Retired Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that while he served as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Congress exercised no oversight over the activities of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
In 2010, during his tenure as chairman, CFIUS approved the controversial ARMZ-Uranium One transaction that gave the Russian government control of 20 percent of American uranium deposits.
The failure of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to disclose the ties between executives at Uranium One, who benefited financially from the approval of the transaction, is at the center of the conflict of interest scandals outlined in Clinton Cash, the recently released book written by Breitbart News editor-at-large Peter Schweizer.
“There’s no way you’re going to tie me into this,” Frank tells Breitbart News.
“I didn’t have that much communication with CFIUS. I helped set up CFIUS [with the passage of Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007]. We had a request to the Bush administration that it would be good to have a procedure [to deal with foreign investments].”
Frank explained the impetus for the legislation was the controversy surrounding the 2005-2006 Dubai Ports deal.
As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in 2010, Frank was the key person in Congress with whom CFIUS communicated. The 2007 law he helped pass authorized Congressional oversight of CFIUS actions, and in his capacity as chairman Frank was one of the members of Congress most directly responsible for CFIUS oversight.
But Frank recalls his role in that oversight process as virtually non-existent.
Breitbart News asked Frank if he recalled receiving a communication from CFIUS on October 22, 2010 when the panel approved the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction.
“I don’t remember that,” Frank tells Breitbart News. “We [Congress] had no power.”
“This [ARMZ-Uranium One transaction] never came to my attention. I don’t remember it being very controversial,” Frank says.
“The most controversial deal was somebody wanting to buy a hotel overlooking the White House,” Frank says.
“I do recall there was some debate over the economics of the [ARMZ-Uranium One] transaction,” Frank adds.
Frank also tells Breitbart News he never received a classified briefing from CFIUS.
“I never received a classified briefing from CFIUS,” Frank says. He adds that, “I was invited to one classified briefing when I was in the minority” on another topic by the Bush administration.
Frank does not recall his Republican colleagues on the committee at the time raising objections to the CFIUS approval of the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction.
“I do not remember any Republican member of the Financial Services Committee raising that issue with me,” Frank says.
“Some other committees, such as Foreign Relations or Armed Services,” Frank says, may have paid closer attention to CFIUS oversight at the time.
The portrait of Frank that emerges from the exclusive Breitbart interview is of someone totally disinterested in exercising Congressional oversight responsibilities over any CFIUS approved transactions.
Frank stated several times during the Breitbart News interview that at the time he was focused primarily on legislative solutions to pressing financial crises.
Breitbart News pointed out to Frank that when CFIUS submitted its 2010 annual report to Congress, it contained an error in its description of the ARMZ-Uranium One deal. It classified the only mining transaction of the year as one in which the acquiring company was Canadian, rather than Russian.
The only mining transaction that took place in 2010, however, was the ARMZ acquistion of controlling interest in Uranium One. While Uranium One is a Canadian company, ARMZ, the acquiring company, is Russian.
Breitbart News asked Frank if, after receiving and reviewing the 2010 CFIUS annual report, he noticed this error and asked for a correction from CFIUS.
Frank’s response is illuminating.
“First I ever heard of it,” Frank says. “I paid no attention to that [2010 CFIUS annual] report.”
On Sunday, Frank weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s role in the controversial 2010 deal that gave the Russian government control of 20 percent of America’s uranium deposits. In an article published in the Portland Press Herald, the former House Financial Services Committee Chairman did not acknowledge his own failure to lead the Congressional oversight of that deal:
Clinton is accused of supporting a policy of cooperation with Russia by helping a Russian company buy uranium. This was a policy that began under President George W. Bush and was continued by President Obama until Russia invaded Ukraine.
This “scandal” follows others, like her non-role in the murder of an American ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and her unsuspicious use of a secure personal email account when she was secretary of state. Articles about each accusation usually include a reference to previous controversies. The intent is to make people likelier to believe the accusation du jour.
Current House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) noted in an April 30 radio interview that Frank, the committee’s chairman in 2010, was responsible for Congressional oversight of the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction approval by CFIUS at the time. As Breitbart News reported:
“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.”
In 2010, several Republican legislators, including Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Representative Peter King (R-NY) objected to the ARMZ-Uranium One transaction on national security grounds. On the face of it, it seems ludicrous that an agency of the United States Government would transfer control of 20 percent of America’s uranium deposits to the Russian government, a country that can hardly be described as one of America’s closest allies.
But within the CFIUS review process, the panel saw little cause for concern, choosing to not send it to the Presidential level for a final decision, as could have under the 2007 law.
Subsequent to the deal’s final approval in 2010 by CFIUS, very little has been heard from Republicans on the topic until the recent publication of Schweizer’s Clinton Cash book and the corresponding coverage by the mainstream media, including the New York Times.
Frank also has long established ties to the Clintons. In 2008 he endorsed Hillary Clinton in her unsuccessful campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for President.
Frank’s sister, Ann Lewis, a veteran political operator, served as Bill Clinton’s Director of Communications from 1997 to 2000. She also played a key role in Hillary’s 2008 campaign.
Based on recent news reports, she may also soon start playing a role in Hillary’s 2016 campaign.
As the Daily Beast reported:
“I was with Bill de Blasio in the 2000 Senate campaign. I bumped into him several times in Ohio in 2008 when he was campaigning for Hillary,” said Ann Lewis, a longtime Clinton adviser. “And I fully expect to be campaigning with him again.”
Though former Representative Frank may believe “there’s no way you’re going to tie me into this,” if current House Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling chooses to hold hearings on the role of CFIUS in the 2010 ARMZ-Uranium One transaction, the degree to which Frank exercised Congressional oversight of that transaction may be one of several topics the committee addresses.