Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision

The Hill
October 19, 2017


As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.
Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.
“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.
The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.
The approval question, however, sat inside State for nearly two weeks without an answer, prompting Desai to make multiple pleas for a decision.
“Dear Jake, we urgently need feedback on this. Thanks, Ami,” the former president’s aide wrote in early June.
Sullivan finally responded on June 7, 2010, asking a fellow State official “What’s the deal w this?”
The documents don’t indicate what decision the State Department finally made. But current and former aides to both Clintons told The Hill on Thursday the request to meet the various Russians came from other people, and the ex-president’s aides and State decided in the end not to hold any of the meetings with the Russians on the list.
Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.
“Requests of this type were run by the State Department as a matter of course. This was yet another one of those instances. Ultimately, President Clinton did not meet with these people,” Angel Urena, the official spokesperson for the former president, told The Hill.
Aides to the ex-president, Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation said Bill Clinton did not have any conversations about Rosatom or the Uranium One deal while in Russia, and that no one connected to the deal was involved in the trip.
A spokesman for Secretary Clinton said Thursday the continued focus on the Uranium One deal smacked of partisan politics aimed at benefiting Donald Trump.
“At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits. Its roots are with a project shepherded by Steve Bannon, which should tell you all you need to know,” said Nick Merrill. “This latest iteration is simply more of the right doing Trump’s bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security.”
Current and former Clinton aides told The Hill that the list of proposed business executives the former president planned to meet raised some sensitivities after Bill Clinton’s speaker bureau got the invite for the lucrative speech.
Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after.
In addition, two of the Russians on the former president’s list had pending business that would be intersecting with State.

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