House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) has sent a letter to Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew asking for answers on the 2010 approval by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) of a controversial deal in which the Russian government gained control of 20 percent of America’s uranium deposits.
In an April 30 appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio program, Hensarling told guest host, former Congressman John Campbell, “we have sent to CFIUS a letter demanding relevant documents [related to the 2010 approval of the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction] as part of an official discovery process.”
CFIUS is a nine member panel, chaired by the Secretary of Treasury, that reviews business transactions that may have an impact on national security. By law, the Secretary of State is one of the panel members. In 2010, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was represented on the panel by then-Assistant Secretary of State Jose W. Fernandez.
“Well, you yourself, John, know more about this [CFIUS approval process] than most others since it was within your [former] subcommittee jurisdiction,” Hensarling told Campbell.
CFIUS, Hensarling explained “has to essentially approve the acquisition by foreign entities of U.S. strategic interest that could have national security concerns. .. [T]he Department of State is a key member of this group called CFIUS, the Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S.”
ARMZ, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom, the nuclear energy conglomerate owned entirely by Russian government, acquired a 17 percent interest in Uranium One, the Canadian company that owned 20 percent of American uranium deposits, in 2009. In 2010 CFIUS approved its acquisition of an additional 34 percent of the company, giving it a controlling 51 percent interest. In 2013, ARMZ acquired the remainining 49% of Uranium One and took the company private.
“At the time, “Hensarling noted, “Barney Frank, a Democrat, was chairman of the committee. But the House Republicans protested at the time. We urged CFIUS not to approve the transaction that has led to Russia to control the lion’s share of uranium product, and as you well know, to control a fifth of the United States, our own American uranium production. So we protested at the time.”
Frank retired from Congress in 2013. As Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in 2010, he would have been the member of Congress who received notification by CFIUS that the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction had been approved. Frank has offered no public comment on the controversy. It is unclear what CFIUS communicated to him about the transaction at the time.
“CFIUS comes within the jurisdiction of the House Financial Services Committee. Just today, in fact, an hour ago, we have sent to CFIUS a letter demanding relevant documents as part of an official discovery process,” Hensarling said.
“The chair of CFIUS is Treasury, so this letter goes to Secretary Jack Lew, Secretary of Treasury,” Hensarling said.
Hensarling was cautious not to claim, based on what he currently knows, that anything in the CFIUS approval process was inappropriate.
“I am leaping to no conclusions, but frankly, we would be negligent if we didn’t demand the documents [related to the CFIUS approval of the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction],” Hensarling said.
Hensarling noted that Congress sees its role in the CFIUS approval process as exercising oversight after the fact.
“Congress does not have a direct approval or disapproval [of these types of transactions]. This is power that has been granted to the executive branch. It is one that we have oversight, which as you well know, we get to review documents, sometimes, before the facts, frequently after the fact, ask the right questions in front of the klieg lights. But outside of that, it is a decision of the administration,” Hensarling said.
“[W]e don’t know what took place at this Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S., and so we have demanded the relevant documents from the Secretary of Treasury. . . And I’m anxiously awaiting the receipt of those documents. And then the House Financial Services Committee will begin to analyze and inspect those documents, and see where an investigation may or may not lead,” Hensarling said.
“At this point, John, we are simply demanding the documents relevant to the decision that allowed Uranium One to be, well, essentially, to allow Russia and Putin to acquire one-fifth of uranium assets in the United States of America,” Hensarling said.
Campbell noted that during his days in Congress “classified” briefings were some times provided with information that was already in the public domain.
“Now when I was involved in CFIUS reviews, they were often times classified,” former Congressman Campbell told Hensarling.
“[T]he briefing I got, and all the information I got was in the room with all the doors shut and no Blackberries and all that kind of stuff, because it was all classified. I would expect that some of the, that some of the response you’re going to get is going to rise to that level as well,” Campbell said.
“[M]ost likely, some of this information [we’ve asked Treasury to provide us about the CFIUS process] will be classified. Having said that, John, you and I both know that most of the time you go to one of these classified briefings, and everything you hear was either put on the news the day before or will soon appear on the day after,” Hensarling noted.
“[W]e’re already hearing from the Clinton camp that this [CFIUS approval of the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction] did not rise to her level. And I’m sitting here thinking for somebody who wants to be president of the United States, Russia acquiring one-fifth of the uranium producing assets of the United States is not something that would rise to the level of the Secretary of State?” Hensarling asked rhetorically.
