Officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) observed Russian spies trying to get close to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as early as 2009 to “win access” to her and Bill Clinton as Russia tried to expand their nuclear energy business.
Unsealed documents from the FBI revealed that members of a Russian spy ring were tasked to get close to Clinton while Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company lobbied the Obama administration, The Hill reported.
The Russians, who hired a Washington firm to conduct their lobbying efforts, were already giving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to the Clinton Foundation which “helped the Russian company secure federal decisions that led to billions in new U.S. commercial nuclear business.”
FBI agents were reportedly stunned by the time and size of a $500,000 check that Bill Clinton received from a Kremlin-linked bank for a single speech in 2010 — the largest single check he has ever received for a speech.
An official who was not authorized to speak with the media told The Hill that the Russians targeted Clinton because she was the “quarterback” for the Obama administration’s efforts to reset relations with Russia and because they believed she would be president after Obama. The source cited as evidence communications that the FBI intercepted where Russian handlers instructed their spies to gather information on the State Department.
The report noted that U.S. officials conducted a 10-year operation monitoring the Russian spy ring:
It was one of the most important U.S. counterintelligence victories against Russia in history, and famous for nabbing the glamorous spy-turned-model Anna Chapman.
While Chapman dominated the headlines surrounding that spy ring, another Russian woman posing as a mundane New Jersey accountant named Cynthia Murphy was closing in on accessing Secretary Clinton’s department, according to records and interviews.
Murphy, living with her husband and kids in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, reported a major breakthrough in February 2009 in an electronic message sent to her handlers: she had scored access to a major Democrat, FBI records state.
“Murphy had several work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account,” one FBI record from the case read. “The message accurately described the financier as ‘prominent in politics,’ ‘an active fund-raiser’ for [a major political party, name omitted] and a ‘personal friend’ of [a current Cabinet official, name redacted].”
Multiple current and former officials confirmed to The Hill that the Cabinet officer was Hillary Clinton, the fundraiser was New York financier Alan Patricof and the political party was the Democratic National Committee. None of the Americans were ever suspected of illegalities, but the episode made clear the Russian spies were stepping up their operations against the new administration after years of working in a “sleeper” capacity, officials said.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill refused to answer questions from The Hill as to whether Clinton knew about the Russian spy effort but he suggested that this entire ordeal was conjured up by “the Right” to distract from the Russia investigation involving the Trump presidential campaign.
“Nothing has changed since the last time this was addressed, including the right’s transparent attempts to distract from their own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security,” Merrill wrote in an email to The Hill.
One day after authorities arrested spies in Russia’s sleeper ring, the FBI noticed another event that was of deep concern — Bill Clinton collected a $500,000 check for giving a 90-minute ($5,555 per minute) speech in Moscow:
The check caught the attention of FBI agents, especially with Hillary Clinton having recently returned from meetings in Russia, and her department working on a variety of issues where Moscow had an interest, records show.
One issue was American approval of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom’s purchase of a Canadian company called Uranium One, which controlled 20 percent of America’s strategic uranium reserves. State was one of more than a dozen federal agencies that needed to weigh in, and a Clinton deputy was handling the matter.
The second issue was the Russian company TENEX’s desire to score a new raft of commercial nuclear sales to U.S. companies. TENEX for years was selling uranium recycled from old Soviet warheads to the United States. But that deal was coming to an end and now it needed a new U.S. market.
And the third was a promise Secretary Clinton herself made to Russian leaders to round up support in America’s Silicon Valley for then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s dream for a new high-tech hub outside Moscow known as Skolkovo. A team of venture capitalists had been dispatched to Moscow just a few weeks before Bill Clinton landed his payday, records show.
Before top U.S. officials, including Obama and Clinton, approved the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom, the FBI knew about a Russian bribery scheme that was taking place aimed at influencing the decision by U.S. officials which included “bribery, kickbacks, money laundering, and extortion.”
The FBI learned of the Russian crimes after a U.S. businessman acted as a voluntary informant for the FBI for years and helped them obtain evidence.
That informant was blocked by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department from testifying to Congress about what he knew — which would have “drawn attention to the Russian corruption during the 2016 presidential race,” The Hill reported.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) called on the lawyer of the informant to allow her client to testify to Congress what he knows as this story of Russian corruption appears to be unraveling on the Democrats.