Nearly a year after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives say they are opening new investigations into controversies linked to the challenger he defeated, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte and Oversight Committee chief Trey Gowdy said they would probe how the Federal Bureau of Investigation reached its conclusion that Clinton was "extremely careless" in her handling of classified material in emails while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, but that no criminal charges were warranted.
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes said he was opening an investigation into the complex 2013 sale of about 20 percent of the U.S. uranium assets to Russia at a time when Clinton's State Department was one of nine U.S. government agencies that reviewed foreign investments in the United States.
Clinton has on numerous occasions faulted herself for deciding to use a private email server based in her New York home while she served as the top U.S. diplomat.
But more recently she has cited the FBI's reopening of the email investigation less than two weeks before last November's election as one of the reasons Trump defied predictions and pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in American political history. Trump defeated her even though two days before Election Day, investigators said they had found nothing new in the email probe and again cleared her of wrongdoing.
Goodlatte and Gowdy, in announcing their probe, said "decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered" about the Clinton email investigation.
The lawmakers said they want to know why then FBI Director James Comey in July 2016 announced the agency's conclusion about the Clinton investigation, but never announced it also was investigating possible Trump campaign links to Russian interests. That criminal investigation is still going on, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, another former FBI chief who took over the probe after Trump fired Comey last May.
In addition, Goodlatte and Gowdy said they want to know why the FBI, rather than its parent agency, the Department of Justice, had discretion to make the decision to not charge Clinton. They also want to know the timeline of the FBI's decision-making.
The uranium company sale involves a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, the world charity run by Clinton, her husband, former President Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea. The businessman, Frank Giustra, sold his uranium company, UrAsia, in 2007, to another company, Uranium One, which in turn sold a majority stake in the company in 2010 to Russia's nuclear agency, Rosatom, which secured the U.S. mining rights four years ago.
"It's important to learn why that deal went through," said Republican Congressman Peter King of New York.
During the 2016 presidential race, Trump alleged that Clinton approved the transfer of 20 percent of U.S. uranium assets to Russia at the same time as business executives linked to the deal were donating money to the Clinton Foundation.
Two years ago, Clinton said, "I was not personally involved [in reviewing the sale] because that wasn't something the secretary of state did."
Last week, Trump, in a Twitter comment, accused the national news media in the U.S. of ignoring the controversy over the uranium sale, including Clinton's role and that of the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Some Democrats in the House said the two new probes are an attempt by Republicans to divert attention from investigations into Trump campaign links to Russia and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey at a time when he was heading the FBI's Russia investigation.