Sessions Open to Idea of Clinton Foundation Special Counsel
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is leaving open the possibility that a special counsel could be appointed to look into Clinton Foundation dealings and a uranium deal during the Obama administration.
Nov 13, 2017 By ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is leaving open the possibility that a special counsel could be appointed to look into Clinton Foundation dealings and an Obama-era uranium deal, the Justice Department said Monday in responding to concerns from Republican lawmakers.
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding an oversight hearing Tuesday, the Justice Department said Sessions had directed senior federal prosecutors to “evaluate certain issues” raised by Republican lawmakers. President Donald Trump has also repeatedly called for investigations of Democrats.
The prosecutors will report to Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and recommend whether any new investigations should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require additional resources and whether it might be necessary to appoint a special counsel to oversee a probe, according to a letter sent to Rep. Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, the Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd did not say what specific steps might be taken by the Justice Department to address the lawmakers’ concerns, or whether any of the matters Republicans have seized on might already be under investigation by federal authority.
Any appointment of a new special counsel, particularly in response to calls from members of Congress or from Trump himself, is likely to lead to Democratic complaints about an undue political influence on a department that is supposed to function outside of any partisan sway or demand.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly weighed in on department affairs, publicly lamenting that he does not have more direct involvement in its operations and calling on law enforcement scrutiny of Democrat Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential race, and other Democrats.
He has expressed particular support for investigating the Clinton Foundation and at times has berated his attorney general and suggested his job could be in jeopardy.
“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems…” Trump tweeted earlier this month.
In apparent anticipation of those concerns, Boyd said in the letter that Justice Department “will never evaluate any matter except on the facts and the law.”
“Professionalism, integrity and public confidence in the Department’s work is critical for us, and no priority is higher,” he added.
Sessions said at his January confirmation hearing that he would recuse himself from any investigations involving Clinton given his role as a vocal campaign surrogate to President Donald Trump.
He similarly recused himself from a separate investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, and in May, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead that probe.
House Republicans in recent weeks have launched their own probes into the Obama administration and Clinton’s emails.
Some lawmakers have specifically said they want to know more about whether President Barack Obama’s Justice Department had been investigating the purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company in 2010.
The agreement was reached while Clinton led the State Department and some investors in the company had relationships with former President Bill Clinton and donated large sums to the Clinton Foundation.
The letter comes one day before Sessions is to appear before the Judiciary panel for a Justice Department oversight hearing. Democrats on the committee have already signaled that they intend to press Sessions on his knowledge of contacts between Russians and aides to the Trump campaign.
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Congressional referrals sparked DOJ investigations like Uranium One and Clinton Foundation
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has confirmed it has received multiple congressional referrals for investigations over the past year regarding the sale of twenty percent of the American uranium supply to Russia’s nuclear arm, as well as calls for investigations into allegations of pay-for-play regarding the Clinton Foundation, Circa has learned.
Multiple sources, including congressional officials, tell Circa that the requests sent to the Department of Justice over the past year have led to ongoing investigations, which they say also include investigations into the alleged leaking of classified information to the media and the improper unmasking of Americans.
DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told Circa, “the department takes seriously all allegations from Congress of criminal conduct in determining whether to open an investigation.” She said, “requests to open an investigation would be referred to the appropriate investigative agency, such as the FBI, for review.”
Isgur Flores said, “all allegations are reviewed in light of the principles of federal prosecution. And while some may find it frustrating at times, the Department has a policy against confirming or denying the existence of investigations in order to maintain the integrity of the process until and if charges are filed.”
FBI officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Former FBI Director James Comey was fired early this year, in part for publicly discussing ongoing investigations related to the Clinton email investigations. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein noted in his letter regarding the FBI director’s firing that Comey’s derogatory statements about the investigation are a “textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”
Several DOJ officials told Circa, in order preserve the integrity of the investigations, they are rarely discussed publicly.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, where committee members are expected to ask about the status of any investigations based on the congressional referrals the DOJ has received. Sessions is expected to testify on an array of matters, including questions on a former Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russians. Democratic lawmakers said they want to know why Sessions said he was “not aware of any of those” contacts between Russian officials and Papadopoulos, as first reported by Reuters.
According to Congressional sources, Sessions, however, is also expected to come under questioning from many of his former colleagues in the committee regarding other Russia connected investigations stemming back to the Obama and Clinton administrations.
If the current Department of Justice does not investigate the abuses, then self-government as it was once known is gone
Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, said he was not surprised to see that the investigation into the sale of American uranium during the Obama administration was added to the list of investigations underway at the Department of Justice.
“This country has seen the most powerful and intrusive parts of the mammoth federal government misused and abused as a virtual, political racketeer influenced and corrupt organization,” Gohmert told Circa. “If the current Department of Justice does not investigate the abuses, then self-government as it was once known is gone. We’re finally getting glimpses of the investigations they’ve been doing.”
Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., along with other members, have openly expressed their frustration that the Justice Department may not be doing enough regarding investigations into possible misconduct. In the House Judiciary Committee hearings on Tuesday, the committee is expected to ask questions regarding Russia’s acquisition in 2010 of the Canadian mining company Uranium One and the then FBI investigation of money laundering and racketeering by employees of the Russian subsidiaries connected to that purchase, according to congressional sources that spoke with Circa.
Committee members are also expected to address issues regarding then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the uranium sale, which includes allegations that the Clinton Foundation and then Clinton Global Initiative may have accepted graft money, according to the sources.
Another area of contention expected to be brought up in the hearing is “the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Clinton’s private email server and we want some answers on that as well,” said a Republican congressional aide, who spoke on background as they were not authorized to speak to the media on the matter.
A congressional source with the House Intelligence Committee, which has launched a probe into allegations that Americans, particularly members of the Trump campaign were improperly unmasked, told Circa “after all these months of investigations, there is still no evidence of Trump officials colluding with Russian hacking in the election.”
“But there sure are a lot of problems about the Democrats’ Russia connections,” said the congressional source, who was referencing recent allegations that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign paid the controversial research firm Fusion GPS for the unverified dossier on President Trump. “Their whole Russia collusion enterprise is starting to boomerang back on them.”
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