John wrote here about the blockbuster story of how, before the Obama administration approved a 2010 deal giving Russia control of a substantial portion of American uranium, the FBI had gathered evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering designed to promote Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy interests in the U.S. As part of this effort, Russian nuclear officials routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit the Clinton Foundation during the time when Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow
Now, John Solomon and Alison Spann of The Hill report that an American businessman who worked undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions. According to the confidential witnesses attorney, Victoria Toensing, he was contacted by congressional committees seeking information about what he witnessed inside the Russian nuclear industry, but told by the Justice Department that he couldn’t provide this information because of a non-disclosure agreement he signed. That agreement apparently provided that he could not disclose anything that he learned in the course of his work for the FBI.
I haven’t researched the issue, nor have I seen the non-disclosure agreement. However, it seems to me that, as a general matter, a non-disclosure agreement that bars someone from testifying before Congress on a matter of national security concern is contrary to public policy and thus not enforceable. In addition, constitutional issues may be raised when the executive branch tries, by invoking an employment contract, to prevent somebody from giving information to the legislative branch.
However, threatening a potential witness with criminal prosecution based on a non-disclosure agreement, as the Obama Justice Department allegedly did in this case, would tend to discourage an individual from testifying. It seems to have done so here.
If Toensing’s reported characterization of her client’s potential testimony is accurate, one can understand why the Obama Justice Department would want to suppress it. Reportedly, that testimony would include allegations that Russian executives made to the undercover witness about how they facilitated the Obama administration’s 2010 approval of the Uranium One deal and sent millions of dollars in Russian nuclear funds to the U.S. to an entity assisting Bill Clinton’s foundation. It would also include allegations that FBI agents made comments to the witness suggesting political pressure was exerted during the Justice Department probe of the Russia corruption case and that there was specific evidence that could have scuttled approval of the Uranium One deal had it become public.
John has reminded us that Robert Mueller, James Comey, and Rod Rosenstein all were involved at one time or another in this Justice Department probe.
Toensing’s client may finally talk to Congress. Sara Carter reports that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley has sent Toensing a letter requesting that her client testify before his committee regarding kickbacks and bribes by the Russia’s state controlled nuclear company and the FBI’s investigation thereof.
Grassley’s letter states:
Reporting indicates that ‘the informant’s work was crucial to the government’s ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U.S. soil’ and that the scheme involved ‘bribery, kickbacks, money laundering, and extortion.’
Further, the reporting indicates that your client can testify that ‘FBI agents made comments to him suggesting political pressure was exerted during the Justice Department probe’ and ‘that there was specific evidence that could have scuttled approval of the Uranium One deal.’ It appears that your client possesses unique information about the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction and how the Justice Department handled the criminal investigation into the Russian criminal conspiracy.
Such information is critical to the Committee’s oversight of the Justice Department and its ongoing inquiry into the manner in which CFIUS approved the transaction. Accordingly, the Committee requests to interview your client.
This letter should pave the way for the witness to talk Grassley’s committee notwithstanding the non-disclosure agreement, even assuming that the Trump Justice Department invokes that agreement against him. It shouldn’t come to that, though. There is no good reason why the Trump administration should run interference for the last administration on this matter.