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Uncovering the Russia ties of Hillary’s campaign chief

Lawmakers failed to seize on an alarming development in the Russia collusion story last week, one that should spark serious and immediate congressional inquiry.

But it didn’t involve President Trump or his administration.

Lawmakers failed to seize on an alarming development in the Russia collusion story last week, one that should spark serious and immediate congressional inquiry.

But it didn’t involve President Trump or his administration.

During a heated Fox Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chief John Podesta made a series of misleading statements when questioned about his involvement in a company that received $35 million from the Russian government while Clinton served as secretary of state.

On Jan. 18, 2011, a small green-energy company named Joule Unlimited announced Podesta’s appointment to its board. Months later, Rusnano, a Kremlin-backed investment fund founded by Vladimir Putin, pumped $35 million into Joule. Serving alongside Podesta on Joule’s board were senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and oligarch Ruben Vardanyan, who has been appointed by Putin to a Russian economic modernization council.

Bartiromo asked Podesta why he failed to disclose his role in Joule as required by law when he entered the White House in January 2014 to serve as counselor to President Barack Obama.

“Maria, that’s not true. I fully disclosed and was completely compliant,” Podesta shot back.

But according to his own financial disclosure form, Podesta only listed two of the three entities that made up Joule Unlimited, failing to disclose his presence on the board of the Dutch-registered Stichting Joule Global Foundation.

When Bartiromo pressed Podesta on the whereabouts of his 75,000 shares of Joule stock, Podesta resorted to Clintonesque semantics: “I didn’t have any stock in any Russian company!”

Notice the rhetorical sleight of tongue there: Joule is based in Massachusetts, not Russia, making Podesta’s statement technically true. Podesta added: “And by the way, I divested before I went into the White House.”

Yet again, it’s not that simple. WikiLeaks documents reveal that when he joined the Obama White House, Podesta transferred his Joule shares to an LLC controlled by his adult children. He also resumed communicating with Joule and Joule investors after leaving the White House and joining Clinton’s campaign. In fact, he received an invoice from his lawyers in April 2015 — a consent request for Dmitry Akhanov of Rusnano USA to join Joule’s board.

But nothing to see here, Podesta insisted.

“I was on the board of an American company that did business here and only here,” he said. “The Russian company had a small investment in that company. We can go round and around the tree.”

Was Joule’s business “here and only here” in America as Podesta claimed? Not according to Joule’s own CEO and president, Bill Sims. While thanking Putin’s Rusnano, Sims said the investment would help support “the development of our global presence” and “complements the company’s expansion plans in Europe, the Middle East, and Mexico.” Moreover, Stichting Joule is itself an overseas entity. Indeed, Rusnano’s investment in Joule was in part to develop a manufacturing facility in Russia.

And what about Podesta’s contention that Putin’s investment fund represented a “small investment” in Joule? In 2012 the company claimed it had raised $110 million to date.

That meant the Kremlin-backed $35 million investment given to Joule after Podesta’s board appointment represented over 30 percent of Joule’s outside financing.

There’s also this inconvenient fact: In 2016, Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, where Joule board member Reuben Vardanyan formerly served as head of its investment banking division, had a $170,000 lobbying contract with the Podesta Group — which is owned by John Podesta’s brother, Tony Podesta.

In short, Clinton’s top campaign chief and a senior counselor to Obama sat on Joule’s board alongside top Russian officials as Putin’s Kremlin-backed investment fund funneled $35 million into Joule. No one looking at the Podesta fact pattern can claim to care about rooting out Russian collusion and not rigorously investigate the tangle of relationships.

Are US officials investigating the matter? We don’t know. When Bartiromo asked Podesta whether his closed-door session in front of the House Intelligence Committee included questions about his Russian ties and Joule, Podesta punted: “I have already told you that I was asked not to talk about specific questions, and I said I would respect that.”

After the slippery answers Podesta delivered during his explosive Fox Business interview, US officials have more reasons than ever to demand answers about John Podesta, Joule Unlimited and Putin’s Rusnano investment fund. If they weren’t investigating Podesta before, they should be now.

Source: New York Post

 

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