Graphic by GAI
In a world where journalism was about breaking news and not preserving the information vaccum, the da-da-esque "Russian hacking" mantra would be a joke around any newsroom -- not received and hallowed orthodoxy to the exclusion of any possibly emerging facts, testimonies, logic, historical context, or even conjecture that might cause a sentient being to doubt it.
In such a healthier world, where journalism was about exposing tyrants, crooks and conspiracies, the toxic tangle of overlapping links and financial connections between John Podesta, the Center for American Progress (the think tank he led), and Russian state piggy banks would not remain for months near-exclusive to investigative journalist Peter Schweizer.
The following excerpt come from Schweizer's monograph, "From Russia with Money," which contains so much information and so many leads that it has to be studied in sections and more than once.
The excerpt focuses on John Podesta in a discussion that seems particularly a propos as Podesta labors to reinvent himself as the meanest, toughest, most absurd Russia hawk around.
Things were quite different, about five minutes ago.
From "From Russia with Money" by Peter Schweizer --
"The Flow of Rusnano Money"
Few Washington officials are tighter to the Clintons than John Podesta. As The New Republic puts it, John Podesta is “extremely close,” to Hillary Clinton.81
Indeed, it was John Podesta (among others) who advanced the idea to Obama of appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, according to New York Times correspondent Mark Landler.82
During the Bill Clinton Administration, Podesta served as White House Chief of Staff.
Beginning in 2003, Podesta served as the President of the Center for America Progress (CAP), which has been described as an “administration-in-waiting” for the Democratic Party.83 Podesta later became Counselor to President Barack Obama in the White House.84
More recently, in January, 2015, Podesta became the campaign chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the 2016 presidential bid.85 During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, he was in regular contact with her and played an important role in shaping U.S. policy. For one thing, he sat on the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, appointed by Hillary. (The board was established in December 2011.)86
In June and July 2011, during the time period that he was advising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, John Podesta joined the board of three related entities: Joule Unlimited, a small Massachusetts-based energy company; its holding company, Joule Global Holdings, N.V., which was based in the Netherlands; and Joule Global Stichting, which appears to be the ultimate controlling entity.93
According to corporate records, Podesta served on the “executive board.” Joule was a new company, founded in 2007, and claimed to pioneer a technology they called “Liquid Fuel from the Sun,” a technology based on harnessing solar energy.94
Podesta consulted for a foundation run by one of the investors in Joule Energy, Hans-Jorg Wyss, a major Clinton Foundation donor.95
The Wyss Charitable Foundation has given between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.96 Podesta was paid $87,000 by the Wyss Foundation in 2013, according to federal tax records.97 Podesta’s compensation by Joule cannot be fully determined. In his 2014 federal government disclosure filing, Podesta lists that he divested stock options from Joule. However, the disclosure does not cover the years 2011-2012.
Although John Podesta is listed on the corporate records, he failed to disclose his membership on the board of Joule Stichting in his federal financial disclosure forms when he joined the Obama White House as a senior advisor.100
After Schweizer's report appeared, Wikileaks published emails revealing that John Podesta also held 75,000 shares in Joule common stock
Now things get interesting.
Podesta was not the only board member on Joule with strong Clinton ties. Also on the board was Graham Allison, a Harvard academic who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for President Bill Clinton.102
Two months after Podesta joined the board, Vladimir Putin’s Rusnano announced that it would invest up to one billion rubles into Joule Unlimited, which amounts to $35 million.103
That represents one fifth of the entire amount of investment dollars Joule collected from 2007 to 2013.104 As we’ve seen, it is hard to underestimate how close Rusnano is to the political-military elite in Russia. Indeed, in February 2012, Anatoly Chubais, the Chairman of Rusnano, joined the Joule board of directors.105
According to some reports, the Rusnano investment in Joule was in part money to build a research center in Russia.106
John Podesta recounted in 2014 the first time he met with Vladimir Putin. It was in 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton was visiting Moscow. Podesta joined Clinton for an evening with the new Prime Minister of Russia. As Podesta put it, “We saw Putin and then we had the evening free. We went to the Café Pushkin in Moscow, and as is habit in Moscow, we started drinking vodka shots….I don’t know how I managed to get out of bed [the next morning]. I wouldn’t even describe myself as hungover; alcohol was still pouring out of my pores.”107
Podesta and Putin -- drinking buddies!
The billion ruble investment in Joule energy was a large part of Joule’s funds raised at the time. In 2012 they raised another $70 million, for a total of about $110 million.108
Joule is a controversial company.
As the industry publication E and E put it, the company has made “grandiose claims” about its ability to generate energy from photosynthetic bugs. Indeed, the company seemed to be in on the joke, decorating its office with models of winged pigs, as in “when pigs fly.” The company’s competitors and scientific peers claimed that the “company remains vague in backing up its claims, even in its patent applications.”109 And indeed, as of this writing in 2016, the company has not announced that it has moved beyond the research and development phase.
