Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a small group of lawmakers in late September he was recused from appointing a special counsel to look into potential corruption surrounding the Uranium One deal and Fusion GPS’s work on the Trump dossier, according to one of the lawmakers present.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Breitbart News on Wednesday that he and other House Judiciary Committee Republicans had met with Sessions at the Justice Department on September 28 in advance of an upcoming committee hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein later this month.
Gaetz said that when he asked Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate the 2010 Uranium One deal and Fusion GPS, the attorney general stood up, said he could not discuss the matter because he had recused himself, and walked out of the room, leaving them with a group of Rosenstein staffers “who showed no interest.”
“He said that anything that had to do with 2016 election, or Russia, or the candidates in the 2016 election, fell under the scope of his recusal, and he left the room,” Gaetz said.
“It was Sessions’ position that his recusal on the Russia matter divorced him from any oversight on Uranium One and Fusion GPS. That’s troubling. Sessions’ recusal is a function of his involvement in the Trump campaign. In no world does that impact his judgment as it relates to Fusion GPS and Uranium One. But he views the recusal more broadly. That’s troubling because that puts Rosenstein in charge,” he said.
Gaetz said Rosenstein’s staffers provided “no answers” and “no timeline for answers.”
“It must be very frustrating for the president that the Department of Justice is overreacting to fictitious allegations and subsequently paralyzed to truly vet incursions into our nuclear assets,” he said. “Attorney General Sessions does not believe he has the power to appoint a special counsel on this matter.”
Other House members present at the meeting were Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and Louis Gohmert (R-TX).
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said others in the room do not remember Sessions saying anything like that and that the subject was “discussed.” She would not comment on whether Sessions has recused himself.
“I’ve talked to people who were in the room and they don’t remember him saying anything like this. The subject was discussed so maybe someone misconstrued what he said. I can’t comment on recusal issues though because to do so would confirm or deny the existence of an investigation,” she said in a statement to Breitbart News.
Republican pressure is mounting on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to look into the 2010 Uranium One deal and potential corruption surrounding the deal involving then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation.
The Hill reported last month that the FBI had gathered evidence of widespread Russian bribery and a kickback scheme to grow Moscow’s nuclear energy business inside the U.S. the same time the deal — which allowed Russian firm Rosatom to purchase one-fifth of U.S. uranium assets — was allowed to go through. Lawmakers say they were not informed of the FBI’s probe at the time, which they say would have stopped the deal from going forward.
Sessions’ recusal could mean that any decision to appoint a special counsel would fall to Rosenstein.
Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed frustration with Sessions and perhaps Rosenstein, calling on “whoever” was not recused at the Justice Department to call for a special counsel.
“Whoever in DOJ is capable w authority to appoint a special counsel shld do so to investigate Uranium One ‘whoever’ means if u aren’t recused,” he tweeted.
Sessions has so far refused to confirm publicly whether he has recused himself from the Uranium One case.
When asked by radio show host Hugh Hewitt last week if he was recused, he responded: “Well, the, you know, of course there was one case that’s already been prosecuted, and people have been sentenced on, but as to what may happen after that, if anything, I’m not able to comment.”
When asked if he was recused from any investigations into the Clinton investigation, he responded, “Yes.”
Gaetz said he was heartened by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s call for a special counsel to look into the Uranium One deal during a Fox News interview on Monday, and he and his fellow Republicans on the Judiciary Committee plan to press Sessions and Rosenstein during the upcoming hearing on the need for one.
“My expectation is that there will be very tough questions asked about why we have not pursued the Uranium One scandal with the same vigor that we’ve pursued Trump Russia allegations that so far have proven unfounded,” he said.
He said Mueller cannot lead any investigation into Uranium One since he led the FBI at the time of its investigation into the bribery scheme and at the time the Uranium One deal went through. The FBI also reportedly threatened a witness from talking to members of Congress about what he knew.
“Mueller was not a spectator to the transactions that now give us grave concern about our uranium assets,” he said.