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Offbeat Senate confirms Justice Department nominee with ties to Russian bank

23:26  11 july  2018
23:26  11 july  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Justice 's Criminal Division. The New York Times first reported that Benczkowski represented the bank , one of Russia 's largest with ties to President Vladimir Putin.

A group of U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they would oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Justice Department ’s criminal division over his ties to a Russian bank allied with the Kremlin.

brian benczkowski russian bank alpha representation senate hearing bts_00005609.jpg © Provided by CNN brian benczkowski russian bank alpha representation senate hearing bts_00005609.jpg

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Brian Benczkowski to lead the Justice Department's criminal division on a near party-line vote over Democratic objections to his nomination due to ties to a prominent Russian bank.

The Senate confirmed Benczkowski 51-48. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote yes.

Benczkowski's nomination was controversial because of his work for Alfa Bank, which has been scrutinized by FBI counterintelligence. Benczkowski, a former lead staffer to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate and a Trump transition official, has faced criticism from Democrats since he was nominated last year over his past private-practice work on behalf of Alfa Bank, one of Russia's largest financial institutions.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they would oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Justice Department ’s criminal division over his ties to a Russian bank allied with the Kremlin.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they would oppose President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Justice Department 's criminal division over his ties to a Russian bank allied with the Kremlin.

All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in May called on President Donald Trump to pull his nomination.

In a statement Tuesday night, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, lamented Benczkowski's refusal to recuse himself permanently from matters involving the ongoing Mueller probe, saying his nomination presented "glaring conflicts of interest."

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said in a tweet Tuesday that "the warning signs are clear" about Benczkowski. And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, in a floor speech called out his "astoundingly weak qualifications," positing that Benczkowski's close ties to Sessions and the administration could be leveraged to stymie the ongoing Mueller probe or create a backchannel for improper information sharing.

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nomination of top Justice Department nominee with ties to Russian bank . to lead the Justice Department 's criminal division in light of his previous representation of a Russian bank and only two of the seven litigating components at the Justice Department have Senate - confirmed leaders.

President Trump’s nominee to run the Justice Department ’s criminal division, Brian A. Benczkowski, has disclosed that he did work for the bank , whose owners have ties to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.CreditAndrey Rudakov/Bloomberg.

Questions surrounding Alfa Bank first arose in 2016 when a group of computer scientists raised concerns about Internet records that showed that Alfa Bank servers repeatedly looked up the unique internet address of a Trump Organization computer server in the United States. Authorities never alleged any wrongdoing, and Alfa Bank denied any misconduct.

Benczkowski was nominated last year and was voted out of committee along party lines, but a Senate floor vote to confirm him lingered for months.

At his confirmation hearing last year, Benczkowski said he would initially recuse himself from anything involving Alfa Bank.

"I would be recused from any matter involving Alfa Bank for the first two years of my tenure in the department if I'm fortunate enough to be confirmed," Benczkowski said. "With respect to this particular matter, this investigation that we conducted for Alfa Bank, if the subject matter of that investigation in some way comes before me in the criminal division at any point in my tenure I want to be clear, I will recuse from that completely."

Russian national indicted on two charges, including acting as a foreign agent .
A federal grand jury formally approved a criminal indictment of Maria Butina with two charges, conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. Butina will appear at a hearing Wednesday in Washington, DC, following the news Monday that the Department of Justice was charging Butina with one charge of conspiracy, but had not yet gone to grand jury.Butina is a Russian national and gun rights activist who was arrested Sunday and is facing criminal charges for acting as a foreign agent in the US.

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