance to bust up a GOP supermajority—as in Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada and North Carolina—they will back and help direct Democrats’ efforts.

So far, a majority of NDRC money and attention is going to legal challenges, and though the group is currently hiring a litigation director, most of the work is being handled by well-known Democratic elections lawyer Marc Elias. Already this year, they’ve been pursuing cases in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, and expect that this will be an even bigger part of their role in off years ahead, and in challenging maps drawn in states where they don’t do well in elections. The whole summary is here.

Now on to that cat, Marc Elias…Holder, Hillary and Barack’s friend.

Big questions are being asked on The Hill about how journalists were paid to spread the news about the slimy dossier.

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, signed a subpoena to force a bank to turn over Fusion’s financial records. He wants to know who paid for the dossier, which was written in a series of 18 memos by former British spy Christopher Steele. He relied almost exclusively on unidentified Kremlin sources.

Fusion went to federal court to block the move, but the law firm Perkins Coie LLP, whose partner Marc E. Elias is the Clinton’s campaign’s general counsel, intervened. It filed a letter acknowledging it had paid Fusion for the dossier on behalf of Democrats. Fusion and Mr. Nunes then worked out an agreement on access to some of the firm’s financial records. The rest of the story here.

*** Marc Elias is the ‘go-to’ legal fixer guy for almost every Democrat in DC… 1-800 Call Marc


Remember Obama’s White House lawyer, Bob Bauer? He is the founder of the law firm Perkins Coie.

The firm was founded by attorney Bob Bauer, who has been a close legal adviser to President Barack Obama ever since he decided to run for Senate in 2005. Bauer was the chief counsel for the Obama White House from Jan. 2010 to Jun. 2011.

Elias was called on for Claire McCaskill and Mary Landrieu….Harry Reid and even John Kerry dialed him up over the whole ‘Swift Boat’ thing. More here.

Roll Call profiles Marc Elias, a partner at Perkins Cole and the go-to election lawyer for Democrats. “Over the past decade, since Kerry hired him as his campaign counsel, Elias has risen to become an indispensable figure in the party. He has a second office in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee headquarters, where he’ll spend most of Election Day “pacing around” Executive Director Guy Cecil’s office “and driving him nuts for most of the day.”.. As chairman of the political law practice at Perkins Coie, Elias oversees 18 attorneys and represents nearly every Democratic senator. The firm’s client list also includes the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association.

The 45-year-old was born in New York City, grew up on Long Island and attended high school in Suffern, a small town in suburban Rockland County. He’s one of two sons to a stay-at-home-mom and a father who worked on Wall Street before becoming a small-business owner. They were “New Deal Democrats, Jews from New York,” Elias said, laughing. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1990 with a degree in government before going to Duke, where he earned both a law degree and a master’s in political science in 1993. He joined Perkins Coie and quickly moved into the political law practice under Bob Bauer, who would go on to become campaign and White House counsel to Barack Obama, and Judy Corley, who became in-house counsel to Richard Gephardt after Republicans won the House majority in 1994.” [RollCall]

Hey Harry Reid, Ken Salazar, Kislyak What About Uranium One?

Note the date of this article….

In 2009, Gregory B. Jaczko was appointed to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by Barack Obama and his previous position was working for Harry Reid as his appropriations advisor as well as his science advisor.

U.S. officials said Wednesday that they have proposed ending the Obama administration’s ban on new uranium mining leases on public land outside Grand Canyon National Park.

The Forest Service proposed the change in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order for federal agencies to eliminate restrictions on energy production. The Trump administration has moved to unravel former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations aimed at curbing climate change.

“Adoption of this recommendation could reopen lands to mineral entry pursuant to the United States mining laws facilitating exploration for, and possibly development of, uranium resources,” according to a report last week by the Forest Service’s parent agency, the Department of Agriculture.

The Oct. 25 report also said it’s in the national interest “to promote the clean and safe development of America’s vast energy resources.” Nuclear power plants use uranium as fuel.

Conservationists are decrying the Forest Service’s move, saying that past uranium mining in the region has polluted soils, washes, aquifers and drinking water.

“The Forest Service should be advocating for a permanent mining ban, not for advancing private mining interests that threaten one of the natural wonders of the world,” said Amber Reimondo, energy program director of the Grand Canyon Trust based in Flagstaff.

In 2012, then-Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar banned new hard rock mining for 20 years on more than 1 million acres of national forest and Bureau of Land Management land near the Grand Canyon. He said he was acting to protect a “priceless American landscape.”

The ban did not affect existing mining claims in the region.

***  photo

TheHill: After the Obama administration approved the sale of a Canadian mining company with significant U.S. uranium reserves to a firm owned by Russia’s government, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured Congress and the public the new owners couldn’t export any raw nuclear fuel from America’s shores.

