Democrat: Judiciary Committee must focus on Trump’s possible obstruction of justice

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday claimed President Trump is trying to deflect attention from the ongoing investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible obstruction of justice by calling attention to the new scrutiny of the 2010 Uranium One deal.

"The president has done everything he can — calling the investigation a hoax, bringing distracting issues to deflect attention from the potential obstruction of justice by his administration and possibly by himself into the investigation on Russian meddling, and Trump's alleged collusion with that meddling," Blumenthal said Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

ADVERTISEMENT

Blumenthal, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, said his panel should be focused on looking into whether Trump obstructed justice during these events, adding that special counsel Robert Mueller "presumably" is looking at that possibility, too.

Blumenthal's remarks come shortly after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyAdvocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform Trump drug pricing setbacks put pressure on Congress Hillicon Valley: Trump rails against 'terrible bias' at White House social media summit | Twitter hit by hour-long outage | Google admits workers listen to smart device recordings MORE (R-Iowa) in a tweet called on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the deal that gave a Russian-owned company partial control of U.S. atomic energy resources in 2010.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced last week that it was opening an inquiry into the Obama-era Uranium One deal.

The Republican leaders who oversee the House Oversight and Intelligence panels on Tuesday also announced a joint investigation that will look into how the Justice Department handled the deal.

Trump on Wednesday likened the new probe into the deal to the Watergate scandal in the Nixon administration.

“The uranium sale to Russia and the way it was done was so underhanded. With tremendous amounts of money being passed, I actually think that’s Watergate: modern age,” Trump told reporters.

The new scrutiny of the matter comes after The Hill reported Sunday that the FBI had been leading a criminal investigation into allegations that the Russians used racketeering and other corrupt schemes to influence the American nuclear industry during the time the uranium deal was in the process of being approved.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the panel has “been looking into this for a while now,” but the report ultimately convinced them to open a formal inquiry.

"One of the things that you know we're concerned about is whether or not there was an FBI investigation," Nunes said. "Was there a [Department of Justice] investigation?  If so, why was Congress not informed of this matter?"

Blumenthal said he is not sure what "additional facts" Nunes "may have to justify this investigative effort."

"I think our focus must be on obstruction of justice because we have oversight responsibility over the FBI and the Department of Justice," he added.