Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a “reset” button in 2009 to symbolize the Obama administration’s desire to open a new chapter in Russian-American relations despite awareness among administration officials that Russians were illegally interfering in the American nuclear industry.
“We want to reset our relationship, so we will do it together,” Clinton said before handing over the button.
Unbeknownst to Clinton, the button actually had the word “overcharged” printed on it. This amusing bit of history has taken on a new air of irony in the wake of reports that the Obama administration was aware at the time that Russia was extorting American companies and using kickbacks, money laundering and bribery to increase their access to American uranium.
Clinton’s presentation of the “reset” button came months before the Obama administration entered into the “Uranium One” agreement, in which the State Department approved the sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to state owned Russian nuclear giant Rosatom. The deal provided a windfall to the Russian economy, and by extension Putin and his ruling class, by allowing them access to one fifth of all U.S. uranium.
The Obama Department of Justice became aware that Russia was engaging in kickbacks, extortion and bribery all aimed at increasing “Vladimir Putin’s atomic-energy business inside the United States” in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act but never informed members of Congress, according to The Hill.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns,” one veteran of the case told The Hill.
This occurred around the same time that the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars from Russian nuclear officials through cut outs. Clinton, who sat on the body that had to approve the “Uranium One” deal, cast the payments as merely coincidental when confronted during the campaign.
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