WASHINGTON — Republican leaders of three House committees announced Tuesday they are launching two separate investigations involving former secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
One probe will deal with why the Obama administration allowed a Russian company to acquire U.S. uranium mines, and a second will look into why the FBI decided not to pursue charges against Clinton for use of a personal email server.
One of the committees involved — the House Intelligence Committee — is also involved in the ongoing investigation of whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government's efforts to meddle in the U.S. election.
Leaders of two House committees said they are looking into whether the FBI or Department of Justice ever opened an investigation of the sale of U.S. uranium mines to the Russians during the Obama administration.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said his committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want to know whether there was an investigation of the uranium sale back in 2010 and, if so, why Congress was never informed.
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., a member of the Oversight Committee, said there is a confidential informant who wants to testify before the committees about the sale.
"We're not going to jump to any conclusions at this time," Nunes said at a news conference. "Our job is to get the facts ... and we're going to do just that."
Recent reports in The Hill newspaper said there was an FBI investigation into Russian officials engaging in bribery and extortion while trying to buy Uranium One, a Canadian company that controlled 20% of the U.S. uranium supply.
Republicans are now questioning why the Obama administration and the State Department, under Clinton's leadership, allowed the sale to the Russian government-run Rosatom, and whether donations to the Clinton Foundation had any role in the decision.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders applauded the new investigations, saying “I certainly think it’s a move in the right direction and it’s something we’ve spoken about several times here — that if there was any collusion whatsoever during the campaigns at any point, or any collusion at any point with another country, that they should look at the Clintons.”
Clinton dismissed Republican concerns about the sale of U.S. uranium mines to the Russians during her tenure as "baloney" during an interview on C-SPAN on Monday.
She said Republicans are just trying to draw attention away from the ongoing probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Three congressional committees — including the House Intelligence Committee — and special counsel Robert Mueller are conducting investigations of the election meddling.
"I think the real story is how nervous they (Republicans) are about these continuing investigations," Clinton said on C-SPAN.
The chairmen of the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee also announced Tuesday that they have opened a joint investigation into decisions made by the Justice Department while it was probing Hillary Clinton's private email server.
That inquiry will look into such questions as why the FBI publicly announced an investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of State but did not publicly disclose an investigation of Trump's campaign associates.
"These investigations were initiated on a partisan basis, and will shed no light on Russia's interference in the 2016 election, but then again they are not intended to do so.," said Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "They are designed to distract attention and pursue the President's preferred goal – attacking Clinton and Obama."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee at the time or the uranium sale, said he wrote to former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to express concern about the deal back in 2010.
"We were questioning the policy about why 20 percent of America's uranium supply was going to a Russian-owned company," King said. "It didn't seem to make sense to us."
Both Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., are seen by Democrats as highly partisan leaders. Nunes served on Trump's transition team, and Gowdy chaired the special committee House Republicans created to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi.
Nunes announced in April that he would temporarily give up control of the committee's Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee investigated complaints against him for his handling of classified information.
Nunes has remained chairman of the committee, but Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has officially been leading the Russia probe. However, Nunes has continued to issue subpoenas related to the investigation, sparking an outcry from Democrats.
Nunes has said that he did not recuse himself in April when he temporarily stepped aside from the Russia probe and still has the power to issue subpoenas. Nunes has been focusing on the "unmasking" of Trump aides by U.S. intelligence agencies — disclosing their identities in intelligence reports — an issue that he views as separate from the overall Russia investigation.