Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is investigating the circumstances surrounding the purchase by a Russian firm of part of Uranium One, a company which controls uranium mines in the U.S.
Grassley questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the matter during a Senate hearing on Oct. 18.
"According to government documents and recent news reports, the Justice Department had an ongoing criminal investigation for bribery, extortion, money laundering, into officials for a Russian company making purchase of Uranium One," said Grassley, according to The Hill. "That purchase was approved during [the] previous administration and resulted in Russians owning 20 percent of America's uranium mining capacity."
"What are you doing to find out how Russian takeover of American uranium was allowed to occur despite criminal conduct by Russian company that the Obama administration approved to make the purchase?" added Grassley.
The Russian firm, Rosatom, made the purchase of Uranium One in 2010. The Hill reported that as early as 2009, the FBI had evidence of the use of bribes and kickbacks to expand the company's presence in the atomic energy sector.
"I would offer that some people have gone to jail in that transaction already, but the article talks about other issues," said Sessions. "Without confirming or denying existence of any particular investigation, I would say I hear your concerns and they will be reviewed."
The Obama administration argued that there were no outstanding national security issues when the deal was finalized.
"I am not convinced by these assurances," Grassley wrote in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security. "The sale of Uranium One resulted in a Russian government takeover of a significant portion of U.S. uranium mining capacity. In light of that fact, very serious questions remain about the basis for the finding that this transaction did not threaten to impair U.S. national security."
Figures involved in the transaction reportedly donated money to former President Bill Clinton and his family foundation. Hillary Clinton was one of those on the Obama administration's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which approved the transaction.
"The donations raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest for Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration," added Grassley, according to Fox News.
Grassley also wants to know if government officials were aware of the FBI probe when they agreed to proceed with the sale to Rosatom.
"The fact that Rosatom subsidiaries in the United States were under criminal investigation as a result of a U.S. intelligence operation apparently around the time the CFIUS approved the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction raises questions about whether that information factored into CFIUS decision to approve the transaction," added Grassley.
Sources: The Hill (2), Fox News, Daily Mail / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Eric Bridiers/U.S. State Department/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons, Christopher Harris/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons