Clin­ton Foun­da­tion probe re­quested

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

THE US Jus­tice Depart­ment says it has asked prose­cu­tors to ex­am­ine al­leged mis­con­duct at the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and the con­tro­ver­sial Oba­maera sale of a ura­nium firm to Rus­sia, and whether a special coun­sel might be needed to in­ves­ti­gate.

The move, dis­closed in a let­ter to law­mak­ers, came as At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions was poised to tes­tify yes­ter­day about elec­tion year con­tacts be­tween mem­bers of the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia.

As the for­mer head of the Trump cam­paign’s for­eign pol­icy ad­vi­sory team, Ses­sions can ex­pect a tough grilling from Democrats about what he knew about the con­tacts.

Ses­sions has pre­vi­ously tes­ti­fied un­der oath that he had no knowl­edge of any col­lu­sion with the Rus­sians, but a probe by special coun­sel Robert Mueller has un­cov­ered con­tacts by lower level cam­paign ad­vis­ers.

As the Rus­sia elec­tion med­dling probe has heated up, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as well as Repub­li­can law­mak­ers have called for a probe into Hil­lary Clin­ton and the sale of a ura­nium com­pany to Rus­sia un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

On Mon­day, the Jus­tice Depart­ment re­sponded to Repub­li­can de­mands in a let­ter to House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Good­latte, who also was to pre­side over yes­ter­day’s hear­ing with Ses­sions.

Ses­sions, it said, has di­rected se­nior fed­eral prose­cu­tors to eval­u­ate Good­latte’s re­quest for a special coun­sel to in­ves­ti­gate the ura­nium sale and “al­leged un­law­ful deal­ings re­lated to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and other mat­ters”.

The prose­cu­tors “will make rec­om­men­da­tions as to whether any mat­ters not cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be opened, whether any mat­ters cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­quire fur­ther re­sources, and whether any mat­ters merit the ap­point­ment of a Special Coun­sel”, it said.

The let­ter, first ob­tained by broad­caster NBC News, was signed by As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Stephen Boyd.

Ura­nium deal

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers in late Oc­to­ber an­nounced they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the 2013 sale of Cana­dian min­ing com­pany Ura­nium One to Rus­sian sta­te­owned com­pany Rosatom, which was ap­proved by for­mer Obama.

The move gave Rosatom con­trol of 20 per­cent of US ura­nium stock­piles, and was de­cided af­ter Ura­nium One made sev­eral do­na­tions to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion of for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

They are also de­mand­ing more clar­ity on how the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice de­cided dur­ing the height of last year’s White House race to not pur­sue charges against Clin­ton over her mis­use of a per­sonal email server.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment let­ter said the han­dling of the Clin­ton email case was un­der re­view by the depart­ment’s in­spec- tor gen­eral, and an as­sess­ment would be made of what steps should be taken, if any, once it is com­pleted.

Del­i­cate ground

Ses­sions will be tread­ing on del­i­cate ground in his tes­ti­mony on con­tacts be­tween Trump cam­paign aides and Krem­lin­linked Rus­sians dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

On the one hand, Trump has crit­i­cised Ses­sions as “weak” for re­cus­ing him­self from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Democrats, on the other, want to know if he knew about ac­tiv­i­ties un­earthed in Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, a cam­paign for­eign pol­icy ad­vi­sor, told prose­cu­tors he sought to ar­range a trip by then-can­di­date Trump to Rus­sia and told the cam­paign he was of­fered “dirt” on Demo­cratic can­di­date Clin­ton by Rus­sian con­tacts.

Mueller re­leased emails in court fil­ings that in­di­cate Pa­padopou­los’s ef­fort drew the at­ten­tion and sup­port of top cam­paign of­fi­cials.

In ad­di­tion, re­cently re­vealed emails showed that Carter Page, an­other cam­paign for­eign pol­icy ad­viser, also sought to ar­range a Trump trip to Moscow and in­di­cated to top cam­paign of­fi­cials that he had con­tacts with Rus­sian leg­is­la­tors and se­nior mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ses­sions has down­played their im­por­tance as well as his own role ever since his Jan­uary 10 con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing as at­tor­ney gen­eral. Asked about al­le­ga­tions of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and ex­changes be­tween the cam­paign and Rus­sians, he said at the time, “I’m not aware of any of those ac­tiv­i­ties.”

In an­other hear­ing on June 13, Ses­sions said: “I have never met with or had any con­ver­sa­tion with any Rus­sians or any for­eign of­fi­cials con­cern­ing any type of in­ter­fer­ence with any cam­paign or elec­tion in the United States. Fur­ther, I have no knowl­edge of any such con­ver­sa­tions by any­one con­nected to the Trump cam­paign.”

And he again de­nied any knowl­edge of such con­tacts in an Oc­to­ber 18 hear­ing.

“I did not, and I’m not aware of any­one else that did, and I don’t be­lieve it hap­pened.”


For­mer US Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks on­stage at the Ms Foun­da­tion for Women 2017 Glo­ria Awards Gala & Af­ter Party at Cap­i­tale on May 3 in New York City.

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