Senate Republicans don’t rule out special counsel for investigation of Russia uranium deal

Senate Republicans don’t rule out special counsel for investigation of Russia uranium deal
United States Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Sept. 19. Ron Sachs/AP
United States Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters on Sept. 19. Ron Sachs/AP

Welcome to Mic’s daily read on Donald Trump’s America. Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here.

Every day, we bring you a different dispatch on Trump’s America. Today’s focus: uranium.

Wednesday’s dispatch: Republicans don’t rule out special counsel in the Uranium One deal

On Monday evening, White House chief of staff John Kelly said a special counsel should investigate whether Hillary Clinton played a role in selling an American uranium company to Russia.

On Tuesday, several Republican senators did not close the door to a special counsel and further shifting focus from the Trump-Russia investigations to Clinton — as the House has sought to do for a week. Some senators told Mic the uranium deal needed to be investigated, while others deferred to Kelly.

Clinton has been attacked over the uranium deal for seven years. But no evidence has ever shown she, or the administration of former President Barack Obama, approved the sale of an American uranium company to receive contributions, a recent charge in conservative media also pushed by Trump. A thorough review of the deal says several federal regulatory groups approved it, and Clinton could not have stopped it if she wanted to.

“All things Russia,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of whether the deal should be investigated. He said it’s too early to know if there should be a special counsel. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) agreed, saying, “The chief of staff has a strong position.”

“I’m a marine,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). “Who am I to question a general when I was a mere captain?”

Special counsels are in no way a common appointment in Washington. Only a handful have been appointed to investigate any of the numerous national scandals linked to the federal government since 1999.

“The American people need to know how Russia has acquired 20% of our uranium deposits,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.).

That “20%” refers to a fifth of American uranium mining capacity, not deposits. And none of that uranium has been shipped to Russia directly, according to a federal agency. In fact, Russia was likely more interested in the uranium mining facilities owned by Uranium One in Kazakhstan.

But Republicans believe the deal should still be scrutinized.

“I’ve always been very troubled by the Clintons profiting and making money from people in that uranium deal,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “There’s definitely not been enough attention paid to the Clintons’ involvement in that uranium deal.”

The Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars in contributions from investors in Uranium One. And Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russia-based bank for a speech in 2010. But again, there’s no proof any of that influenced the deal.

“I am delighted the attention has now been turned to this,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of Senate leadership whose state is home to the Uranium One mines. “I’ve been focused on this since 2010. I’d been stonewalled by the Obama administration.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was one of only two Republicans Mic spoke to who said there was no need for a special counsel. “I haven’t seen anything that justifies that,” Flake said. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said he doesn’t see a need for a special counsel, but promised the deal is being investigated.

Today’s question: Why do you think some Republicans are OK with keeping the focus on a uranium deal with Russia?

Please email us your thoughts at trumpsamerica@mic.com.

Wednesday in Trump’s America

NYC terror attack: Eight people were killed after a man drove a pickup truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan. He hit pedestrians and bikers before slamming into a school bus. He was shot by police after emerging from the vehicle.

The driver was a 29-year-old man from Tampa, Florida, who may have been living in New Jersey. He reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” before he was shot by police. He was taken into custody on Tuesday night. He allegedly claimed the attack was for ISIS.

Hours after the attack, President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. will impose more “extreme vetting” requirements on immigrants to protect American citizens. The driver was an Uzbek citizen who came to the U.S. legally in 2010.

By late Tuesday night, the far right was peddling an unconfirmed report that the attacker entered the U.S. through a “diversity visa program” for people from countries that have few immigrants to America. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) helped create that program back in 1990 — which led to conservatives and Trump blaming Schumer for the attack.

Tax reform: Republicans are delaying their rollout a day amidst concerns that cutting the corporate tax rate will entail ending too many popular tax breaks. The GOP has already pulled back from a plan to lower the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans. And many Republicans are expected to balk at the elimination of tax cuts to pay for lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%.

Obamacare open enrollment: Today is the first day you can sign up for health insurance on the individual marketplace. Trump has actively attacked the program, even as it still provides insurance for millions of people, which has led some to worry about how many people will sign up.

Netflix: House of Cards production has been suspended following sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey.

Climate change: More than 2,000 cities worldwide are producing more pollution than they should be.

Tech companies’ testimony: Facebook, Google and Twitter all came under scrutiny from senators on Tuesday. Republicans and Democrats alike questioned whether social media platforms hold too much power and if they can prevent Russian interference from happening again.

Shutdown? Democratic senators are now raising the possibility of shutting down the government if a protection for DACA recipients is not included in a deal to keep the government open past December. The idea was first suggested by progressive and Latino Democrats in the House.

Today’s MicBite:

At Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Shelbyville, Tennessee, counterprotesters used music and jokes to disrupt the racist groups gathered in the area. Tap or click the video below to watch.