Political News

Wyden blocking Treasury nominee until he gets Russia papers

Posted May 10

— The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee said Wednesday that he's blocking the nominee for a top Treasury post until the department delivers documents and other information related to Russia and its financial dealings with President Donald Trump and his associates.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said the office that President Donald Trump has nominated Sigal Mandelker to lead — the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence — has the information his committee wants.

"I have stated repeatedly that we have to follow the money if we are going to get to the bottom of how Russia has attacked our democracy," Wyden said. "That means thoroughly review any information that relates to financial connections between Russia and President Trump and his associates, whether direct or laundered through hidden or illicit transactions."

A White House spokeswoman accused Senate Democrats of using any excuse to delay Senate confirmation of Trump's nominees.

"It's unfortunate that they're willing to play political games with a law enforcement post that is typically handled without this kind of partisan maneuvering," said spokeswoman Natalie Strom. "We still fully expect Ms. Mandelker to be confirmed soon." The Treasury Department had no immediate comment.

The Senate Finance Committee oversees much of the Treasury Department. The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence combats financial crimes and threats, including money laundering.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said he has asked the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is the Treasury Department's criminal investigation division, for any information relevant to Trump, his top aides and campaign officials.

The Senate intelligence committee is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Trump associates and the Russian government. U.S. intelligence agencies have asserted that Russia interfered in the election in attempt to boost Trump's chances of winning.

Wyden's announcement came as the White House still hasn't released a letter that press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday was being sent to Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham told CNN on Tuesday that he wants to explore possible ties between Trump's businesses and Russia. The South Carolina Republican chairs a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that is also looking into Russia's role in the presidential election.

Spicer said Tuesday that Trump has asked a Washington law firm to send a certified letter to Graham stating that Trump has no connections to Russia. But the White House had not released the letter as of Wednesday, despite multiple queries and after saying Tuesday that the letter would be made public.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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