Justice Department officials have been questioning FBI agents involved with the criminal investigation surrounding the controversial sale of U.S. uranium mines involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to a report by NBC News.
The questions appear to be in response to two letters sent by the House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and other members requesting a special counsel to investigate the sale of the Uranium One, and whether or not donations to the Clinton Foundation influenced the Obama administration's decision to approve the deal.
If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. Buckle up, folks, this one's a doozy.
What the heck is Uranium One?
Uranium One is a Canadian uranium mining company which owns some U.S. uranium assets. It was fully acquired by Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom in 2013 through its ARMZ Uranium Holding subsidiary for $1.3 billion after the Obama administration signed off on the deal in 2010. The deal put Rosatom in control of approximately 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. That said, the subsidiaries of Rosatom are prohibited from exporting uranium outside the U.S. per their licenses issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Uranium is used to make nuclear weapons, therefore it is considered a strategic national security asset. Any foreign transaction involving these kinds of resources has to go through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for approval, an organization which includes the State Department, which was headed by former Secretary Hillary Clinton when the deal was being reviewed. That same year, the FBI had obtained a significant amount of evidence to prove Rosatom-affiliated officials were engaged in a massive bribery scheme and money laundering, according to a previous report by Circa. Those officials claimed the investigation might have prevented the sale from occurring, but indictments didn't follow until 2014... well after the sale had been approved.
How the Clintons are involved
As Rosatom was acquiring shares in Uranium One from 2009 to 2013, the company's chairman made donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the New York Times. Several others with ties to the company also made donations. These donations were legal, but not disclosed despite an agreement with the White House to disclose all contributors.
Another point of contention surrounds a $500,000 payment former President Bill Clinton received from Renaissance Capital, a Russian bank, for his speech in Moscow in June 2010, around the time the deal was being reviewed. Renaissance Capital analysts had promoted Uranium One's stock in July 2010, saying it was "the best play" in the uranium market.
There is no evidence that Bill Clinton had any connection to the sign-off of the Uranium One purchase, while Secretary Clinton has denied any direct involvement in the decision.
The orders to begin questioning the FBI agents involved the Uranium One investigation reportedly came from Attorney General Jeff Sessions himself. Trump and several other Republicans have been calling for an investigation into the deal for months, but the questions so far do not appear do not appear to be part of a full investigation.