House also probing Obama-era Uranium One deal, DeSantis says

The House Oversight committee has started looking into an Obama-era deal in which a Russian-backed company bought a uranium firm with mines in the U.S., Rep. Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Sunday, adding that he’s spoken with the federal government’s “confidential informant” on the matter.

The uranium agreement was reached while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, and some investors in the Russian-backed company, Uranium One, had relationships with former President Bill Clinton and donated to the Clinton Foundation.

“I’ve spoken with the confidential informant that helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme,” DeSantis, R-Fla., a member of the oversight committee, told “America’s News Headquarters.” “Clearly, it’s in the public’s interest that this individual be able to tell his story to Congress.”

When asked by Fox News if a criminal investigation would be coming, DeSantis responded: “It could be criminal.” He cited statutes of limitations that may limit prosecutions of any crimes that may arise from the 2010 deal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week said it started an investigation into the matter, including whether federal agencies knew the FBI was looking into possible corruption before the deal was approved.

In addition, Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley, the committee chairman, has requested the Justice Department lift a non-disclosure agreement that a former FBI confidential informant said prevents him from speaking to Congress about the handling of a criminal probe linked to the deal.

Grassley said the Justice Department had threatened to prosecute the informant if he disclosed details of his involvement in the investigation.

DeSantis said Sunday the informant to whom he spoke signed his original non-disclosure deal with Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder and was “threatened with reprisal” by the Justice Department under Attorney General Loretta Lynch when he tried to “come forward” in 2016.

DeSantis also said he has spoken with the informant’s attorney, but it’s unclear whether the informant is the same one to whom Grassley has referred.

The House Oversight Committee doesn’t appear to have announced officially that it has opened a probe or more formal investigation. Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., could not be reached Sunday for comment.

“I have spoken with Chairman Gowdy. He believes that this is an important issue and he has indicated to me that he is supportive of what we are doing. So, I think you are going to see action,” DeSantis added.

President Trump said last week that media outlets have failed to cover the purchase of American uranium mines by the Russian-backed company adequately, as most recently reported by The Hill.

The Senate committee launched its probe after the series of Hill stories, which showed the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear officials were involved in fraudulent dealings in 2009 before the uranium deal was approved.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump frequently cited the deal for the uranium, which is used in nuclear reactors, and has returned to the issue at rallies during his presidency.

Clinton's State Department was one of nine U.S. government agencies that had to approve the deal. But Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and former State department officials have said she was not involved in the approval process by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS.

Republicans have also pointed to some of the investors in the deal and their ties to the former president. Canadian financier Frank Giustra, a top Clinton Foundation donor, sold his company, UrAsia Energy, to Uranium One, which was chaired by Ian Telfer, also a Clinton Foundation donor.

Giustra has said he sold his stake in the deal in 2007, while Clinton and Barack Obama were vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And PolitiFact found that most of the donations from individuals related to Uranium One and UrAsia Energy were made before and during Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign — before she became secretary of state.

Fox News' Leland Vittert, Joseph Weber and The Associated Press contributed to this story.