However, Joule claimed that it would “go commercial in 2017.”110 As we will see, the FBI sent a letter to Boston-area companies and MIT in 2014 raising concerns about Russian-backed investment in U.S. high tech start-ups. Joule declined to comment on the letter.111
Now Podesta bashes the FBI for failing to warn the DNC more emphatically about "Russian hacking."
But the flow of funds from Russia during the “reset” to Podesta-connected entities apparently didn’t end with Joule Energy.
Enter Center for American Progress.
Beginning in 2003, John Podesta took the helm at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank in Washington D.C. During the Bush Administration, the organization was regarded somewhat as an “administration-in-waiting” because of its close contact with the Clintons.112
Podesta left CAP in December 2013 to become a senior official in the Obama White House.113
In July 2009, CAP released a 68-page study advocating for closer relations with the Russian government.114 The piece called for “deepening economic ties,” with Russia and argued that U.S. economic interest would be furthered “through increased trade ties and an improved investment climate.” The monograph, which was scholarly in appearance, argued that critics who favored a “tough” approach with Russia were “producing outcomes that are not in the national interest of the United States.”115
My, how things have changed -- in synchronism!
CAP became an early and persistent cheerleader for the reset. CAP Russia analyst Samuel Charap boasted, “There have been concrete achievements for U.S. national security from this policy, which didn’t give away anything in order to get them.”116 Those who opposed the reset on national security grounds were criticized as engaging in “reset-bashing,” which was based on analysis that “is deeply misleading,” he said. Critics were “blinded by their rage that they simply refuse to acknowledge its successes and have conveniently forgotten how disastrous the alternative—an antagonistic U.S.-Russia relationship—is for U.S. national interests and Russia’s own development.”117
In 2011, Charap left CAP and joined the State Department as an advisor to the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.118 CAP support for the Russian reset occurred as the organization was apparently taking in funds from Russian-connected entities.
Now, pay attention:
From 2010 to 2013, CAP took in $5.25 million from the Sea Change Foundation.119
Who was funding Sea Change Foundation? According to tax records, Sea Change Foundation at the time was receiving a large infusion of funds from a mysterious Bermuda-based entity called “Klein, Ltd.” It is interesting to note that prior to receiving funds from Klein, Ltd., Sea Change apparently had never contributed to the CAP before, according to federal tax filings.
Who owns Klein? It is impossible to say exactly, given corporate secrecy laws in Bermuda. But the registered agent and lawyers who set up the offshore entity are tied to a handful of Russian business entities including Troika Dialog, Marcuard Spectrum, and Firebird New Russia Fund.
Curiously, Troika Dialog, Ltd. leadership includes Ruben Vardanyan, an ethnic Armenian who is a mega oligarch in Putin’s Russia.
Vardanyan also served on the board of Joule Energy with John Podesta.
Not to mention Rusnano's Anatoly Chubais.
CAP <- Sea Change <- Klein <- Troika Dialog <- Ruben Vardanyan <- Joule!
And Firebird New Russia Fund is owned by Firebird Management, which is a co-owner of a Russian Joint Stock Company called Pharmsynthez. Their partner in Pharmsynthez is Rusnano, which is, of course, the investment fund invested in Joule.
CAP <- Sea Change <- Klein <- Firebird New Russia Fund <- Firebird Management -> Phramsynthez - Rusnano -> Joule!
It doesn't stop there.
Sea Change Foundation received $23 million from Klein, Ltd., according to tax records. Klein is a Bermudan company.120 Its charter states that charitable work is its sole purpose.121 The officers listed on Klein’s founding documents are Nicholas J. Hoskins and Marlies A. Smith.122 Hoskins is a partner and Smith is a legal secretary at the upscale and scandal-laden Bermudan law firm Wakefield Quin (WQ).123
OK, so the officers of Klein are a partner and legal secretary at the "upscale and scandal-laden" Wakefield Quinn (WQ).
WQ and its attorneys enjoy longstanding, and in some cases notorious, relationships with high-level Russian political and business “oligarchs.”
Reports in 2014 and 2015, from the media and on Capitol Hill, raised the issue of WQ’s deep ties to Russian oil and gas.
It has been argued that the money Klein provided to Sea Change Foundation ultimately funded environmental activism opposed to American fracking and natural gas exports. (Halting or reducing U.S. fracking and reducing gas exports would cut global production and thereby raise prices for the benefit of the Russian investor.)
WQ and its attorneys protested the reporting as mere conspiracy theory and pointed out that no Bermudan laws were broken. However, they refused to clarify whether the money Klein provided to Sea Change Foundation originated with WQ’s high-level Russian clients or somewhere else.
Then strong statements in 2014 and 2015 by both then-NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen124 and former NATOCommanding General Wesley Clarke,125 without naming Klein, directly affirmed that Russian money funded opposition to domestic fracking in the West. Clark went so far as to point the finger at Vladimir Putin directly.126 ...
Definitiely, we need to investigate the pernicious web of Russian influence -- and money -- inside the American system!