Either John Podesta was quite a Russian dupe, or...
Was John Podesta a Russian dupe? At a minimum, he was a Russian dupe, based on information from a long, interesting article today titled "How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies," from Politico magazine.
Politico points out that the very firm that Podesta was involved with, Rusnano USA (via its Joule subsidiary), is the likely new vehicle for Russian spying these days, effectively replacing the now shuttered Russian consulate in San Francisco. Politico writes (emphasis mine):
But even with the consulate shuttered, there are alternative vehicles for Russian intelligence-gathering in Silicon Valley. One potential mechanism, said three former intelligence officials, is Rusnano USA, the sole U.S. subsidiary of Rusnano, a Russian government-owned venture capital firm primarily focused on nanotechnology. Rusnano USA, which was founded in 2011, is located in Menlo Park, near Stanford University. "Some of the [potential intelligence-gathering] activities Rusnano USA was involved in were not only related to the acquisition of technology, but also inserting people into venture capital groups, in developing those relationships in Silicon Valley that allowed them to get their tentacles into everything," one former intelligence official told me. "And Rusnano USA was kind of the mechanism for that."
Rusnano's interests, said this former official, have extended to technology with both civilian and potential military applications. U.S. intelligence officials were very concerned about contacts between Rusnano USA employees and suspected Russian intelligence officers based at Russia's San Francisco Consulate and elsewhere, this person said. "The Russians treated [Rusnano USA] as an intelligence platform, from which they launched operations," said another former U.S. intelligence official. (Rusnano USA and the Russian Embassy in Washington, did not respond to requests for comment.)
Rusnano, eh? That's the one former Clinton campaign chief John Podesta was involved with, though Politico doesn't mention it. Remember when John Podesta got his board seat on a green energy company called Joule? Here is what the Daily Caller reported back in 2017:
Podesta – Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman and former President Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff – first made contact with the Russian firm in 2011, when he joined the boards and executive committees of three related entities: Boston-based Joule Unlimited; Rotterdam-based Joule Global Holdings; Joule Global Stichting, the company's controlling interest. All are high-tech renewable energy enterprises.
Three months after Podesta's arrival, Joule Unlimited accepted a 1 billion ruble investment from Rusnano, amounting to $35 million in U.S. currency. The firm also awarded a Joule board seat in February 2012 to Anatoly Chubais, Rusnano's CEO, who has been depicted as a corrupt figure.
So what we have is the main Russian spying vehicle, Rusnano, just coincidentally, getting involved with John Podesta's green energy company, where he sat as a board member, plopping down its Russian CEO, Anatoly Chubais, into a board seat next to him, and, oh, what a coincidence, rolling a billion rubles ($35 million) into the operation as an "investment." This sounds like dupe-itude to me. The Russians don't throw $35 million around without knowing what they are doing. Here is what I wrote at the time:
Chubais didn't have any problem forging ties with the politically connected Podesta, then an obscure if capable campaign operative, as the two got seats on the board of a green energy company called Joule in 2011, and $35 million in Russian capital flowed in. Podesta's time on the board with Chubais coincided exactly with his friend Hillary Clinton's term as Secretary of State. Podesta ended up with 75,000 shares of Joule, and 'forgot' to mention them when he joined the Obama administration in 2014.
Podesta's entry into the White House would have included a top-secret security clearance. Think his forgetfulness was really memory loss?
Maybe he didn't know at the time what this vehicle, Rusnano, also known as "Putin's baby," was up to or capable of. But does anyone out there think Podesta is a naïve guy? Naïve in some ways, yes, given that in his later hacked emails, his password was "password." Possibly naïve on how espionage works. But would he really be naïve on something involving how money and influence work? It's his stock in trade, and he's at the pinnacle of it.
The Politico report raises many troubling questions about how the Russians utilized Podesta. It says Rusnano focuses on "inserting people" in key places for the purpose of spying, which could include Chubais in that board seat next to Podesta. Podesta himself, in turn, could lead them to more introductions, which in turn could lead to more places to insert people. Podesta would also be useful for knowing what went on in the White House.
Politico's report also says the company is all in for getting its hands on military-applicable dual technology, which could have led to loss of secrets. Worst of all, the report says U.S. intelligence people knew about it and found it worrying. Did they ship warnings to FBI headquarters to be blocked by Peter Strzok, or maybe the White House, only to find Russia'ed-up Podesta on the other end of the line? And what of the quid pro quo around the support Hillary Clinton gave to Russia's Silicon Valley development as cash flowed into the Clinton Foundation? Peter Schweizer has the story on that. Was Podesta's hand in that, too? Lastly, what of the involvement of Tony Podesta, Podesta's brother, with Rosatom which got hold of 20% of America's uranium supply, courtesy of Hillary Clinton again, as well as his involvement with the same pro-Russia Ukrainian think-tank Paul Manafort is in so much legal trouble for? It raises questions, given the amount of compromising that could have gone on, with this guy who "forgot."
One can only hope Podesta was only a "dupe" and not something worse.