Gage Skidmore / Flickr jeff sessions...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The tax bill might be the big item under Republican trees, but Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is prepared to stuff Trumpist stockings with the gift they really want.

On the orders of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Justice Department prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents to explain the evidence they found in a now dormant criminal investigation into a controversial uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News.

The interviews with FBI agents are part of the Justice Department’s effort to fulfill a promise an assistant attorney general made to Congress last month to examine whether a special counsel was warranted to look into what has become known as the Uranium One deal, a senior Justice Department official said.

The eight-year-old Uranium One deal ended with not a single ounce of American uranium leaving the country, and with a prolonged FBI investigation that resulted in the very public conviction of a Russia-associated transportation firm. But Republicans have spent months attempting to resurrect this non-scandal and turn it into an issue for one simple reason.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who wrote the resolution, accuses Mueller of having a conflict of interest because he was serving as FBI chief when the Obama administration approved a deal allowing a Russian company to purchase a Canada-based mining group with uranium operations in the United States, according to a draft obtained by The Washington Post.

Hillary bashing is just a side item in launching a pointless Uranium One investigation investigation. The real goal is to justify forcing Robert Mueller to recuse himself over an issue that has exactly nothing to do with the task force he’s leading.

NBC’s coverage of this issue shows just how easily the press has gone along with the Republican theme song on Uranium One.

As the New York Times reported in April 2015, some of the people associated with the deal contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. 

All but one of the people who contributed to the Clinton Foundation belonged to a previous company, also called Uranium One, which sold its resources and its name to a third group years before the storied “deal.” The company that was sold in 2010 was not the same company, and didn’t have the same owners, as the one that donated to the Foundation.

And of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that Hillary Clinton had some involvement in approving the deal—which has not even the tiniest hint of truth. But that didn’t stop The Hill from generating a breathless article filled with infinite levels of innuendo.

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

The Hill admitted that the FBI had actually pursued, investigated, indicted, prosecuted, and convicted the transportation firm responsible for those bribes and money laundering. But they dismissed that effort with a top ten contender for Most Yellow Journalism Sentence of 2017.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. 

Yes. If you ignore the other press releases that were put out at every single stage of the case from arrest to indictment to conviction, all of which were followed in the press at the time, it was the only press release. And it’s easy to see how it could have been missed in the busy holiday season that comes a week before Labor Day. 

The entire article was such a travesty that the Washington Post published an article just to tear it apart. So, of course, The Hill’s insta-scandal became the standard text for Republicans wanting to claim legitimacy (and netted Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack some nice air time on Fox).

Now, as Donald Trump skates away saying he’s not planning to fire Robert Mueller, it’s clear that Republicans are doing everything they can to see he doesn’t have to. Were Trump to conduct his own Saturday Night Massacre, it might result in a constitutional crisis sufficient that even Paul Ryan would have to shuffle around in drawers to see where he left his spine.

To head off that horrible possibility, Republicans are undermining Mueller with their own “secret” investigation of the investigation, and Jefferson Sessions is launching the warm-up round for creating a second special counsel whose entire job would consist of allowing Republicans to say “Mueller can’t run one investigation while he’s the subject of another.”

Republicans are out to save Trump from a Saturday Night Massacre, by doing the killing for him. And Sessions just broke out the knives.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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