As we reported yesterday, as the media continues to lose their collective minds over $100,000 worth of Facebook ads allegedly purchased by Russians during the 2016 election, the Senate Judiciary Committee has finally decided they're going to take a look into a shady Russian deal - first profiled here last summer - that handed Putin 20% of America's uranium reserves, was approved by the Obama administration during an ongoing FBI investigation into charges of bribery, extortion and money laundering by the Russian buyer and netted the Clintons millions of dollars in donations and 'speaking fees."
Recall that on Wednesday it was reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee launched a full-scale probe into a Russian nuclear bribery case, demanding several federal agencies disclose whether they knew the FBI had uncovered the corruption before the Obama administration in 2010 approved a controversial uranium deal with Moscow. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, gets his first chance to raise the issue in public on Wednesday when he questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an oversight hearing.
"It has recently come to the Committee’s attention that employees of Rosatom were involved in a criminal enterprise involving a conspiracy to commit extortion and money laundering during the time of the CFIUS transaction," Grassley wrote in one such letter addressed to Sessions.
"The fact that Rosatom subsidiaries in the United States were under criminal investigation as a result of a U.S. intelligence operation apparently around the time CFIUS approved the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction raises questions about whether that information factored into CFIUS’ decision to approve the transaction," the chairman added.
Fast forward to this week when thanks to newly released affidavits from a case that landed one of the Russian co-conspirators, Vadim Mikerin, in jail, we learned on Tuesday that not only was the Obama administration aware the Russians' illegal acts in the U.S. but it may have also been fully aware that "Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow."
It gets better: in an unexpected twist, the FBI's investigation into this particular Russian plot began in 2009 under none other than Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case... and ended in late 2015 under the controversial, former FBI Director James Comey who was relieved of his duties by President Trump. "Surprisingly" when the DOJ finally arrested Mikerin in 2014, following 5 years of investigations in a massive international bribery and money-laundering scheme, rather than publicly celebrate, they seemingly swept it under the rug. In fact, there was no public release concerning the case at all until a full year later when the DOJ announced a plea deal with Mikerin right before labor day.
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Putting all that together, it is not difficult to see why the story has gotten percisely zero mainstream media coverage in the past 48 hours, or past year for that matter.
But not the president... Upon waking up on Thursday, Trump immediately went on twitter to slam the "Fake media" for not following the Russian uranium deal, and once again accused both Obama and the Clintons:
"Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!"
Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2017
We expect that now that Trump plans on making a daily twitter spectacle of this particular Russian involvement, the DOJ and FBI may have no choice but to reopen the investigation, with potentially adverse consequences for Mueller, Comey, including perhaps Clinton and Obama.
In a separate tweet on Thursday, Trump said he thought there is enough to support in the Senate to pass its 2018 budget resolution, a key step toward tax reform, but added, "who knows?"
"Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts. I think we have the votes, but who knows?" he tweeted.
Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts. I think we have the votes, but who knows?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2017
Later on Thursday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the budget resolution bill, which is a crucial step before the Republicans formally work towards a tax reform package by the end the year. Currently, the GOP control 52 seats in the Chamber and with Mississippi’s Cochran off due to sickness, there is a slimmer margin of error to pass this resolution which seeks to authorise a deficit increase of cUS$1.5trn over the next 10 years. That said, with the late backing of Senator Collins from Maine, the bill is expected to pass before the weekend and ahead of it going on to the next (tougher) phase, which includes drafting the tax bill and getting it through the committee and the full Senate.
If Republicans pass the budget resolution, they can utilize a legislative tool called reconciliation that would allow them to move tax legislation through the Senate on a simple majority vote. Otherwise, tax reform would need 60 votes, which would make the GOP proposal's passage much less likely as it would need to pull support from all Republican lawmakers as well as some Democrats.