Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

House Panels Probe Obama Administration Decision on Uranium Sale

  • Republicans question why Russian-backed purchase was allowed
  • U.S. in 2010 cleared the sale of company called Uranium One

U.S. House committees are investigating why former President Barack Obama’s administration allowed a Russian-backed company to purchase American uranium mines in 2010.

The House Intelligence and Oversight panels will look into the matter, Devin Nunes, a California Republican who is chairman of the intelligence committee, told reporters Tuesday.

"What we are here today to announce is an inquiry into Russia’s involvement into the uranium deal done several years ago," Nunes told reporters.

The deal, involving the purchase of a company called Uranium One, was cleared when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. The New York Times reported in 2015 that Bill Clinton’s foundation received donations from leaders of Uranium One, a Canadian company that sold a majority stake to an arm of the Russian government.

President Donald Trump has tried to highlight the issue and blamed Hillary Clinton for selling one-fifth of the U.S. capacity to produce uranium, which is used in nuclear reactors. Democrats have said Trump is trying to divert attention from a federal investigation into possible collaboration between his campaign and Moscow.

A national security panel called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. cleared the deal. The State Department is represented on the panel but Hillary Clinton’s campaign said she was not involved in the process.

Republican lawmakers have said they want to know whether the FBI opened an investigation into bribes and criminal activity involving the Russian company that ultimately purchased Uranium One. If there was a criminal probe, lawmakers have said they want to know whether the FBI informed officials who were part of the decision-making process on the sale of Uranium One.

Appearing at an Oct. 18 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wouldn’t say whether there was ever an FBI investigation. He said it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to comment on an ongoing investigation.

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