Hensarling focused on the $500,000 fee Bill Clinton received in 2010 from Renaissance Capital, the Russian investment banking firm that had an interest in seeing the deal proceed.
As Breitbart News reported:
Renaissance Capital is an investment bank, “with ties to the Kremlin” according to the NY Times. Clinton was paid $500,000 for the one-hour speech.
The speech took place on June 29, 2010.
ARMZ announced its plans to increase its ownership in Uranium One to a controlling 51 percent in early June 2010.
Uranium One shareholders approved the proposed transaction on August 31, 2010. Some time in August, ARMZ and Uranium One jointly submitted the proposed transaction for review to CFIUS. That review was completed and approved on October 22, 2010.
On December 6, 2010 ARMZ and Uranium One announced the deal had been approved. The transaction was finalized later that month.
“[R]egardless of the questions of the millions of dollars that went into the Clinton Foundation, a half a million dollars for a speech, so you tell me what former members of Congress make for a speech. I suspect it’s not a half million dollar check from Canadian interests wanting to be acquired by a Russian company,” Hensarling told Campbell.
Campbell then pressed Hensarling on next steps.
“[Y]ou’ll get some response[to your April 30 request for information from Treasury], which may have information, may not, we’ll see,” Campbell said.
“Could you potentially be holding hearings on this in the future depending on this response?” he asked.
“At this point, “ Hensarling responded, “we are simply demanding the documents relevant to this decision dating back to 2010 where CFIUS moved forward to allow, again, the Russian company to acquire Uranium One.”
Hensarling then pointed out something that has largely been missed in the discussion of the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction.
“Uranium One was a Canadian company,” Hensarling noted, “ [so]we could not have blocked that [transaction]. . . But we could have caused a divestiture of the U.S. assets of the Canadian company, and the Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S. did not do that,” Hensarling noted.
Hensarling emphasized the serious national security implications of this transaction, which CFIUS apparently did not consider to rise to the level that required a Presidential review.
“[W]hat I do know about CFIUS . . . I don’t know if it was Clinton per se, but an official at State Department has to literally sign off in consent to the agreement. So somebody at the State Department consented to Russia and Putin acquiring one-fifth of our uranium assets basically at the same time that the Clinton Foundation was getting in millions of dollars from this Canadian interest that was acquired by the Russians who wanted the deal to go through. And all the while, Bill Clinton’s receiving a half million dollars speaking fee from a Russian bank also controlled ultimately, I believe, by Putin,” Hensarling said.
“Based on my experience, it would not be out of character for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and for this Treasury Department, to give you an answer that has no answer, to give you a non-answer. If you got that, Chairman Hensarling, then what?” Campbell asked.
“Well, I hope it doesn’t come down to this. I hope that they would be cooperative, although as history as my guide, I’m not holding my breath, then we would have to subpoena documents and potential subpoena witnesses. I have not always found this administration, let me be more blunt, this administration has not been cooperative, it has not has been transparent, so we’re going to give them an opportunity to cooperate,” Hensarling said.
Hensarling also criticized Hillary Clinton’s lack of transparency in general.
“We certainly hope the relevant documents don’t sit on Hillary Clinton’s personal server. We know what happens to those emails,” Hensarling added.
“[W]e’re at the first phase of our investigation, and we’ll see if either classified hearings or open hearings are demanded. But it’s a very serious matter, and you just question, forget about the aspects of potential quid pro quo and corruption, but again, what breach of duty and in the foreign, you know, in our homeland security and national defense implications of this transaction, which again, House Republicans, we were in the minority, we raised our voice, but we didn’t have the votes to do anything about it,” Hensarling said.
“Clearly, this is new information, of the millions that were going to the Clinton Foundation that had been undisclosed and unreported at the same time that this transaction was going down. And right now, we’ve demanded all the documents relevant,” Hensarling added.
“[W]hat I’m hearing from you, Chairman Hensarling, is you’re not going to let this go. Is that correct?” Campbell asked.
“I would say that the dog has the bumper in his mouth, and he will not let it go,” Hensarling responded.
Breitbart News reached out to the Treasury Department. “We have received the Chairman’s letter,” is all a Treasury spokesperson would tell Breitbart News on Monday. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the House Financial Services Committee tells Breitbart News “No, we have not gotten a written response yet [from Treasury].”