Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 @ 2:49 PM
By: Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
— Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed a House committee this week that the Justice Department is considering whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate any possible ties between donations to The Clinton Foundation and a decision to allow Russia’s nuclear agency to buy a uranium mining operation in the United States.
A letter delivered Monday to the House Judiciary Committee said the department was weighing its options when it came to appointing a special counsel to look into the 2010 decision to allow Uranium One to do business in the United States.
Some Republicans have charged that the decision was made in exchange for donations to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s family foundation. Both the head of the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees have called for an investigation into the deal.
What is Uranium One and what is it’s connection to the Clinton Foundation? Here’s a look at the deal and the controversy.
What is Uranium One?
Uranium One is an energy company with headquarters in Canada. It is one of the world’s largest uranium producers.
The company has holdings in the United States, in Wyoming. It is a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency.
In 2009, Rosatom purchased a minority stake in Uranium One. In 2010, they came back to purchase a 51 percent share of the company, giving Rosatom a majority share. In 2013, Rosatom purchased the company.
Who cares if the Russians purchased a Canadian company?
Usually, no one but the Russians and the Canadians would care, but part of Uranium One’s holdings involved the United States.
In 2009, before Rosatom bought Uranium One, the company purchased the Willow Creek uranium mine and related properties near Casper, Wyoming.
According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as of Dec. 31, 2013, Willow Creek had estimated reserves of 9.8 million tonnes of ore grading 0.066 percent uranium.
Since the deal Rosatom made involved roughly 20 percent of uranium production capacity in the United States, the U.S. government had to OK the arrangement. The NRC issued the license to Rosatom.
According to OilPrice.com, Rosatom is prohibited from exporting the uranium outside of the United States since uranium is considered a national security asset.
The 2010 sale of the Willow Creek Mine was allowed only after approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS.
Who sits on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States?
CFIUS is made up of the heads of from several government agencies including:
Department of the Treasury (chair)
Department of Justice
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of State
Department of Energy
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Office of Science & Technology Policy
The committee’s job is to “review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.”
The president of the United States is the only one who can veto a deal.
So how did Hillary Clinton become involved?
Clinton was secretary of state when the deal was up for review. The issue of impropriety arose when people associated with Uranium One donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton family’s charitable organization.
A book by Peter Schweizer called “Clinton Cash," made news of the donations by Uranium One to the Clinton Foundation public.
President Donald Trump has said a special counsel should be appointed to investigate any possible link between the Clintons and the Uranium One deal.
A few days later, the president said, “I think the uranium sale to Russia and the way it was done — so underhanded, with tremendous amounts of money being passed — I actually think that’s Watergate, modern age.”
Trump's comments came after a story published by The Hill reported that the FBI was investigating bribes in connection with Russia’s atomic energy business within the United States.
The Associated Press reported, “... a report last month said the FBI was investigating possible Russian attempts to influence the U.S. nuclear sector at the time CFIUS was considering the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom. The report said members of the committee, including Clinton, should have known about the investigation and it questioned why they would have approved it.”