“No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release that announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets.

A year later, the nuclear regulator repeated the assurance in a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican in whose state Uranium One operated mines.

“Neither Uranium One Inc. nor AMRZ holds a specific NRC export license. In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the exports of uranium for use in reactor fuel,” then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko wrote to Barrasso.

The NRC never issued an export license to the Russian firm, a fact so engrained in the narrative of the Uranium One controversy that it showed up in The Washington Post’s official fact-checker site this week. “We have noted repeatedly that extracted uranium could not be exported by Russia without a license, which Rosatom does not have,” the Post reported on Monday, linking to the 2011 Barrasso letter.

Yet NRC memos reviewed by The Hill show that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party. Later, the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show.

NRC officials said they could not disclose the total amount of uranium that Uranium One exported because the information is proprietary. They did, however, say that the shipments only lasted from 2012 to 2014 and that they are unaware of any exports since then.

NRC officials told The Hill that Uranium One exports flowed from Wyoming to Canada and on to Europe between 2012 and 2014, and the approval involved a process with multiple agencies.

Rather than give Rosatom a direct export license — which would have raised red flags inside a Congress already suspicious of the deal — the NRC in 2012 authorized an amendment to an existing export license for a Paducah, Ky.-based trucking firm called RSB Logistics Services Inc. to simply add Uranium One to the list of clients whose uranium it could move to Canada.

The license, reviewed by The Hill, is dated March 16, 2012, and it increased the amount of uranium ore concentrate that RSB Logistics could ship to the Cameco Corp. plant in Ontario from 7,500,000 kilograms to 12,000,000 kilograms and added Uranium One to the “other parties to Export.”

The move escaped notice in Congress.

Officials at RSB, Cameco and Rosatom did not return repeated phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Uranium One’s American arm, however, emailed a statement to The Hill on Wednesday evening confirming it did export uranium to Canada through the trucking firm and that 25 percent of that nuclear fuel eventually made its way outside North America to Europe and Asia, stressing all the exports complied with federal law.

“None of the US U308 product produced to date has been sold to non-US customers except for approximately 25% which was sold via book transfer at the conversion facilities to customers from Western Europe and Asia,” executive Donna Wickers said. “Any physical export of the product from conversion facilities to non-US destinations is under the control of such customers and subject to NRC regulation.”

The United States actually imports the majority of the uranium it uses as fuel. In 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 24 percent of the imports came from Kazakhstan and 14 percent came from Russia.

The sale of Uranium One to a Russian state-owned firm, however, has created political waves that have led to multiple congressional investigations. Republicans say they want to learn how the sale could have been approved and whether there was political interference.

“The more that surfaces about this deal, the more questions it raises,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement released after this story was published. Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has launched an investigation into Uranium One.

“It now appears that despite pledges to the contrary, U.S. uranium made its way overseas as a part of the Uranium One deal,” Grassley said in the statement. “What’s more disturbing, those transactions were apparently made possible by various Obama Administration agencies while the Democrat-controlled Congress turned a blind eye.

“Americans deserve assurances that political influence was not a factor in all this. I’m increasingly convinced that a special counsel — someone with no prior involvement in any of these deals — should shine a light on this ordeal and get answers for the American people.”

Government officials told The Hill that the NRC was able to amend the export license affecting Uranium One because of two other decisions previously made by the Obama administration as part of a Russian “reset” in President Obama’s first term.

First, Obama reinstated a U.S.-Russia civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement. President George W. Bush had signed the agreement in 2008, but withdrew from it before it could take effect after Russia became involved in a military conflict with the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a U.S. ally, and after new concerns surfaced that Moscow was secretly aiding Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

Obama re-submitted the agreement for approval by the Democrat-controlled Congress in May 2010, declaring Russia should be viewed as a friendly partner under Section 123 the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 after agreeing to a new nuclear weapons reduction deal and helping the U.S. with Iran.

“I have concluded: (1) that the situation in Georgia need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding with the proposed Agreement; and (2) that the level and scope of U.S.-Russia cooperation on Iran are sufficient to justify resubmitting the proposed agreement to the Congress,” Obama said in a statement sent to Congress.

Congress took no action, which allowed the deal to become effective 90 days later.

The other step that allowed uranium from the Russian-controlled mines in the United States to be exported came in 2011, when the Commerce Department removed Rosatom, Uranium One’s owner, from a list of restricted companies that could not export nuclear or other sensitive materials or technologies without special approval under the Export Administration Regulations.

“This final rule removes the Federal Atomic Power of Russia (Rusatom) now known as the Russian State Corporation of Atomic Energy (Rosatom),” the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security declared in a May 24, 2011, notice in the Federal Register that created few waves.

