It’s Getting Bad Folks

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Jeff Sessions is considering appointing a new special counsel to probe things President Trump said he wants investigated about Hillary Clinton and James Comey.

The main focus of Sessions decision appears to be the “uranium one” conspiracy theory which has been an increasing focus of President Trump’s and which he has demanded the Justice Department investigate.

The story was first reported by the Post and then a short time later by the Times. It’s notable to see how each news organization has grappled with what seems to be the transparently political nature of what Sessions is doing. The Post, at least in its original version of the story, all but ignored it. The only mention is a final sentence that reads: “Sessions’s letter is likely to be seen by some, especially on the left, as an inappropriate bending to political pressure.”

The Times handling was more complicated. Remember that the Uranium One story originated in a research project sponsored by Steve Bannon, one that the Times agreed to partner with back in 2015. The second paragraph of the Times piece reads like it was cut and pasted from a Breitbart piece …

The prosecutors will examine reports of misconduct at the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration’s 2010 decision to allow a Russian nuclear energy agency to acquire much of the United States’ uranium, among other matters, according to a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee from a senior Justice Department official on Monday.

This is a deep distortion of what happened. The US allowed the mining subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy agency, to take a majority stake of Uranium One, a Canadian company which had two mining operations in the US which together accounted for roughly 20% of US uranium production. The specifics of the deal do not allow any uranium produced in the United States to leave the United States. This is at best a distortion of what the actual deal was.

That said, the Times account is much clearer on the politics involved. The Times notes that the letter comes ten days after Trump publicly demanded that the DOJ go after Clinton. And then there’s this graf …

The decision to examine those matters raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the special counsel’s investigation into his presidential campaign. It also comes at a tenuous time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Mr. Trump has hinted to advisers he may want to fire. People close to the White House believe Mr. Sessions can stop the president from firing him by appointing a special counsel to investigate the uranium deal. Before leaving for a trip to Asia this month, Mr. Trump expressed his frustration with the Justice Department.

To not get ahead of ourselves, it is important to note that the letter in question only says that Sessions is considering the right course to take and that appointing a special counsel is just one option. But make no mistake: this is as bad as it looks. A President is demanding that federal law enforcement go after his political enemies. And federal law enforcement appears ready to comply.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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