National Security

Dems: Uranium One informant provided ‘no evidence’ of Clinton ‘quid pro quo’


A confidential informant billed by House Republicans as having “explosive” information about the 2010 Uranium One deal approved during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State provided “no evidence of a quid pro quo” involving Clinton, Democratic staff said in a summary of the informant’s closed-door testimony obtained by The Hill on Thursday.

In February, staff from three panels — the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Intelligence Committee — interviewed William Douglas Campbell, a confidential informant to the FBI during its investigation and prosecution of former Russian official Vadim Mikerin.

Mikerin was the head of U.S. operations for Tenex, a unit of the same Russian state-owned nuclear power company, Rosatom, that purchased Uranium One. He was charged with taking bribes from a shipping company in exchange for contracts to transport Russian uranium into the U.S. He eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison in 2015.

{mosads}Republicans had heavily hinted that Campbell would be able to provide testimony linking a speech payment to former President Bill Clinton to the approval of the Uranium One deal by a nine-agency review board known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The deal was approved unanimously. 

“You do have the quid, you have the quo. This informant, I believe, would be able to link those two together,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said on Fox News in October.

During the interview, Democratic staff say, Campbell was unable to point to anything to support his claims that the review process had been improperly influenced “other than the fact that the [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)] allowed the deal to go through.”

“When asked whether he had any evidence that Russian influence on the Clintons affected CFIUS’s review of the Uranium One deal, Mr. Campbell stated that ‘that was outside my pay grade’ and that the topic was ‘not my bailiwick,’ ” according to Democrats. 

He told investigators that he “looked on Google to see what CFIUS was about” after the deal was approved in 2010.

Asked if he had any evidence to support DeSantis’s claim that the $500,000 speaking fee paid to Clinton was part of a “quid pro quo,” Campbell said he did not recall any individual ever mentioning the fee.

An attorney for Campbell, Victoria Toensing, tweeted Thursday that the Democratic summary “omits and twists facts.” 

“#UraniumOne witness also told Congress Russians were confident Deal would be approved because of their influence with corrupt #Clintons. Russians mocked #Obama for being weak and naive about what they were doing,” Toensing wrote. 

In a separate statement to The Hill, Toensing characterized the claims in the Democratic memo as false and misleading. 

During his testimony, Campbell also said he was told by Russian nuclear executives that Moscow had hired the American lobbying firm APCO Worldwide to influence the Clintons and U.S. policy and that they expected the firm to provide in-kind support for the Clintons’ Global Initiative.

He said he believed that APCO sought “meetings at Commerce” and other “federal agencies” — but according to Democrats claimed not to know if any of those alleged efforts “ever came to fruition.”

Campbell “conceded that he was unaware of anything APCO had done or whether any specific meetings had occurred, and he did not explain the basis for his believe that APCO sought those meetings,” Democrats wrote.

APCO has publicly denied any connection between its work for Tenex and its work for the Clinton charity. The volunteer work began in 2007, according to the statement, and continued for five years after its work for Tenex concluded.

The Democratic memo — which they said they released after Republicans refused to have a transcript made during the interview — paints Campbell as an unreliable witness who relied heavily on his own notes to help combat what he confessed to be a “hazy” memory of some of the events he was being asked to recall.

It confirms previous reporting that the Justice Department initially planned to build their case against Mikerin based on evidence provided by Campbell, but changed their mind after they began to have “serious credibility concerns” based on “inconsistencies” between his testimony and documents they obtained during the investigation. 

Justice Department officials also told congressional investigators that there was a “high chance” Campbell had taken payments from Mikerin’s firm before he was authorized to do so by the government — and that he had concealed that fact from federal investigators. 

All of that led Justice to assess that Campbell was not a credible witness and they “did not want to rely on him at trial,” the Democrats said.

Toensing characterized those representations of Campbell as misleading. In both a statement and a phone call with The Hill, she attributed Campbell’s alleged lapses in memory to medication taken for leukemia. She disputed that the Justice Department had credibility concerns about Campbell and said that he was not asked to testify at any trial for Mikerin because the U.S. attorney’s office had “mishandled” the case. 

The memo also suggests that Campbell had clashed with the FBI over payments. According to the Democratic account, he claimed that the FBI reneged on a promise to repay him the kickback extortion payments he made while working with the FBI.

Expressing frustration, he said the bureau blocked him from suing to recover $500,000 from Mikerin and others. He told investigators that while he was paid just over $50,000 for his work, “the amount represented only about a tenth of what I had spent.”

Although both cases involve Rosatom, there is no public evidence linking Mikerin’s conviction to the Uranium One deal. 

Republicans have questioned the circumstances of the Uranium One deal since it was scrutinized conservative author Peter Schweizer’s 2015 book “Clinton Cash.”

GOP members spearheading the congressional probe into the matter — which was announced in October — say they want to know whether the deal should have been approved in the first place, fearing it helped give Russia control of domestic uranium supplies.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) at the time cited “very, very real concerns about why we would allow a Russian-owned company to get access to 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.”

“It’s important we find out why that deal went through,” King said.

The Toronto-based Uranium One controlled land equal to about 20 percent of the U.S.’s uranium capacity, according to — although experts note that the country doesn’t actually produce a significant amount of the world’s uranium supply. The U.S. imports more than 90 percent of its uranium.

Rosatom began buying shares in the Toronto-based company in 2009 and in 2010 sought to obtain majority ownership, making it a deal that required the approval of CFIUS.

Republicans have long accused the former secretary of tying the State Department’s approval of the takeover to $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The State Department did not take unilateral action but instead was one of the nine agencies on the CFIUS review board. The other members of CFIUS include the Treasury Department, the Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department and the Justice Department.

The Clinton campaign has maintained that the then-secretary of State was not directly involved in the process.

Amanda Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), thanked Campbell for speaking to lawmakers.

“We appreciate Mr. Campbell’s service to our country and his willingness to appear before the Committee to answer questions related to our core investigative mission: to determine what the FBI did or did not know at the time CFIUS approved the Uranium One deal, and how we can improve the CFIUS process and agency coordination moving forward.”

–Updated on March 9.

Tags Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton Pete King Ron DeSantis Trey Gowdy
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