It seems that House Republicans are feeling nostalgic for their Obama-era investigations.
On the same day that the House Republicans on the Oversight and Judiciary committees announced an investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry, House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) touted another investigation being launched into Obama administration’s Justice Department, having to do with a 2010-11 Russian uranium deal that has gotten fresh scrutiny. That investigation is also being shared with the House Oversight Committee.
The announcement comes as the pace picks up on a number of congressional probes into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians’ meddling in the 2016 election.
Nunes, who has continued to operate at the fringes of House Intel’s Russia probe despite stepping down from leading it in April, said at a press conference Tuesday that he had not had any communications with the White House about the new uranium probe. He also seemed to vaguely deny that he had ever fully recused himself from House Intel’s Russia investigation.
“I would refer back to the statement that I originally sent out as my relationship with the Russia investigation,” Nunes said as he faced repeated questions about whether he has stepped aside from that probe. “I can give you the facts and you guys can write what you write, but sometimes if you write opinion, that’s not based on fact. That’s not what I said at the time, and I would prefer you guys stop referring to that. But I can’t control what you guys write.”
That statement, issued in April after Nunes came under fire for allegedly mishandling classified information, said that Nunes was letting Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and two other committee Republicans “temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation” while he continued “to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman.”
Regardless, Rep. Pete King (R-NY), who leads Intel’s subcommittee on emerging threats, stressed that this new investigation is completely seperate from the Russia election meddling probe.
“This is totally seperate from the election issue. This has nothing to do with the 2016 [election]. This goes back to dealings in 2010, 2011 and 2012,” he said.
In recent days, The Hill has run a number of reports casting a suspicious light on a transaction the Obama administration approved allowing a Russian company to purchase a majority stake in a Canadian company that oversaw 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply. The Hill reports alleged that the FBI had been gathering evidence prior to the deal that it was part of a wider Russian bribery plot.
Trump raised the issue repeatedly during the 2016 campaign, as Clinton was secretary of state at the time. The Hill reports allege that the FBI inquiry had surfaced evidence that the Russian officials had funneled money into the Clintons’ private foundation, when Hillary Clinton, as a cabinet official, sat on a committee overseeing such transactions.
A spokesperson for Bill Clinton rebuked the claims, while pointing to various debunkers of the accusations last week, after Trump referenced the allegations.
This is rich. The President of the United States is calling the media fake while peddling a debunked lie. https://t.co/cYSQFWc1z4
— Angel Ureña (@angelurena) October 19, 2017
The Republicans on Tuesday said that they had been interested in the deal for a while, but new information about had prompted them to announce the investigation.
“So last Congress, this really was not really investigated. But I am happy to report that House leadership is fully behind this investigation,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who leads Oversight’s subcommittee on national security. Gowdy was not present at the press conference
Nunes wouldn’t say whether high-level Obama administration officials, such as Clinton or former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, would be called to cooperate with the investigation. He also didn’t rule out speaking to the White House about it in the future.
“We are going to have to talk to the executive branch in order to get information from DOJ and FBI,” Nunes said, later adding that he would also brief the White House on the investigation “if appropriate.”