US Justice Department mulls special prosecutor to probe Clinton Foundation

Washington, United StatesUpdated: Nov 14, 2017, 01:28 PM IST

Hillary Clinton. Photograph:(Others)

The US Justice Department says it has asked prosecutors to examine alleged misconduct at the Clinton Foundation and the controversial Obama-era sale of a uranium firm to Russia, and whether a special counsel might be needed to investigate.

The move, disclosed in a letter to lawmakers, came as Attorney General Jeff Sessions was poised to testify today about election year contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

As the former head of the Trump campaign's foreign policy advisory team, sessions can expect a tough grilling from Democrats about what he knew about the contacts.

Sessions have previously testified under oath that he had no knowledge of any collusion with the Russians, but a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered contacts by lower level campaign advisers.

As the Russia election meddling probe has heated up, US President Donald Trump, as well as Republican lawmakers, have called for a probe into Hillary Clinton and the sale of a uranium company to Russia under former president Barack Obama.

Yesterday, the Justice Department responded to the Republican demands in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, who also will preside over Tuesday's hearing with sessions.

Sessions, it said, has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate Goodlatte's request for a special counsel to investigate the uranium sale and "alleged unlawful dealings related to the Clinton Foundation and other matters."

The prosecutors "will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, and whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel," it said.

The letter, first obtained by broadcaster NBC News, was signed by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.

Republican lawmakers in late October announced they were investigating the 2013 sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russian state-owned company Rosatom, which was approved by former president Barack Obama.

The move gave Rosatom control of 20 percent of US uranium stockpiles and was decided after Uranium One made several donations to the Clinton Foundation of former president Bill Clinton.

They are also demanding more clarity on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice decided during the height of last year's White House race to not pursue charges against Clinton over her misuse of a personal email server.

The Justice Department letter said the handling of the Clinton email case was under review by the department's inspector general, and an assessment would be made of what steps should be taken, if any, once it is completed.