Yesterday Michael Flynn entered a guilty plea to the charge of lying to the FBI about two meetings he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December of 2016. According to reports Flynn is now cooperating in the investigation of alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia as it allegedly attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The stock market took a dive when Brian Ross of ABC News reported that candidate Donald Trump had instructed Flynn to reach out to Russian officials. The Dow Jones Industrial Average which was hitting record highs suddenly dropped 350 points.
Meanwhile euphoria gripped the fever swamps of the left. Mueller had his "smoking gun." With Flynn apparently poised to testify that Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians when he was a candidate, Mueller had proof that Trump colluded with Russians to rig the U.S. presidential election. Then came ABC's correction.
Ross issued a “clarification” to his report on ABC “World Tonight,” hours after the initial bombshell allegation about pre-election Russia contacts was made on air.
“A clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today,” Ross told ABC “World Tonight” host David Muir.
“He said the president had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He’s now clarifying that, saying, according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots. And then after the election, the president-elect asked him to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS.”
The stock market began to rebound even before Ross's correction was announced, probably buoyed by the anticipated Senate tax reform vote. By market close the Dow had recovered to where it was only 40 points down from its previous close, still well above the 24,000 barrier it had broken through on the day before. Lefty dreams of impeachment began to fade. There's still nothing about contacts between Trump's transition team and foreign leaders that was anything but the normal practice for an incoming administration.
But with Flynn's guilty plea we finally have a crime related to the 2016 elections. Up to now the only known illegality is the leaking of unmasked names of Trump campaign personnel who were under surveillance by the Obama administration. There may be other illegalities and in my opinion there probably are, like the surveillance itself, but the leaking of unmasked names are the only actions we know of with a certainty that are against the law.
Also since Flynn entered his plea, there's been a lot of talk about all the leverage Special Counsel Robert Mueller might now have for getting Flynn to incriminate President Trump. With Mueller breathing down his neck, you get the sense that all the pressure is on Trump, but that may not be quite true. The saying goes, if you take a shot at the king, you better kill him, so what might Mueller have to worry about if he takes his shot?
Answer: Uranium One.
An FBI investigation that began prior to 2010 had accumulated substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in a scheme of bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering that was intended to expand Russia's atomic energy business inside the United States. Documentary evidence showed that President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation received millions of dollars during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.
The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened ... on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”
In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.
So how would all of this be a problem for Mueller? Answer: Robert Mueller was head of the FBI when the investigation began in 2009. And, oddly enough, James Comey was FBI director when it ended in 2015.
The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations of all things related to Russia, his deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. It was Andrew McCabe's wife, you may recall, who received more than a half million dollar campaign contribution from now Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for her Virginia state Senate campaign. Thicker than thieves.
To sum up the Uranium One scandal, a lot of money changed hands, Russia got uranium, the Clintons got millions, the Clinton Foundation got hundreds of millions, and the investigating team, that included Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe, and James Comey, were apparently looking the other way while it all went down. Inquiring minds are beginning to ask questions.
So, what will Robert Mueller do? Can he keep himself out of the crosshairs when Congress begins to demand to know how the Uranium One deal really went down? What does Robert Mueller know about Uranium One? Will he help himself by going hard after President Trump, or somebody in his family like Jared Kushner?
Or would he be better off looking into the origins and financing of the Steele Dossier? That would turn his focus on the Democrats and Hillary Clinton, since it's been reported that Hillary and the DNC paid for the dossier, transactions that sent Clinton campaign and DNC money through Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to "Russian sources." And once his attention turns to Hillary's indirect collusion with the Russians, would his investigation then be expanded to include the Clinton Foundation.
Trump and Mueller may be at something of a standoff. Trump can't fire Mueller, and Mueller doesn't seem to have anything on Trump. So far Mueller's investigation looks like a rerun of the Scooter Libby persecution. Is Michael Flynn playing the Scooter Libby role in Robert Mueller's shot at bringing Trump down? And what happens if his shot doesn't kill the king?