Rosatom had been on the list for a long time, so long in fact that it was still listed in the federal database under its old name, Rusatom. Officials said the effort to remove the Russian nuclear firm was a “policy decision” driven by the State Department, Energy Department, Commerce Department and other agencies with Russia portfolios designed to recognize that bilateral relations between Russia and the United States had improved slightly.

Nine months after Rosatom was removed from the export restrictions list, the NRC issued its license amendment to the trucking firm in March 2012 that cleared the way for Uranium One exports, making it effective for nearly five years, to the end of 2017. But the NRC also stipulated that Uranium One’s uranium should be returned to the United States.

“The uranium authorized for export is to be returned to the United States,” the NRC instructed in the export license amendment.

But that, too, didn’t happen. Officials told The Hill that the Energy Department subsequently gave approval for some of the American fuel to depart Canada and be exported to European enrichment centers, according to a 2015 letter the NRC sent to Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.).

The NRC explained to Visclosky that it had originally stipulated that after the American uranium was treated in Canada, it had to “then return the uranium to the U.S. for further processing.”

“That license stated that the Canadian Government needed to obtain prior approval before any of the U.S. material could be transferred to any country other than the U.S.,” the letter added. “Subsequently the U.S. Department of Energy granted approval for some re-transfers of U.S. uranium from the Canadian conversion facilities to European enrichment plants.”

The NRC added, however, it did not believe any of the American uranium made its way “directly” to Russia. And it added that the whole supply chain scenario was made possible by the resubmission of Obama’s Section 123 agreement in 2010.

“The transfer of the U.S.-supplied uranium from Canada to Europe noted above also was subject to applicable Section 123 agreements,” the NRC noted. Section 123 is the part of the Atomic Energy Act that allows for the U.S. to share civilian nuclear technology and goods with allies.

The Uranium One deal has been controversial since at least 2015, when The New York Times reported former President Bill Clinton received a $500,000 speech fee from a Russian bank and millions in donations to his charitable foundation from sources interested in the deal around the time the Uranium One sale was being reviewed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department and eight other federal agencies.

Hillary Clinton has said she delegated the approval decision to a deputy on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and did not apply any pressure. Bill Clinton has said the monies he received had no bearing on his wife’s policymaking decisions.

The 2015 Times article included a single reference to Uranium One officials saying they believed some of its American uranium made its way to Europe and Japan without any reference to how that occurred.

NRC officials said the multiple decisions documented in the memos, including the 2012 amendment of the third-party export license, provide the most complete description to date of how Russian-owned uranium ended up getting exported from the United States.

The entire Uranium One episode is getting a fresh look after The Hill disclosed late last month that the FBI had gathered extensive evidence in 2009 — before the mine sale was approved — that Rosatom’s main executive in the United States was engaged in a racketeering scheme that included bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering.

The probe was enabled by an undercover informant working for the FBI inside the Russian nuclear industry, court records show. But the Justice Department did not make that evidence public until 2014, long after Rosatom benefited from multiple favorable decisions from the Obama administration.

The Senate Judiciary, House Intelligence and House Oversight committees have all announced plans to investigate the new revelation, and the Justice Department has given approval for the undercover informant to testify for the first time about what he witnessed the Russians doing to influence Obama administration decisions favorable to Rosatom between 2009 and 2014.

Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have described the renewed focus on the Uranium One deal as simply a distraction from the current investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump became the 45th president. She also says that concerns about the Uranium One sale have long ago been “debunked.”

But it’s not just Republicans who have said that the revelation the FBI had evidence that Rosatom was engaged in criminality during the time it was receiving favorable decisions from the U.S. government deserves fresh scrutiny.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees, told The Hill she would like to learn more about what the FBI knew.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has criticized Republicans for investigating Clinton, but said on “Morning Joe” last month he has “no problem looking into” the Uranium One deal.

And Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said Sunday on CNN that he believed it was appropriate for Congress to investigate the new information.

“One of the House committees has already begun an oversight committee hearing,” King said. “I always think oversight hearings are appropriate. I’ve been trying to understand this deal.”

King also repeated the oft-quoted narrative that the “company changed hands, but the uranium that is mined in the United States cannot leave the United States.” The NRC license now shows now that Uranium One was, in fact, allowed to export American uranium.

A legal expert on the CFIUS process told The Hill that the new revelation that the FBI knew that a Rosatom official was engaged in illegality on U.S. soil before the sale was approved could very well have affected the decision if that evidence had been made public in real time.

“Criminal behavior would be something the committee would take into consideration when evaluating a transaction with a foreign company,” said Stewart Baker, a foreign commerce law expert at the Steptoe Johnson firm. “It is a consideration, but it is not something that would guarantee a particular outcome.”

He said the committee board would need “to consider how serious the criminal behavior is, in the context of this transaction, how likely is it that someone acting against U.S. security interest would take action,” he added.


