Back in 2010, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, better known as CFIUS and chaired at the time by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, approved the sale of an obscure mining company, Uranium One, to Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear fuel company.  The deal gave the Russian government control over more than 20 percent of the uranium ore in the U.S. The details surrounding the case are growing into the biggest scandal you’ve never heard of.

Last week, John Solomon and Alison Spann, reporters for The Hill, a Washington newspaper primarily for and about Congress, uncovered new details about the bribery and corruption behind the deal. They paint a picture of intrigue worthy of any pulp fiction novel.

But if you weren’t paying close attention, you would have missed it.

 a case for draining the swamp

When President Trump talks about “draining the swamp,” the Uranium One deal is Exhibit A. You may have heard that at the time of the sale, President Bill Clinton gave a speech to Russian insider investment bank Renaissance Capital in Moscow, for which he was paid $500,000. You may have heard that around that time individuals and organizations tied to the Rosatom deal gave upwards of $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.

You may also have heard that Uranium One was owned in large part by Canadian billionaire and bona fide “Friend of Bill” Frank Giustra.

What you likely haven’t heard is the deeper bribery scandal and the sweetheart plea deals that came after.

Since 1992, a portion of the fuel for American nuclear power plants has come from decommissioned Russian nuclear warheads, part of a program called “Megatons to Megwatts.” The company responsible for arranging the sale and transfer of that fuel is Tenex, a subsidiary of Rosatom. Russian businessman Vadim Mikerin was already involved in a scheme to sell this uranium at inflated prices, keeping the difference for himself, when Tenex sent him to the U.S. to head its new American subsidiary, Tenam, and arrange the Uranium One deal.

Solomon and Spann, the two Hill reporters, uncovered that one of the people Mikerin tried to involve in the scheme was an unnamed American lobbyist, who took his concerns to the FBI. This lobbyist wore a wire, and with the permission of the FBI, facilitated kickback payments to Mikerin.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who was surely well aware of this activity, was a member of CFIUS when it approved the deal.

the swamp fights back

Despite the mountain of evidence, the FBI and Justice Department did nothing for years. Finally, in 2014, shortly before the five-year statute of limitations was up, and shortly after, as National Review’s Andrew McCarthy pointed out, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the government formally charged Mikerin. The indictment said he “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons … to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion.”

But rather than press what should have been an open-and-shut case, the government allowed Mikerin to arrange a plea bargain. As McCarthy wrote, “Mikerin was arrested on a complaint describing a racketeering scheme that stretched back to 2004 and included extortion, fraud, and money laundering. Yet he was permitted to plead guilty to a single count of money-laundering conspiracy.”

And here’s where the swamp gets deeper.

The U.S. Attorney responsible for the case, based in Maryland, was Rod Rosenstein, now the deputy attorney general, and since Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal, the man responsible for overseeing the government’s investigation into suspected collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The head of office on the Department of Justice that handles fraud cases, who was involved in the plea deal, was Andrew Weissmann, now part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel team investigating the Russian story. And Muller himself? He was running the FBI when all this went down.

When it comes to Russian electoral collusion, we keep hearing “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” In the Uranium One deal, the smoke is so thick it’s hard to see anything else.

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Tom McCuin is a strategic communication consultant and retired Army Reserve Civil Affairs and Public Affairs officer whose career includes serving with the Malaysian Battle Group in Bosnia, two tours in Afghanistan, and three years in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in the Pentagon. When he’s not devouring political news, he enjoys sailboat racing and umpiring Little League games (except the ones his son plays in) in Alexandria, Va. Follow him on Twitter at @tommccuin