Obama Let Russians "Take Over" U.S. Uranium Industry, Republican Senator Says

A Republican senator says the Obama administration was “willfully withholding information” on a Russian bribery plot to gain U.S uranium and is demanding answers from the Department of Justice, which held off on charges while the administration approved the 2010 nuclear deal.

Senator John Barrasso stopped short of using the term "cover-up," but he did accuse the Obama administration of improperly approving a deal with a Russian atomic energy company after the FBI had determined that the Russians were involved in a "racketeering scheme" to expand their involvement in the American nuclear industry. 

“It does look to me that information was withheld by the Obama administration,” Barrasso told Newsweek. “I think it was intentional.”

The Wyoming Republican added that he believes Russians “were trying to take over U.S. uranium and it looks like the Obama administration was complicit in allowing it to occur.”

Barrasso, who serves on the energy and foreign relations committees, first sounded alarms in 2010, when he warned then-President Barack Obama of the serious national security repercussions of the so-called Uranium One deal, which allowed the Russians to control about 20 percent of the nuclear market in the U.S.

At the time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured Barrasso that steps would be taken to ensure that the Russian government’s use of American uranium would not pose any security or defense threat.

But now, seven years after Obama’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the deal, the Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe.

Government documents The Hill obtained and reported on Tuesday showed the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear officials had engaged in bribery, extortion and kickbacks before then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama officials on the foreign investment committee approved the deal.

On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley requested access to interview an undercover informant who had been barred from disclosing information he gathered over five years because he signed a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI.

Barrasso on Thursday said Holder “should have known, you would think, about what was going on in the investigation and now it looks like there was a willful attempt to not bring forward what information the FBI had for an extended period of time and that sits squarely on the feet of Obama’s Attorney General.”

A request for comment from Obama on Thursday went unanswered.

Both the Obama administration and Clinton have denied knowledge of Russian bribery before the deal. But the foundation run by Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, received millions of dollars from Russian officials while she sat on the foreign investment committee.

An Energy Department agent working with the FBI had reported that the Russians created a “racketeering scheme” through "extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks" to get its share of the U.S. uranium industry, The Hill reported.

Barrasso earlier Thursday sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions stating he was “extremely disheartened and disturbed” with newly surfaced reports of Russian collusion and requested all documents the Department of Justice disclosed to CFIUS prior to the deal and names and positions of individuals within the department who were responsible for determining what information was released to CFIUS, by December 1.

“Even though it’s very late,” Barrasso said, “We still need to get to the very bottom of it.”