- The House Intelligence Committee has launched a probe into why the FBI did not inform Congress of its concerns over a uranium deal struck between the US and Russia while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
- The probe was announced by the committee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, who stepped down from the investigation into Russia’s election interference over concerns about his ties to the White House.
- Trump has taken a keen interest in the Uranium One deal, tweeting last week that the “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”
The embattled chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced on Tuesday that he has opened an investigation into a deal struck between the US and a predominantly Russia-owned uranium company based in Canada, Uranium One, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Devin Nunes’ announcement came one week after The Hill
published a report on a “racketeering scheme … designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favourable decision to Moscow.”
The New York Times reported in 2015 that “as the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation.” The Times’ reporting built off of “Clinton Cash,” a book by conservative author Peter Schweizer that the Clintons dismissed as partisan conspiracy-mongering.
The Hill’s report largely echoed those claims, alleging that Russian officials tried to “ingratiate themselves with the Clintons” by transferring “millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation.”
The Hill further alleged that the FBI had found evidence that the Russian official who oversaw Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “nuclear expansion inside the US” had been engaging in bribery and extortion.
Nunes said on Tuesday that he wants to know “whether or not there was an FBI investigation, whether or not there was a DOJ investigation, and if so, why Congress was not informed of this matter.”
Asked whether it was appropriate for him to be investigating Russia-related matters after his recusal in April due to ethics concerns over his ties to the White House, Nunes asked reporters to re-read his statement and “stop referring” to his recusal.
He added that the committee has been looking into the matter and meeting with “informants” for several months, and that the White House has not been involved.
But President Donald Trump took an immediate interest in the story after The Hill published its report, tweeting on Thursday that the “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”
The Hill’s report — which was immediately picked up by conservative media outlets and characterised as “the REAL Russia collusion story” — also piqued the interest of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley.
The Iowa Republican sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Wednesday asking whether the Department of Justice was investigating the fact that former President Bill Clinton was paid for a speech around the time that the US government approved the Uranium One deal, and that Russians donated millions to the Clinton Foundation years before the uranium deal.
“This fact pattern raises serious concerns about improper political influence on the process by the Clintons during the Obama administration,” Grassley said.
Trump used the uranium deal to try to undercut Clinton during the campaign and draw scrutiny away from his own potential Russia ties. He claimed in October 2016 that Clinton gave uranium to Russia “for a big payment,” which the Washington Post later said was inaccurate.
Fact checkers more broadly have been quick to push back on characterizations of the uranium deal as a quid-pro-quo between Clinton and Russia, and PolitiFact found that the US produces such little uranium that the “concerns were out of proportion.”
The Washington Post’s fact checker reported last year that although the State Department was one of several agencies that would have been able to approve the 2010 deal, “there is no evidence Clinton herself got involved in the deal personally, and it is highly questionable that this deal even rose to the level of the secretary of state.”
“Theoretically, as [“Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer] says, Clinton could have intervened,” the Post reported. “But even then, it ultimately would have been Obama’s decision whether to suspend or block the deal.”
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