Mnuchin to brief House committee chiefs on sanctions relief decisions: report

Mnuchin to brief House committee chiefs on sanctions relief decisions: report

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Health Care: HHS chief refuses to testify on family separations | Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices | PhRMA spends record on lobbying in 2018 HHS chief refuses to testify on child separation policy Conservative groups press Trump to reduce capital gains taxes MORE has agreed to present lawmakers with a confidential briefing on Thursday concerning a plan to ease sanctions on businesses linked to Oleg Deripaska, a prominent Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Two high-level Democratic aides told NBC News on Wednesday that Mnuchin had agreed to the briefing, which comes after the chiefs of seven influential House committees urged the secretary to explain why the Trump administration was seeking to ease sanctions on businesses linked to Deripaska.

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Lawmakers argued in a letter to Mnuchin on Tuesday that Congress did not have sufficient time to review the sanctions plan before the partial government shutdown began late last month. The letter's signatories said the shutdown hinders their ability to request information on the subject.

"We request that you be available for a meeting with all interested Members, in an appropriate setting to allow for a full discussion of all aspects of the agreement, the sanctions termination and the impact these decisions would have on the U.S. effort to end Russia's malign activities aimed at our country," the Democratic committee chairs wrote.

Questions about Deripaska's ownership in the companies must be answered "in order to fully assess whether the U.S. agreement and the sanctions terminations are justified," the Democrats added in their letter.

Deripaska, who is reported to have been a business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortPavlich: Mueller’s indictment of the media Dem senator: 'Putin had something on' Trump which may account for 'plainly false' statements Debate builds over making Mueller report public MORE, was sanctioned, along with dozens of Russians, as punishment for attempting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In December, Mnuchin said Deripaska had worked to reduce his ownership stake in the companies, while warning that the companies would face "severe consequences" for failing to comply with U.S. regulations.

"[T]hese companies have committed to significantly diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control," Mnuchin said in December."The companies will be subject to ongoing compliance and will face severe consequences if they fail to comply."