Trump administration misses Congress deadline to hand over documents on Russian oligarch sanctions

'They stiff-armed us,' House intelligence committee member says

Tom Embury-Dennis
Thursday 07 February 2019 14:34 GMT
State of the Union: Trump decries 'ridiculous partisan investigations'

The Trump administration has missed a deadline to hand over to Congress documents related to its decision to lift sanctions on businesses linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Maxine Waters, chair of the House financial services committee and a frequent target of Donald Trump’s ire, said the Treasury Department failed to meet a Tuesday deadline set by her and the chairmen of the chamber’s intelligence and foreign affairs committees.

“They stiff-armed us,” Jim Himes, a Democratic congressman who sits on the House intelligence committee, told Politico.

The request for documents came after the Treasury sparked bipartisan anger when it lifted sanctions against the business empire of Mr Deripaska, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

It said the companies - aluminium producer Rusal, its parent En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo - had agreed to its conditions for ending the penalties by reducing Mr Deripaska’s direct and indirect shareholding stake and severing his control.

The sanctions, imposed in April, were designed to punish Russia for its actions including its annexation of the Crimea from the Ukraine, efforts to interfere in the US elections and support for Syria’s government in its civil war.

Mr Deripaska remains personally subject to US sanctions.

Advocates for keeping them argued Mr Deripaska, who has been accused of links to organised crime, retained too much control over the companies.

Lawmakers from both parties also said it was inappropriate to ease the sanctions while special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.

Ms Waters said she was in talks with Treasury Steven Mnuchin over appearing before her committee to explain his department's decision.

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to get Mr Mnuchin into the committee and ask him real pointed questions about de-listing,” Ms Waters said.

Paul Ryan advocates sanctions on Russia: It is a 'menacing government'

The Treasury’s failure to hand over documents came the same day Mr Trump warned in his State of the Union speech against “ridiculous partisan investigations” that would prevent “peace and legislation”.

On Wednesday, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff dismissed those comments, announcing his panel would launch a probe into the US president’s foreign financial interests and possible links to Russia.

The Treasury Department has been contacted for comment.

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