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Republicans press Uranium One deal probe despite no wrongdoing findings

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By Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers are pressing forward with an investigation into the 2010 sale of a Canadian uranium company, which owned 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies, to a Russian government firm, despite five congressional inquiries having found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Copies of letters by the heads of two U.S. House of Representatives committees released on Wednesday showed they were seeking documents and other material on the deal from the FBI, the Treasury and State Departments and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The letters set a deadline of Nov. 30.

Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, opened investigations on Oct. 24 into the agreement struck during the previous administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

The committees “have questions … about the review and approval” of the sale of Uranium One – which owned 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies – by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, according to the letters.

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The committees also want to know if the FBI “had evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering,” the letters said.

Although Hillary Clinton was not mentioned by name, the letters reflect unsubstantiated allegations by U.S. President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, and right-wing media that the 2016 Democratic nominee masterminded the approval of the sale in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Five committees in the U.S. House and Senate found no evidence that Clinton was behind the CFIUS’ approval of the deal, according to congressional records.

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In Twitter posts, Trump has called for an investigation of the sale, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday he is evaluating whether to appoint a special counsel.

Democrats and other critics say the allegations are baseless, and that Trump and his supporters are fanning them to distract attention from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether there was any collusion between the Trump election campaign and Russia.

While Clinton was Secretary of State at the time of the sale, her department has only one of nine votes on CFIUS, which is chaired by the Treasury Department and approved the sale unanimously.

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In addition, the State Department CFIUS seat was occupied not by her, but by Jose Fernandez, then-assistant secretary for economic, energy, and business affairs, who has said Clinton played no role in the decision.

The sale also was approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Obama.

In a related development, Representative Elijah Cummings, the top oversight committee Democrat, objected on Wednesday to the Republicans’ refusal to give Democrats access to an unidentified FBI informant whom Republican lawmakers say has new evidence in the case.

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In a letter to Gowdy, Cummings said Republican lawmaker Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Oct. 22 that he thought the informant could link the approval of the Uranium One sale to “millions of dollars” that “sources connected to Uranium One” donated to the Clinton Foundation.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball; Editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool)


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Republican analyst says Trump is ‘threatened by’ being challenged by women: ‘It hurts his ego’

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According to one Republican commentator, President Donald Trump's decision to lash out at four Congresswomen of color stems from his inability to handle being challenged by women.

In a segment with MSNBC host Ali Velshi, Rina Shah, who runs Republican Women for Progress, said that she's been the target of racist attacks from Trump supporters ever since she announced she wouldn't support him.

"I believe that what this president is doing is fanning the flames," she said. "He cannot denounce white supremacy, white nationalism. This is a moment in which he could have kept his mouth shut. You know, this tit-for-tat with [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi (D-CA) and 'The Squad,' he didn’t need to engage in it. If I was advising the president, if I were one of his advisers, I would have said stay out of it. But he doesn't listen to anyone around him."

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Mitt Romney blames democratic women for Trump’s racism: Their views ‘are not consistent with my experience’

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Little more than six months ago Senator-elect Mitt Romney (R-UT) promised voters he would "speak out" against President Donald Trump's racism. On Monday, Senator Mitt Romney blamed the targets of President Donald Trump's two-day racism fest for the President's own racism.

"I will speak out against significant statements or actions," by President Trump, "that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions," Romney said in a New Year's Day 2019 Washington Post op-ed.

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Facebook needs ‘very high standard’ for Libra coin: Mnuchin

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Facebook will need to meet "a very high standard" before it moves ahead with its planned digital currency Libra, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin said US regulators have already expressed concerns to Facebook about the plan for a global cryptocurrency, noting that these kinds of virtual coins have in the past been associated with money laundering and illicit activities.

"Whether they're banks or non-banks, they're under the same regulatory environment," Mnuchin told reporters at the White House, adding that Facebook "will have to have a very high standard before they have access to the financial system."

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