J. Michael Waller, writing in the Daily Caller, says that new FBI information about corruption in a Clinton-approved uranium deal with Russia raises questions about Clinton’s actions after the FBI broke up a deep-cover Russian spy ring in 2010. The FBI ran an elaborate and highly successful operation called Ghost Stories to monitor and rip apart a deep-cover Russian agent network. It tracked a ring of Russian spies who lived between Boston and Washington, D.C. under false identities.
In 2010, thanks to the Ghost Stories operation, the FBI arrested 10 spies. According to Waller, “Secretary of State Clinton worked feverishly to return the Russian agents to Moscow in a hastily arranged, lopsided deal with Putin.”
If this is true, why did Clinton do so? Waller ties her actions to the Russia uranium deal:
For the Clintons, the FBI’s biggest counterintelligence bust in history couldn’t have come at a worse time. . .It all happened as the uranium deal was in play: An arrangement to provide Moscow’s state Rosatom nuclear agency with 20 percent of American uranium capacity, with $145,000,000 to pour into the Clinton Family Foundation and its projects.
Indeed, the day the FBI arrests occurred the day before Bill Clinton was to give a speech in Moscow. A Kremlin-connected investment bank, Renaissance Capital, paid the former president $500,000 for the hour-long appearance.
At the time of the arrests, a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton told told ABC News that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this [Russian] spy ring.” But this statement appears to have been false.
Redacted evidence that the FBI submitted to a federal court shows that Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR), the former KGB First Chief Directorate, targeted Clinton in 2008 and tried to burrow into her inner circle the next year when she was secretary of state. (Press reports often confuse Russia’s main internal security entity, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, with the SVR.)
It’s natural that a Russian spy ring might target the Secretary of State regardless of who held that position. Thus, Team Hillary’s false denial that the spies targeted her seems like a case of “the lady” protesting too much.
Indeed, Waller reports an extraordinary level of targeting aimed at Hillary Clinton, considered an easy mark due to her “blind ambition” and “insatiable desire for cash to enrich her family, friends, and political machine.”:
From New York, SVR agent Lidiya Guryeva had Clinton in her sights. Guryeva had a real-life job, under the assumed name Cynthia Murphy, as vice president of a high-end tax services company in lower Manhattan. Guryeva’s prime targets, FBI evidence and later news reports show, were Clinton and no fewer than five members of her inner circle. . . .
While the FBI’s unclassified information is vague, it is clear that Guryeva’s target was an early Obama administration member from New York who handled foreign policy after having run for high-level public office. Clinton is the only person fitting that description.
One can’t blame Hillary Clinton for being the target of spies. But it is fair to examine the State Department’s posture towards Russia, as well as her Foundation’s dealings, during the time its spies were trying to influence her. Waller reminds us:
Clinton pledged at Foggy Bottom to “reset” relations with the Putin-controlled regime. She blamed the former George W. Bush administration for the bad feelings. To the Kremlin’s relief, she opposed what would become the Magnitsky Act to sanction Russian criminal oligarchs and regime figures. . . .
In addition, says Waller:
[Clinton] immediately used her position as America’s top diplomat to pour Russia-related money into her family foundation. One of her earliest acts as secretary of state was personally to authorize the State Department to arrange for 28 American tech CEOs and venture capitalists – 17 of them Clinton Foundation donors – to visit a Russian high-tech hub called Skolkovo. With Skolkovo, the SVR doesn’t need to steal when it can arrange legal purchases.
The US military calls Skolkovo “an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage.” The Skolkovo visit, which reportedly began as a Clinton Foundation initiative, occurred in May, 2010, a month before the arrests.
When the FBI broke up the Russian spy ring, Eric Holder claimed the sudden arrests were made to prevent one of the spies from fleeing the United States. However, FBI counterintelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi later gave a different reason: “We were becoming very concerned they were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.”
According to Waller, Hillary Clinton, almost certainly the cabinet member is question, had her own concern:
Hillary Clinton was mining Kremlin cash for her personal benefit while secretary of state, at the exact time Putin’s SVR spies were targeting her and penetrating her inner circle. She had every personal motivation to make the spy problem disappear and deny that she had been a target. . . .
She toiled feverishly to get the 10 Ghost Stories spies back to Moscow as quickly as possible. She accepted whatever Putin would give her to pass off as a face-saving swap.
The swap occurred during the Fourth of July weekend, when few in Washington were paying attention.
All Putin gave up, according to Waller, was an SVR officer who had been an American double agent, an open-source researcher whom Amnesty International considered a political prisoner, a Russian military intelligence colonel who spied for the British, and an elderly ex-KGB man from Soviet times.
In exchange, Putin received ten relatively young, highly trained Russian spies in custody with immense, fresh knowledge of SVR statecraft.
Waller concludes by asking these questions:
Precisely what did the FBI know about Russia’s spy service targeting Hillary Clinton and her inner circle? Why did Clinton deny through spokespersons that she had been a Russian target? Why did she work so feverishly to get the spies out of the United States and back to Russia?
Why has the FBI leadership not been more vocal in touting one of its greatest counterintelligence successes ever? And why did nobody in the FBI leadership raise this issue during the 2016 Russian election meddling controversy?
It would be premature to say that the answer to any of these questions lies in the Russia uranium deal and the “Clinton cash” associated with it. But, if Waller has reported accurately, it is not too early to entertain, and to investigate, the possibility.