Hillary Clinton says that if President Donald Trump’s threats to prosecute her over the Uranium One deal are fulfilled it will signal America’s slide into authoritarianism.
“I regret deeply that this appears to be the politicization of the Justice Department and our justice system,” Clinton told Mother Jones during an interview Wednesday. “Taking myself out of it—this is such an abuse of power. And it goes right at the rule of law.”
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman early this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote that the Justice Department is looking at whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump’s 2016 election rival.
“I’m not concerned, because I know that there is no basis to it,” Clinton said of the potential investigation. “I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step to politicizing the justice system. And at the end of the day, nothing will come of it, but it will, you know, cause a lot of terrible consequences that we might live with for a really long time.”
Trump and Republicans contend the Clinton Foundation got $145 million in kickbacks from investors in the company Uranium One and approved the deal while an FBI investigation into a subsidiary of the buyers—Russian’s state atomic energy company Rosatom—was ongoing.
There is no evidence so far to support these claims as the 2009 sale of Uranium One was approved by a nine-agency panel that wasn’t controlled by Clinton.
In an opinion piece for Fox News this week, members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate Clinton or “step down.”
Pundits on the network have repeatedly promoted the theory that Clinton controlled the sale and have called for her to be investigated.
Yet the network’s news anchor Shep Smith took apart the accusations on Tuesday in a six minute segment dismantling the conspiracy theory. “The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia,” Smith said.
He pointed out that $131 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation that are part of the accusations were given by one man, Frank Giustra, the founder of Uranium One, who sold his stake in the company in 2007—years before Clinton became secretary of state.
“This Uranium One story has been debunked countless times by members of the press, by independent experts. It is nothing but a false charge that the Trump administration is trying to drum up to avoid attention being drawn to them,” Clinton said.
Trump has pressed for an investigation of Clinton in recent weeks as his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted on charges of money laundering. Manafort’s arrest came as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to interfere in the election.
A day before Manafort’s arrest, Trump said that the approval of the uranium sale is just one reason why Clinton should be investigated and, in a tweet, urged Republicans to “DO SOMETHING!”
Clinton suggested that if the Justice Department moves ahead with an investigation it would be “a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, some authoritarian regime where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated.” That would taint the American public’s trust in the justice system, she said.
“It will also send a terrible signal to our country and the world that somehow we are giving up on the kind of values we used to live by and that we used to promote worldwide,” Clinton added.