Jeff Sessions authorizes Justice Department to consider investigating Clinton Foundation

Sessions had pledged to avoid matters related to presidential campaigns.

November 14, 2017, 7:41 AM

— -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions has authorized senior prosecutors at the Justice Department to evaluate whether allegations regarding the Clinton Foundation and the sale of a uranium company need to be investigated by a special counsel, according to a letter he sent the House Judiciary Committee on Monday night that has since been obtained by ABC News.

Sessions is responding to a request to appoint a special counsel sought by Republicans on the committee, the letter reads.

The Justice Department has been under pressure from President Donald Trump to investigate the Clinton Foundation and the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian-based company that in 2010 had most of its ownership rights sold to a Russian agency.

The U.S. government had to approve the deal because Uranium One produced significant amounts of uranium in the United States. The State Department, which at the time was led by Hillary Clinton, was one of several federal agencies that had to weigh in on the matter. Ultimately, the sale was approved.

Republicans are raising questions because around the same time, business associates of Uranium One donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

Sessions had pledged to steer clear of Clinton-related investigations, announcing in March that he would recuse himself "from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way" to Clinton's or Trump's 2016 presidential campaigns.

But in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd writes, "The attorney general has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters. These senior prosecutors will report directly to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or whether any matters merit the appointment of a special counsel."

Goodlatte had also raised questions about the handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Boyd informed Goodlatte that the Department of Justice forwarded a copy of the letter to the department's inspector general, which is investigating former FBI Director James Comey's and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch's handling of the matter.

Sessions faces a divided and deeply partisan House Judiciary Committee today.

Democrats will be seeking answers from the embattled attorney general about his knowledge of Russia-related contacts by Trump campaign officials.

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