Jeb Hensarling is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, succeeding Hugh’s guest host today, John Campbell. Part of the oversight of this committee includes CFIUS review – the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Here is that that interview, and why Hillary Clinton may have to spend a little more time on the Hill under oath than previously thought.
JC: This is former Congressman John Campbell who did escape the swamp, but still in that swamp is my guest this segment, Congressman Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the Financial Services Committee from the Lone Star State. Welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show, Jeb Hensarling.
JH: John, thanks for having me, but you were far too happy when you used the word former in front of Congressman.
JC: (laughing) Well, there is a little bit of joy there for me now. But I knew when I left that I was leaving things in capable hands, which include yours. So what I wanted to ask you about today was there’s more information just came out today about the Clinton foundation and another $55 million dollars of unreported gifts. This is not according to the right wing conspiracy. This is according to the Boston Globe and the New York Times. But some of this came out last week was about a Russian acquisition of U.S. uranium interests which has to go through a process called CFIUS, which stands for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. And it went through that process, that particular approval of Russians buying uranium in the United States back when Barney Frank had the gavel that you now hold as chairman of the Financial Services Committee. And the whole thing has a lot of clouds over it and doesn’t look very good. So Jeb Hensarling, what, you, the CFIUS process comes under the jurisdiction of your committee. What have you looked into this thing? What have you found out? What are you going to do, if anything, about it?
JH: Well, you yourself, John, know more about this than most others since it was within your subcommittee jurisdiction. But there is this agency that has to essentially approve the acquisition by foreign entities of U.S. strategic interest that could have national security concerns. And it just so happens again that the Department of State is a key member of this group called CFIUS, the Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S. As you know, we’re famous for acronyms in the Capitol. At the time, as you well put it, Barney Frank, a Democrat, was chairman of the committee. But the House Republicans protested at the time. We urged CFIUS not to approve the transaction that has led to Russia to control the lion’s share of uranium product, and as you well know, to control a fifth of the United States, our own American uranium production. So we protested at the time. Now all of a sudden, we have this information from the New York Times. We have this information from the Boston Globe, as you well put it, not exactly part of the vast right wing conspiracy that the Clintons like to complain about. So on the surface, it does not pass the smell test. And so CFIUS comes within the jurisdiction of the House Financial Services Committee. Just today, in fact, an hour ago, we have sent to CFIUS a letter demanding a relevant documents as part of an official discovery process.
JC: Now who do you, if I can interrupt you, when you say the CFIUS, who do actually send that to, since CFIUS…
JH: The chair of CFIUS is Treasury, so this letter goes to Secretary Jack Lew, secretary of Treasury.
JH: So Treasury is the lead agency. But State is also a key member. And again, I am leaping to no conclusions, but frankly, we would be negligent if we didn’t demand the documents. Now as you know, Congress does not have a direct approval or disapproval. This is power that has been granted to the executive branch. It is one that we have oversight, which as you well know, we get to review documents, sometimes, before the facts, frequently after the fact, ask the right questions in front of the klieg lights. But outside of that, it is a decision of the administration. And so we don’t know what took place at this Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S., and so we have demanded the relevant documents from the Secretary of Treasury. He heads up a number of different agencies, not just Treasury, CFIUS being one of them. And I’m anxiously awaiting the receipt of those documents. And then the House Financial Services Committee will begin to analyze and inspect those documents, and see where an investigation may or may not lead. Again, I don’t know what’s there. At this point, John, we are simply demanding the documents relevant to the decision that allowed Uranium One to be, well, essentially, to allow Russia and Putin to acquire one-fifth of uranium assets in the United States of America.
JC: Now when I was involved in CFIUS reviews, they were often times classified.
JC: And so the briefing I got, and all the information I got was in the room with all the doors shut and no Blackberries and all that kind of stuff, because it was all classified. I would expect that some of the, that some of the response you’re going to get is going to rise to that level as well, do you think, Jeb Hensarling?
JH: Well, indeed. And most likely, some of this information will be classified. Having said that, John, you and I both know that most of the time you go to one of these classified briefings, and everything you hear was either put on the news the day before or will soon appear on the day after.
JH: Having said that, a number of, some of this information could very well be classified. Now we’re already hearing from the Clinton camp that this did not rise to her level. And I’m sitting here thinking for somebody who wants to be president of the United States, Russia acquiring one-fifth of the uranium producing assets of the United States is not something that would rise to the level of the Secretary of State? So to me, that regardless of the questions of the millions of dollars that went into the Clinton Foundation, a half a million dollars for a speech, so you tell me what former members of Congress make for a speech. I suspect it’s not a half million dollar check from Canadian interests wanting to be acquired by a Russian company.
JC: Yeah, for this member of Congress, it’s been zero for the speeches I have given thus far, which have been a few.
JC: But so you’ll get some response, which may have information, may not, we’ll see. Could you potentially be holding hearings on this in the future depending on this response?
JH: You know, John, it is premature to say. At this point, we are simply demanding the documents relevant to this decision dating back to 2010 where CFIUS moved forward to allow, again, the Russian company to acquire Uranium One. Now Uranium One was a Canadian company. We could not have blocked that.
JH: But we could have caused a divestiture of the U.S. assets of the Canadian company, and the Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S. did not do that. And what I do know about CFIUS and what you know about this committees is that it operates by consent, and quite literally, under statute, an official, I don’t know if it was Clinton per se, but an official at State Department has to literally sign off in consent to the agreement. So somebody at the State Department consented to Russia and Putin acquiring one-fifth of our uranium assets basically at the same time that the Clinton Foundation was getting in millions of dollars from this Canadian interest that was acquired by the Russians who wanted the deal to go through. And all the while, Bill Clinton’s receiving a half million dollars speaking fee from a Russian bank also controlled ultimately, I believe, by Putin.
JC: Based on my experience, it would not be out of character for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and for this Treasury Department, to give you an answer that has no answer, to give you a non-answer. If you got that, Chairman Hensarling, then what?
JH: Well, I hope it doesn’t come down to this. I hope that they would be cooperative, although as history as my guide, I’m not holding my breath, then we would have to subpoena documents and potential subpoena witnesses. I have not always found this administration, let me be more blunt, this administration has not been cooperative, it has not has been transparent, so we’re going to give them an opportunity to cooperate. We certainly hope the relevant documents don’t sit on Hillary Clinton’s personal server. We know what happens to those emails. So I don’t know. It’s too premature, John, to say whether hearings will be warranted. Again, we’re at the first phase of our investigation, and we’ll see if either classified hearings or open hearings are demanded. But it’s a very serious matter, and you just question, forget about the aspects of potential quid pro quo and corruption, but again, what breach of duty and in the foreign, you know, in our homeland security and national defense implications of this transaction, which again, House Republicans, we were in the minority, we raised our voice, but we didn’t have the votes to do anything about it. We hope to get to the bottom of this. Clearly, this is new information, of the millions that were going to the Clinton Foundation that had been undisclosed and unreported at the same time that this transaction was going down. And right now, we’ve demanded all the documents relevant.
JC: And what I’m hearing from you, Chairman Hensarling, is you’re not going to let this go. Is that correct?
JH: I would say that the dog has the bumper in his mouth, and he will not let it go.
JC: Thank you very much, Chairman Hensarling. It’s been great to have you here on the Hugh Hewitt Show. I know this man, and when he says he’s not going to let hold of that bumper, he’s not going to let hold of that bumper.
End of interview.