US Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon) on Wednesday placed a hold on the nomination of Sigal Mandelker to be Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Wyden said he will maintain that hold until the Treasury Department provides the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Finance Committee information and documents related to Russia and its financial dealings with President Trump and his associates. On Tuesday, May 9, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner announced that the Committee had made a request to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
“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. The office which Ms. Mandelker has been nominated to head is responsible for much of this information.”
Wyden is the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees much of the Treasury Department. The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence marshals the Treasury Department’s intelligence and enforcement functions to combat financial crimes and threats, including money laundering. Senator Warner has stated that he is withholding his support for Ms. Mandelker until the documents requested by the Intelligence Committee have been provided.
Relatedly, with regard to the Trump Administration’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Wyden said that he has “long been a critic of Director Comey, for his views about surveillance and torture, his stance on secret law and his conduct during the investigation into Secretary Clinton.”
Nevertheless, Wyden said President Trump’s decision “to fire him now, in the midst of an investigation into Trump associates and their ties to Russia, is outrageous.”
Wyden called for Comey to be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of the investigation into Russia and Trump associates at the time he was fired.
“There can be no question that a fully independent special counsel must be appointed to lead this investigation. At this point, no one in Trump’s chain of command can be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation,” Wyden said.
Oregon Senate colleague Jeff Merkley mirrored those comments.
“Trump’s explanation for firing Comey is as phony as a three-dollar bill. Trump’s pattern of firing people who are investigating him is downright Nixonian, and Members of Congress of both parties should treat it with the same gravity that our predecessors did during Watergate,” Merkley said.