The Justice Department stated yesterday that it was investigating whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton and other political rivals the president has singled out.
DOJ, in a letter that was sent to the House Judiciary Committee, stated that prosecutors would look into allegations that donations to the Clinton Foundation were related to a 2010 decision from the Obama administration to allow a nuclear department in Russia to purchase Uranium One. This was a company that owned large percentages of access to uranium in the US.
The letter appeared to be a response to Trump’s statement in early November when he stated that he was disappointed with his attorney general Jeff Sessions, and that still unproven corruption allegations against the Clintons and the Obama administration should still be looked into.
Any investigation on these matters by DOJ would possibly raise questions about how independent federal investigations are under the current president. Since the Watergate scandal, the DOJ has mostly operated in an independent fashion on cases that had anything to do with the opponents of the president.
Trump’s statements led to headlines at more conservative new forums, such as Fox News and Breitbart News, which have been encouraging the administration to appoint a special counsel.
People who are close to the administration say there could be another matter in play: Sessions could be able to delay the president firing him by appointing special counsel to look into the uranium deal.
Trump Blames Sessions For Russia Inquiry
Trump has blamed Sessions for much of the cloud of the Russian investigation that has hung over his presidency. He has said if Sessions had not recused himself from the Russian inquiry in early 2017, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, would not have been appointed.
This week, Sessions is supposed to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee. There he is expected to be asked questions by Democrats and Republicans. The letter was an answer to formal requests from Republicans on the Hill for a DOJ investigation into various Clinton related matters.
Sessions has recused himself from everything that is related to the presidential election, but he and his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, are still overseeing the decision of the prosecutor to appoint the special counsel.
According to assistant attorney general Stephen Boyd, senior prosecutors will report direct to the attorney general and deputy attorney general. They will make recommendations whether any matters that are currently being investigated will require more time and money, and whether any matters do merit a special counsel.
Republicans have been trying for months to link Hillary Clinton to the Uranium One deal, which was revealed during her 2016 presidential campaign. The deal was green lighted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US when she was sec. Of state under Obama and had a vote on the panel.
Conservative news media have kept the Uranium One story alive and have been pushing allegations as part of the narrative that Clinton is a corrupt politician. They claim that Hillary Clinton was involved in a quid pro quo deal where the Clinton Foundation was the recipient of large money donations in exchange for supporting the uranium deal.
The special counsel investigation into the current president has gotten more intense in the last month. Trump has been asking allies and advisers why Mueller is not looking into the Uranium One deal, according to a source who is familiar with what the president has said on the matter.
His allies and advisers have told the president that Mueller’s job as special counsel is to just look into Russian interference with the election last year. Trump has protested that the Uranium One deal also is related to Russia.
Still, the White House in the last few weeks has been playing down questions about whether Trump or his close advisers were wanting a new special counsel. It was just before leaving on a 12 day trip in Asia this month that Trump made public comments about how DOJ had been operating under Sessions.
Trump said that he is not very involved with DOJ, but he noted that he thought they should be looking at Democrat corruption. Trump also said that ‘a lot of people’ are disappointed with the DOJ, including him.
Trump has taken heat since taking office for attempting to intervene in the DOJ’s investigations. In May, it was shown that Trump had asked James Comey, the former FBI director, to stop the investigation into Trump’s previous national security adviser. This was a disclosure that led him to appoint Mueller. Trump has criticized the Mueller investigation many times, which has gotten more intense in the last few months as three Trump campaign members were hit with federal charges, including money laundering.
In response to criticism and inquiries into his administration, Trump has been trying to turn to the attention to Clinton and her alleged corruption. But after he was elected last year, Trump had a very different tone about going after Clinton. He said that he wanted to move forward and not back, to hurt the Clintons.