U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly ordered his prosecutors to interview FBI agents about their investigation into the controversial sale of Uranium One during the Obama administration.
Conservative lawmakers have asserted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had financially benefited from the uranium sale, while Democrats have fired back that the Department of Justice (DOJ) interest in the matter is only meant to deflect from scandals within the Trump administration.
On Dec. 21, several law enforcement officials disclosed that DOJ prosecutors had asked the FBI to explain the evidence they had gathered during their now-dormant investigation into the Uranium One sale. No charges were filed in the probe, NBC News reports.
The House Judiciary Committee Chairman, GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, had repeatedly requested that Sessions appoint a special counsel to investigate the FBI and Clinton's philanthropic Clinton Foundation, according to The Washington Post.
On Nov. 13, it was disclosed that Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd had written to Goodlatte that the DOJ would direct "senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters."
Boyd added that Sessions would evaluate "whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel."
In June 2010, the Obama administration's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) approved the sale of the Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom. The sale was controversial because the mining company had contracts for 20 percent of the U.S. uranium production capacity at the time.
During the 2016 presidential race, current President Donald Trump repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of approving the Uranium One sale in exchange for financial contributions. Several people associated with the sale had contributed money to the Clinton Foundation, but it has not been proven that this had any impact on the CFIUS decision.
On Oct. 19, Trump tweeted out: "Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!"
The Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checker PolitiFact ruled the accusation that Hillary Clinton had given U.S. uranium capacity to Russia for financial gain mostly false. She headed the State Department at the time but was only one of nine agencies that weighed in on the matter. The only person who reportedly had any power to veto the Uranium One sale was former President Barack Obama.
Former White House lawyer Stewart Baker of the Bush administration said that it was possible that Hillary Clinton had never even been asked about the Uranium One deal.
"Is it possible that the Russians thought they needed to do this and that it would help them?" Baker said of donations to the Clinton Foundation. "Yeah, but that doesn't mean that it actually did."
Baker added in an another interview that the Uranium One sale was not controversial at the time.
GOP lawmakers have described the Uranium One deal as a grave national security concern. Democrats have asserted that the sale was being used to distract Americans from investigations into Trump's associates.
"At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits," said Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill. "This latest iteration is simply more of the right doing Trump's bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security."