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 MnuchinOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Trump says he's sanctioning Iran's national bank Lawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills MORE on Tuesday, Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTimeline: The Trump whistleblower complaint Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Trump asked Ukraine president to investigate Biden's son eight times in one phone call: reports MORE (D-Calif.) and Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse chairman reaches deal on classified briefing with Trump's Afghanistan negotiator Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine House chairman subpoenas Trump's Afghanistan negotiator 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ManafortUkraine could badly damage both Donald Trump and the Democrats Lewandowski refuses to say whether Trump has offered him a pardon Democrats return to a battered Trump MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE’s former campaign chairman who has been ensnared in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation 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.