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 - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Trump's tax returns — DOJ trying to put off the inevitable? GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE on Tuesday, Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: S&P hits record as stocks rally on Fed cut hopes | Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics | Internal IRS watchdog rips agency's taxpayer service | Apple seeks tariff relief Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics Facebook's crypto experiment will languish on Capitol Hill MORE (D-Calif.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff would support impeachment if White House ignores a final court decision on documents, testimony US finds itself isolated in Iran conflict House Intelligence Committee to subpoena Trump associate Felix Sater MORE (D-Calif.) and Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial Parties unite to move Myanmar sanctions bill Lawmakers warn of 'grave situation' after drone shot down 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 ManafortREAD: Hannity, Manafort messages released by judge Manafort, Hannity talk Trump, Mueller in previously undisclosed messages FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE’s former campaign chairman who has been ensnared in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report 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.