Read letter to Barrasso by kballuck1 on Scribd


Read NRC license amendment by kballuck1 on Scribd

Read Visclosky letter by kballuck1 on Scribd

Read Obama Section 123 statement by kballuck1 on Scribd

More here from The Hill

Oh Hillary, David and Congress, Gotta a Few Questions for You

Bring your Podesta boys along for the ride to explain all this please. Did a handful of people sign waivers for this these transactions? Any lawyers out there than can explain this?

Sept. 12, 2014: US Treasury/

WASHINGTON – Due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew today determined that persons operating within Russia’s defense and related materiel sector may now be subject to targeted sanctions under Executive Order 13662.  In addition, the U.S. Department of the Treasury today extended targeted financial sanctions to Russia’s largest bank, deepened existing sanctions on Russian financial institutions, expanded sanctions in Russia’s energy sector, and increased the number of sanctioned Russian entities in the energy and defense sectors.
•         Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has made a determination that persons operating within Russia’s defense and related materiel sector may now be subject to targeted sanctions under Executive Order 13662.  Following Secretary Lew’s determination, Treasury has imposed sanctions that prohibit transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States involving new debt of greater than 30 days maturity issued by Rostec, a major Russian conglomerate that operates in the defense and related materiel sector.
•         Treasury has added Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank of Russia, to the existing prohibitions on U.S. persons providing equity or certain long-term debt financing.  In addition, we have tightened the debt financing restrictions by reducing from 90 days to 30 days the maturity period for new debt issued by the six Russian banks subject to this restriction.  These banks are Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, Sberbank, VEB, and VTB Bank.
•         Treasury has designated and blocked the assets of five Russian state-owned defense technology firms – OAO ‘Dolgoprudny Research Production Enterprise,’ Mytishchinski Mashinostroitelny Zavod OAO, Kalinin Machine Plant JSC, Almaz-Antey GSKB, and JSC NIIP – for operating in the arms or related materiel sector in Russia.
•         Treasury has also imposed sanctions that prohibit the exportation of goods, services (not including financial services), or technology in support of exploration or production for Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects that have the potential to produce oil, to five Russian energy companies – Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas, and Rosneft – involved in these types of projects.  This measure complements restrictions administered by the Commerce Department and is similar to new EU measures published today.  U.S. persons have until September 26, 2014 to wind down applicable transactions with these entities pursuant to a general license that Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued today.
Okay got that now? Great…now how about Hillary’s top friend, campaign chairman and money man, John Podesta and that funky Podesta Group?
Seems in March of 2016, those Podesta fellers signed a lobby agreement with Sberbank. But there is a set of US Treasury sanctions on that bank. Is that legal? Anyone? What is ironic here is that lobby agreement goes to both houses of congress. So anyone interested or has access knows this about those Podesta boys and about that Russian bank. (Notice the top of that document)
Okay…there are 3 names listed on the lobby document:
Anthony Podesta, Principal of The Podesta Group
Stephen Rademaker, Former National Security Deputy for the Senate Majority Leader, worked at Podesta Group and is now at Covington and Burling. Interestingly enough, his wife is Danielle Pletka who is a Vice President at the American Enterprise Institute.
David Adams, Former assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs and chief legislative adviser to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Meanwhile, this Rademaker fella wrote this statement on Russia being a threat in May of this year, 2017:

Principal, The Podesta Group “The Growing Russian Military Threat in Europe:
Assessing and Addressing the Challenge”  Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
May 17, 2017
Hold on, there is more:

Also of interest is the fact that this is not first time the Podestas have been involved with Sberbank. Back in 2009, Sberbank was intimately involved in the Russian deal to purchase Uranium One. Uranium One, a company whose holdings included 20 percent of the U.S.’ uranium ore, was owned by Frank Giustra, one of Bill Clinton’s closest friends and an integral part of the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s sale to the Russian state atomic agency, besides having been facilitated by the Hillary Clinton-led State Department, was aided by the Podesta Group, who represented Giustra’s company and lobbied to advance the transaction.

In 2012, that same Podesta Group was paid $40,000 to represent the Uranium One deal to three agencies of which the Senate has committee oversight. There were: U.S. SENATE, Natl Park Service (NPS), Natl Security Council (NSC), State – Dept of (DOS). Again, this same form went to both houses of Congress.

Clinton flew with Giustra in September 2005 on a private jet to Kazakhstan. There, the mining tycoon negotiated with that nation’s mining agency, Kazataprom, for rights to three mines. After Clinton appeared publicly in support of Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had just allegedly won an election with more than 90 percent of the vote, the mining deal was approved.

Months later, Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Foundation with a pledge of $100 million more.

In 2007, UrAsia Energy, with its access to Kazakhstan’s lucrative mines, merged with South Africa’s Uranium One in a $3.5 billion deal.

Just some additional facts to add to your notes….