US justice department considers special counsel to probe ClintonHeat Profit
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The US Department of Justice is considering appointing a special counsel to Investigate alleged links between the Clinton Foundation and the sale of a uranium company to Russia, in what Donald Trump’s critics have attacked as a politicised move.
The justice department has asked federal prosecutors to evaluate requests by Republicans in Congress to look into the Obama administration’s 2010 sale of Uranium One, a company with uranium supplies in the US, “alleged unlawful dealings related to the Clinton Foundation” and “other matters”, including the FBI’s decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump’s former presidential rival, over the handling of her emails.
It disclosed its move, which comes after repeated calls by Mr Trump to probe such claims, in a letter sent on Monday to Robert Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives’ judiciary committee.
“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems,” Mr Trump said in a tweet this month.
The US president has also repeatedly criticised Jeff Sessions, his attorney-general.
“This is an abuse of power to go after political opponents,” said Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer during the presidency of George W Bush.
In a speech in September, Rod Rosenstein, Mr Session’s deputy, said it was a “fundamental precept” that “the Department of Justice does not choose sides because of the identity of a party”, adding: “If prosecutors bring charges that are motivated by an effort to make a political point . . . public confidence in the rule of law is jeopardised.”
Mr Trump is facing accusations that he is seeking to deflect attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election which has already seen three of his aides charged, including his former campaign director Paul Manafort.
The Obama-era sale of the Canadian uranium mining company to Rosatom, Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency, is already under Investigation by Republicans in Congress.
The deal was approved when Mrs Clinton was secretary of state. Although the claims have not been proven, some Republicans have alleged that Russian interests sought to donate to the Clinton Foundation — whose formal name is the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation — to persuade Mrs Clinton to support the deal.
The foundation says its goals include building “partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments . . . and to transform lives and communities”. It says its achievements include helping almost 35,000 American schools provide children with healthy food choices to combat obesity, and helping train more than 150,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania. But the foundation has also long faced criticism over its ties to other countries’ governments. Emails released by WikiLeaks last year revealed an overlap between the foundation, Mrs Clinton’s work as secretary of state and former President Bill Clinton’s for-profit speechmaking
In Monday’s letter, assistant attorney-general Stephen Boyd said senior prosecutors would make recommendations to the attorney-general and his deputy on whether “any matters not currently under Investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under Investigation require further resources, or whether any merit the appointment of a special counsel”.
Mr Goodlatte had earlier written to the attorney-general asking for the appointment of another special counsel to consider “matters that appear outside the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation”.
Mr Boyd’s letter says: “The Department of Justice . . . takes seriously its responsibility to provide timely and accurate information to Congress on issues of public interest, and seeks to do so in a non-political manner that is consistent with the Department’s litigation, law enforcement, and national security responsibilities.”
Mr Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Russian Investigation because of contacts he had with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. During his Senate confirmation hearing this year, he said he would not name a special prosecutor to Investigate Mrs Clinton even if ordered to do so by the president.
“This country does not punish its political enemies,” he told the Senate judiciary committee.