The House Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday it has begun a formal investigation into whether Russia beginning in 2009 sought to curry favor with the Obama administration to win favorable nuclear business decisions.
Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said that Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who raised questions back in 2010 about Obama administration decisions involving the Canadian company Uranium One, will help lead the expanded part of the investigation as part of the panel’s investigative subcommittee.
“Our committee has been looking into this for a while now. We have been in touch with different individuals who have brought us information,” Nunes said at a Capitol Hill press conference.
He said one of the goals would be to interview a former FBI undercover informant who provided information starting in 2009 about a kickback and bribery scheme involving Russian nuclear industry figures.
Convictions were eventually secured by the Justice Department in 2015 but the undercover informant has been unable to talk to Congress about what he witnessed because he signed a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI.
“There is a concern over the non-disclosure agreement. We don't think that is a concern," Nunes said. "We think that any American if they have information even if it’s top secret at the top-secret level they can come to the House Intelligence Committee and provide that information as a whistleblower if they would like.”
Nunes’s decision comes after a series of stories in The Hill revealed that the FBI gathered evidence as early as 2009 showing Russia’s main commercial nuclear executive in the United States orchestrated a racketeering scheme involving bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion.
The evidence of wrongdoing pre-dated a decision by the Obama administration in 2010 to approve the Russia company Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One, which controlled about a fifth of America’s uranium reserves. Former President Bill Clinton received a $500,000 speaking fee and millions in donations from parties interested in the decision while it was being reviewed by the State Department, which at the time was under the leadership of his wife, Hillary Clinton.
King, who also chairs an oversight subcommittee on the House Intelligence Committee, first raised questions about the Uranium One deal back in 2010 and said the new investigation is a logical extension of that inquiry.
“Seven years ago this month I raised these objections with the treasury secretary who said they were being fully investigated and obviously we want to see what happened with that inquiry. This will go forward,” King said.