Dems demand records from Mnuchin on lifting sanctions on Deripaska-tied firms

Dems demand records from Mnuchin on lifting sanctions on Deripaska-tied firms
© Anna Moneymaker

Three top House Democrats have formally requested documents related to the Trump administration’s decision to lift sanctions on companies connected to a prominent Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Bloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law MORE on Tuesday, Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters: Gang members have 'more integrity' than 'street player' Trump Maxine Waters blasts Trump as 'mafia boss' over Stone case Democrats highlight lack of diversity at major banks in new report MORE (D-Calif.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPelosi blasts Trump's 'dangerous' pick for intelligence chief Sanders says he was briefed on Russian effort to help campaign Trump: Democrats 'trying to start a rumor' about 2020 Russian interference MORE (D-Calif.) and Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Army says it isn't investigating Vindman | White House outlines legal justification for Soleimani strike | Service member dies in Africa Trump administration outlines legal justification for Soleimani strike Pompeo to testify on Iran in February MORE (D-N.Y.) asked for documents pertaining to the administration's decision to remove three companies previously controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska from a list of sanctioned firms. They described the terms of the agreement under which Treasury agreed to lift the sanctions as “unusual” and alleged that “many questions remain unanswered.”

The sanctions were initially imposed on the firms under a law aimed at punishing Russia for interfering in the 2016 election as a result of Deripaska’s connections to Putin.

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The administration announced in December that it would lift the sanctions on Deripaska’s aluminum company, United Co. Rusal, as well as En+ Group plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo, after Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership stake in each of the companies to below 50 percent.

The Treasury Department officially lifted the sanctions on Sunday.

The Democrats alleged Tuesday that, under the terms of the agreement, “Mr. Deripaska’s ownership stake, as well as benefits afforded to his associates, family members, and related entities, appears designed to allow him to retain significant influence, if not defacto control, over En+, Rusal, and ESE.”

The letter cites Deripaska’s close association with Putin as well as his ties to Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFree Roger Stone Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr Maxine Waters blasts Trump as 'mafia boss' over Stone case MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Gov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump Sotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administration MORE’s former campaign chairman who has been ensnared in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s investigation into Russian interference.

The lawmakers demanded copies of all documents relevant to the decision making process, “regardless of classification.” These include intelligence reporting, records, meeting minutes and agendas, electronic communications, memos, or other correspondence that discusses Deripaska and the decision to delist his firms. 

Tuesday’s letter represents the latest effort by House Democrats to leverage their new oversight powers to squeeze more information from the administration about the decision. Democrats hauled Mnuchin in to testify behind closed doors about the decision earlier this month, before the sanctions were formally lifted. 

Waters, Schiff and Engel chair the House Financial Services, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees, respectively.

They requested a response by Feb. 5.