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 MnuchinHillicon Valley: Facebook weighs crackdown on anti-vaccine content | Lyft challenges Trump fuel standards rollback | Illinois tries to woo Amazon | New round of China trade talks next week On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week Treasury sanctions top Maduro allies in Venezuela MORE on Tuesday, Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Lawmakers closing in on border deal | Dems build case for Trump tax returns | Trump, Xi won't meet before trade deadline | Waters in talks with Mnuchin for testimony Waters in talks with Mnuchin for testimony on lifting of sanctions on Russian firms Fox's Kilmeade: Why doesn't Trump investigate personal finances of Schiff and Waters? MORE (D-Calif.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Hillicon Valley: Facebook weighs crackdown on anti-vaccine content | Lyft challenges Trump fuel standards rollback | Illinois tries to woo Amazon | New round of China trade talks next week Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union MORE (D-Calif.) and Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelCuba says US secretly moving special forces closer to Venezuela House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen Foreign Affairs chairman: US military intervention in Venezuela 'not an option' 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 ManafortMueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears CNN's Toobin: 'Almost unrecognizable' Manafort 'in danger of losing his life' in prison MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE’s former campaign chairman who has been ensnared in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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.