Published October 26, 2017
The directive for the Justice Department to lift a "gag order" on a former FBI informant involved in a high-profile Russia bribery case came from President Trump himself, a source told Fox News.
On Wednesday night, the DOJ announced it had cleared the individual to speak to Congress about Moscow’s Obama-era uranium deals in the U.S. market and other schemes.
A source said the order to release the confidential informant came directly from Trump -- though who actually made the final call is unclear. One well-placed source familiar with the decision-making process pushed back, saying the decision was made entirely by senior officials inside the DOJ.
GOP lawmakers specifically want to hear what the informant knows about how a controversial uranium deal with a Russian firm was OK'd in 2010 despite the fact the FBI for months had been probing a subsidiary in the bribery case -- and what, if any, efforts were made to influence the Obama administration and the Clintons.
In a statement, the department said it had authorized the informant to speak to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in addition to select staffers.
The department said the informant could provide “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,” including Russian company Rosatom, subsidiary Tenex, Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation.
Uranium One refers to the name of a Canada-based company with mines in the U.S. that was bought by Rosatom, a company backed by the Russian state. The State Department, then led by Hillary Clinton, was one of nine U.S. government agencies that had to approve the deal back in 2010.
All three congressional committees launched investigations after The Hill reported that the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear officials were involved in fraudulent dealings – including extortion, bribery and kickbacks – as far back as 2009 in a case involving Rosatom’s subsidiary, Tenex. Congressional Republicans have since questioned how the Uranium One deal was approved the following year by an inter-agency committee, and sought to gain access to the informant.
Republicans also have raised concerns about efforts by interested parties to influence the Clintons – citing donations to the Clinton Foundation as well as a $500,000 speaking fee received in Russia by former President Bill Clinton, who reportedly met with Vladimir Putin around the time of the deal.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who had sought to interview the informant, told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday he’d still like to bring the source before a public committee hearing but praised the decision to free him up to speak to Congress in a private setting.
“We ought to know about [what he knows], because transparency brings accountability,” Grassley said.
Grassley had written in letters to federal agencies that he’s not “convinced” by previous “assurances” that there were no unresolved national security concerns in the 2010 approval.
The informant's attorney, Victoria Toensing, told Fox Business Network Monday that her client can "tell what all the Russians were talking about during the time that all these bribery payments were made." The informant earlier was prevented from testifying by former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, according to Toensing, after having signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.