by MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT · November 13, 2017
The Shootaring Canyon uranium mill in the desert outside Ticaboo, Utah, last month. George Frey/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — Ten days after President Trump said that he was frustrated with the Justice Department for not investigating Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, the Justice Department told Congress on Monday that senior prosecutors were looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate them.
The prosecutors will examine reports of misconduct at the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration’s 2010 decision to allow a Russian nuclear energy agency to acquire much of the United States’ uranium, among other matters, according to a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee from a senior Justice Department official on Monday.
“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit a special counsel,” said the senior official, Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions this month in New York. Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
The decision to examine those matters raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the special counsel’s investigation into his presidential campaign. It also comes at a tenuous time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Mr. Trump has hinted to advisers he may want to fire. People close to the White House believe Mr. Sessions can stop the president from firing him by appointing a special counsel to investigate the uranium deal. Before leaving for a trip to Asia this month, Mr. Trump expressed his frustration with the Justice Department.
“I’m really not involved with the Justice Department,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I’d like to let it run itself.”
“But, honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats,” Mr. Trump said.
He added: “And a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”
As the special counsel’s investigation into Mr. Trump and his associates has intensified in recent weeks, Mr. Trump has asked allies and advisers why the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is not investigating the Uranium One case, according to a person familiar with the president’s discussions on the matter. The allies and advisers have told Mr. Trump that Mr. Mueller’s purview is only to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the person said. In response, Mr. Trump has said that the Uranium One relates to Russia.
Michael S. Schmidt reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.