Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) urged the Justice Department to remove a nondisclosure agreement preventing a confidential former FBI informant from testifying before Congress for the criminal probe into the Uranium One deal.
DeSantis, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in an interview on Fox News on Sunday that he has spoken with the informant who “helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme,” leading to bombshell reports about an Obama-era deal allowing a Russian-backed company to purchase a uranium firm that controls mines in the U.S. At the time of the deal, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state, and several investors in Uranium One were Clinton Foundation donors and had ties to her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
"I've been able to speak with the confidential informant that helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme. I've spoken with his attorney, and this informant wants to tell his story," DeSantis told Fox News' Leland Vittert. "But he's currently under a non-disclosure agreement that was signed with the Eric Holder Justice Department."
Noting that the informant "came forward" in 2016 but "was threatened with reprisal" from former Attorney General Loretta Lynch's Justice Department, DeSantis said the public deserves to know what happened.
"Clearly it's ... in the public's interest that this individual be able to tell this story to Congress. Because what you have, Leland, is you have the money that went to Bill Clinton for the speech, the half a million dollars, millions of dollars to the foundation from sources connected with Uranium One, and then you have the approval of the deal on the [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] CFIUS board, which Hillary Clinton was a member of in 2010," DeSantis said.
"So you do have the quid, you have the quo," the Florida congressman continued. "This informant, I believe, would be able to link those two together because he was right at the heart of a lot of what was going on at the time."
The Hill released a report Thursday citing government records indicating that Bill Clinton, "as he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010" for a speech, "sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration's approval for a controversial uranium deal."
On the day that report surfaced, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to blast the media for failing to give the Clintons' Russia-related revelations as much attention as they give anything Russian-related that pertains to Trump and the 2016 presidential election.
"Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!" Trump tweeted.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised Monday that the Justice Department would be reviewing allegations that the Obama administration knew about the bribery and money-laundering allegations.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded Thursday that the Justice Department lift the nondisclosure agreement preventing a confidential former FBI informant from testifying before Congress about the reports of Russia's bribery, extortion, and money-laundering attempts to wield significant influence in the U.S. through the Uranium One deal.
"The executive branch does not have the authority to use nondisclosure agreements to avoid congressional scrutiny," Grassley wrote Thursday. "If the FBI is allowed to contract itself out of congressional oversight, it would seriously undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances. The Justice Department needs to work with the committee to ensure that witnesses are free to speak without fear, intimidation, or retaliation from law enforcement."
DeSantis echoed those calls Sunday as the House launches its own investigation.
"Everything the confidential informant was giving to the authorities, none of that was produced to Congress or to the CFIUS board before the Uranium One deal was approved," DeSantis said. "I don't know why that was the case, but it's very odd that that was the case, because clearly this was an individual who was knee-deep in uncovering a massive racketeering scheme involving this deal."
"So what [the informant] will be able to provide, I believe, just reading between the lines, is that he was involved with these Russian agents, and the Russian agents from the very beginning were interested in the Clintons and really believed that the Clintons would be their pathway to doing this deal," DeSantis continued. "And obviously there was a lot of money that exchanged hands in the intervening time period. So this is somebody who was involved with these people, I think, would be able to testify both of what they said and of what they did."
U.S. politicians and pundits "talk so much about Russia," DeSantis noted, but failed to allot the same level of attention to the scandal in question.
"If there was somehow a reasonable explanation for this, fine. Let the American people see that. But I think it's very odd that none of this would have come out prior to the approval of that deal in 2010," DeSantis said. "This was critical information that those CFIUS board members — including Secretary Clinton — needed to have before approving this deal."
Noting that he had spoken with House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), DeSantis said "he believes this is an important issue" and won't hinder a House investigation. The Oversight Committee experienced a setback when it sought to investigate the Clinton Foundation and payments pertaining to the Clintons during Congress' last session, DeSantis said, and House leadership rebuffed the investigation.
But in this case, "I think you are going to see action," he predicted.
"Well, now, I think that this information is so explosive that there's no way you can justify not getting all the information on this," DeSantis said. "Remember, we have three Russian investigations about Trump and Russia — there's not been any evidence of collusion. Here there's a lot of evidence, and this stuff needs to be vetted thoroughly."
Last Modified: October 22, 2017, 10:03 pm