Russian under investigation for bribery by FBI given visa by Obama administration

An interesting sidelight to the Russian Uranium One caper was reported by The Hill yesterday, involving a Russian TENEX executive whom the FBI was investigating for bribery and extortion who was granted a visa to enter the U.S. by the Obama administration.

TENEX is an American subsidiary of Rosatom, the company involved in buying an interest in Uranium One.

The records show TENEX executive Vadim Mikerin was engaged in illegal conduct as early as the fall of 2009, yet he was allowed to enter the country by the Obama administration with a L1 temporary work visa when he arrived in December 2011.

Milkerin's visa was renewed in August 2014, just months before he was arrested and charged with extortion, the records show. He and his company applied for the visa in summer 2011, records show.

The lengthy delay is now being investigated by multiple GOP-led congressional committees, one of which sent a letter Tuesday to the State Department and Homeland Security Department demanding answers.

"It is concerning that a suspected criminal was able to apply for and renew a work visa while being under FBI investigation," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote in the letter.

Officials for the FBI, State and Homeland did not return calls and emails seeking an explanation why Mikerin was granted a visa after the FBI already had evidence he was engaged in wrongdoing.

Officials familiar with law enforcement issues involving visas said it was possible the FBI evidence on Mikerin was not flagged in databases checked by State and Homeland before Mikerin was granted entry.

They added another possibility was that the FBI asked the agencies to allow Mikerin to enter the country so they could monitor his activities as part of a larger counterintelligence operation and detect other possible conspirators.

The latter explanation makes sense.  The FBI may have wanted to cast a wider net and believed Mikerin could lead to other co-conspirators. 

But as Andrew McCarthy points out, there was a curious delay between the time the FBI knew that Mikerin was conducting criminal activity in this country and his indictment in 2014.

Even though the FBI had an informant collecting damning information, and had a prosecutable case against Mikerin by early 2010, the extortion racket against American energy companies was permitted to continue into the summer of 2014. It was only then that, finally, Mikerin and his confederates were arrested.

Why then? This is not rocket science. In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Putin also began massing forces on the Ukrainian border, coordinating and conducting attacks, ultimately taking control of territory. Clearly, the pie-in-the-sky Obama reset was dead. Furthermore, the prosecution of Mikerin's racketeering scheme had been so delayed that the Justice Department risked losing the ability to charge the 2009 felonies because of the five-year statute of limitations on most federal crimes.

Still, a lid needed to be kept on the case. It would have made for an epic Obama administration scandal, and a body blow to Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes, if in the midst of Russia's 2014 aggression, public attention had been drawn to the failure, four years earlier, to prosecute a national-security case in order to protect Russia's takeover of U.S. nuclear assets.

The Obama administration needed to make this case go away – without a public trial if at all possible.

Think about this: The investigation of Russian racketeering in the American energy sector was the kind of spectacular success over which the FBI and Justice Department typically do a bells-n-whistles victory lap – the big self-congratulatory press conference followed by the media-intensive prosecutions...and, of course, more press conferences.

Here...crickets. 

The cover-up continues today.  With Democrats like Hillary Clinton claiming that the entire episode has been "debunked" or that it's a nothingburger, getting to the bottom of this scandal is going to be difficult.

It really is an extraordinary story.  A nexus of Russian criminal enterprises, U.S. energy companies, and officials in the Obama administration all conspired to enrich each other by selling off 20% of U.S. uranium access. 

Sounds like a great plot for a movie – except it really happened, and the cover-up continues.

An interesting sidelight to the Russian Uranium One caper was reported by The Hill yesterday, involving a Russian TENEX executive whom the FBI was investigating for bribery and extortion who was granted a visa to enter the U.S. by the Obama administration.

TENEX is an American subsidiary of Rosatom, the company involved in buying an interest in Uranium One.

The records show TENEX executive Vadim Mikerin was engaged in illegal conduct as early as the fall of 2009, yet he was allowed to enter the country by the Obama administration with a L1 temporary work visa when he arrived in December 2011.

Milkerin's visa was renewed in August 2014, just months before he was arrested and charged with extortion, the records show. He and his company applied for the visa in summer 2011, records show.

The lengthy delay is now being investigated by multiple GOP-led congressional committees, one of which sent a letter Tuesday to the State Department and Homeland Security Department demanding answers.

"It is concerning that a suspected criminal was able to apply for and renew a work visa while being under FBI investigation," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote in the letter.

Officials for the FBI, State and Homeland did not return calls and emails seeking an explanation why Mikerin was granted a visa after the FBI already had evidence he was engaged in wrongdoing.

Officials familiar with law enforcement issues involving visas said it was possible the FBI evidence on Mikerin was not flagged in databases checked by State and Homeland before Mikerin was granted entry.

They added another possibility was that the FBI asked the agencies to allow Mikerin to enter the country so they could monitor his activities as part of a larger counterintelligence operation and detect other possible conspirators.

The latter explanation makes sense.  The FBI may have wanted to cast a wider net and believed Mikerin could lead to other co-conspirators. 

But as Andrew McCarthy points out, there was a curious delay between the time the FBI knew that Mikerin was conducting criminal activity in this country and his indictment in 2014.

Even though the FBI had an informant collecting damning information, and had a prosecutable case against Mikerin by early 2010, the extortion racket against American energy companies was permitted to continue into the summer of 2014. It was only then that, finally, Mikerin and his confederates were arrested.

Why then? This is not rocket science. In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Putin also began massing forces on the Ukrainian border, coordinating and conducting attacks, ultimately taking control of territory. Clearly, the pie-in-the-sky Obama reset was dead. Furthermore, the prosecution of Mikerin's racketeering scheme had been so delayed that the Justice Department risked losing the ability to charge the 2009 felonies because of the five-year statute of limitations on most federal crimes.

Still, a lid needed to be kept on the case. It would have made for an epic Obama administration scandal, and a body blow to Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes, if in the midst of Russia's 2014 aggression, public attention had been drawn to the failure, four years earlier, to prosecute a national-security case in order to protect Russia's takeover of U.S. nuclear assets.

The Obama administration needed to make this case go away – without a public trial if at all possible.

Think about this: The investigation of Russian racketeering in the American energy sector was the kind of spectacular success over which the FBI and Justice Department typically do a bells-n-whistles victory lap – the big self-congratulatory press conference followed by the media-intensive prosecutions...and, of course, more press conferences.

Here...crickets. 

The cover-up continues today.  With Democrats like Hillary Clinton claiming that the entire episode has been "debunked" or that it's a nothingburger, getting to the bottom of this scandal is going to be difficult.

It really is an extraordinary story.  A nexus of Russian criminal enterprises, U.S. energy companies, and officials in the Obama administration all conspired to enrich each other by selling off 20% of U.S. uranium access. 

Sounds like a great plot for a movie – except it really happened, and the cover-up continues.

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