Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed Justice Department prosecutors to ask FBI agents about a past criminal investigation into a business transaction that put 20 per cent of America’s uranium mining capacity in the hands of the Russian government.
Renewed interest in what has become known as the Uranium One deal threatens to embroil Bill and Hillary Clinton, whose personal fortunes and family foundation were enriched by people tied to the transaction.
An assistant attorney general told Congress in November that the DOJ would consider whether appointing a new special counsel was warranted in the case.
President Trump has sought to use the episode to deflect attention from his own Russia-related woes, calling his former election opponent’s mini-scandal ‘Watergate, modern age.’
He challenged reporters in October to ‘cover the uranium scandal’ and said: ‘That’s your real Russia story, not a story where they talk about collusion, and there was none. It was a hoax.’
‘The big story,’ he said in the Oval Office, ‘is uranium and how Russia got 20 percent of our uranium. And, frankly, it’s a disgrace.’
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 criticism complaints about an undue political influence on a department that is meant to function outside of any partisan sway or demand.
But the White House has insisted that Trump is keeping his hands off.
‘The president hasn’t directed any investigation or the appointment of a special counsel,’ press secretary Sarah Sanders said in November.