WASHINGTON — A review of the Justice Department’s mishandling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the Uranium One has been underway since 2017, according to an unearthed letter obtained by a Freedom of Information Act Request.
During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton gave Russia control of over more than 20 percent of America’s supply of uranium to the Canadian oil company Uranium, which is owned by the Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom.
After the deal, millions of dollars in cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. In total, nine individuals connected to Uranium One sent a combined $145 million to the Clinton Foundation over this time period between 2009 and 2013.
During the same time, former president Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a speech in Moscow, three times the normal amount in speaking fees. The speech was paid for by a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin as it promoted Uranium One stock.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton’s quid quo pro involvement in Uranium One and the Department of Justice has yet to bring any charges related to Rosatom or the Clinton Foundation.
However, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed a review of how the Justice Department handled the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One issues, according to a letter obtained by the liberal nonprofit American Oversight through a FOIA request.
Sessions wrote a letter on Nov. 22, 2017 for Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber directing that the DOJ revisit probes of Clinton and scrutinize the sale of the American Uranium to Rosatom.
NEW: Jeff Sessions caved to Trump's authoritarian demands. We obtained the signed directive from Sessions to a federal prosecutor ordering a wide-ranging investigation of Hillary Clinton. https://t.co/whiwbVudOm pic.twitter.com/1KGGrMIunG
— American Oversight (@weareoversight) March 9, 2019
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who was Session’s then-chief of staff, emailed the letter to Huber and sent a copy of the letter to the Justice Department’s Congressional affairs chief. He also sent the letter to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 13 of that year.
Last year, a Justice Department lawyer said in court that senior officials insisted the letter directing the review of Uranium One did not exist. Senior Counsel in the Office of Information Policy Vanessa Brinkman, who oversee’ s the department’s FOIA requests, said on Nov. 16, 2017 that a lawyer in Session’s office told her no such letter directing oversight of Clinton’s Uranium One involvement.
In a declaration filed in federal court, Brinkmann said the Justice Department’s lawyer told her “when the Attorney General directed Mr. Huber to evaluate these matters, no written guidance or directives were issued to Mr. Huber in connection with this directive, either by the Attorney General, or by the leadership office staff.”
American Oversight demanded documentation of how Sessions instructed Huber to review investigations surrounding Clinton, but the DOJ didn’t comply. As a result, American Oversight sued and was provided the document that spearheaded Huber’s review of Clinton.
Republicans lawmakers have repeatedly called for the appointment of a special counsel to examine to investigate Clinton and role in the Uranium One sale.
Democrats, left-leaning publications and American Oversight argue Sessions instructing a review of Uranium One and Clinton is proof the “authoritarian” Trump administration is weaponizing law enforcement to target its political opponents.
“‘Lock her up’ was wrong at campaign rallies, and it’s even worse coming from the Department of Justice,” American Oversight chairman told Daily Beast, which first obtained Session’s letter. “Even after this long, it’s still deeply shocking to see the black and white proof that Jeff Sessions caved to President Trump’s worst authoritarian impulses and ordered a wide-ranging investigation of his political opponent based on demands from Congress instead of the facts and the law.”
“It strains credulity to believe that the Justice Department didn’t know about this letter when they swore under penalty of perjury that it didn’t exist–you don’t exactly forget about a formal directive to investigate Hillary Clinton signed by Jeff Sessions,” he added.
You don't exactly "forget" about a signed directive to investigate Hillary Clinton. We’re concerned that DOJ's previous denial of this letter's existence looks a lot like a deliberate attempt to conceal how far they went to implement President Trump's authoritarian demands. pic.twitter.com/uwvmzPqCdt
— American Oversight (@weareoversight) March 9, 2019
Hillary Clinton insists the threat of a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One deal is a distraction, claiming “it is nothing but a false charge that the Trump administration is trying to drum up in order to avoid tension being directed at them.”
“Taking myself out of it, this is such an abuse of power and it goes right at the rule of law,” Clinton told Mother Jones. “As secretary of state, I went around the world bragging about America’s rule of law. … If they send a signal that we are going to be like some dictatorship, some authoritarian regime where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract that we have that we can trust our justice system.”
The scope of Huber’s mandate has not yet been publicly disclosed.
Newly sworn-in Attorney General William Barr has said that he believes there was more basis to investigate failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her alleged role in the Uranium One agreement than President Donald Trump’s purported collusion with the Russian government in the 2016 election.
Barr is not following Sessions’ lead and recusing himself from overseeing the DOJ’s long-running Russia investigation.