WASHINGTON – What began as an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election has now become a probe into how federal law enforcement conspired to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has expanded its investigation that began with claims of Russian collusion and a fraudulent memo paid for by Trump opponents to one that focuses on members of federal law enforcement – both in the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI – and how they actively worked against the Trump campaign and the eventual Trump presidency.
In a startling turnabout, committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is accusing the Justice Department and the FBI of misleading him in “a pattern of behavior that can no longer be tolerated.” He charges that Justice claimed it possesses no documents related to the infamous Trump dossier, then, under pressure, produced “numerous” such papers.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is already opposing the move, even though he and other Democrats have conceded recently that finding a Russia-Trump conspiracy has produced no real evidence.
Nunes has put in place what amounts to a separate investigation of the FBI and the Justice Department hierarchy.
According to reports, the major components are:
- Fusion GPS, the opposition research company that prepared the bogus Trump-Russia dossier with money from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
- How the FBI allowed that dossier to fuel investigations since July 2016.
- Investigative bias that has been discovered regarding several key investigators.
A key subpoenaed witness is David Kramer, an associate of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Kramer is one of the few people known to have possessed a hard copy of the dossier. McCain asked Kramer to represent him at a Nov. 28, 2016, meeting with Christopher Steele in Surrey, England. Steele compiled the 35 pages of memos making up the dossier based on his paid Kremlin sources.
Kramer then obtained a copy of the dossier from Fusion GPS and McCain hand-delivered a copy to then-FBI director James B. Comey in December 2016.
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According to an interview in Mother Jones magazine, Steele said he supplied his memos accusing Trump of a Russia conspiracy to the FBI in “early July” 2016. Comey has testified he began the counterintelligence investigation in “late July.” The memos accused the Trump team of a conspiracy with the Kremlin to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Nunes wants more information on how the bureau used the document to investigate Trump people. He has been unsuccessfully trying to gain access to FBI documents.
In a Dec. 28 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Nunes said the Department of Justice at first said dossier-related FBI interview summaries, known as 302s, “did not exist.” Weeks later, under an Aug. 24 subpoena, DOJ suddenly located “numerous FD-302s pertaining to the Steele dossier, thereby rendering the initial response disingenuous at best,” the House intel committee chief wrote.
Based on the record of stonewalling, Nunes said the committee no longer can accept Justice’s position that it cannot turn over other official investigative forms, called 1032s. They document meetings between the FBI and confidential human sources.
He gave the Justice Department until Wednesday to comply with his requests.
“Unfortunately, DOJ/FBI’s intransigence with respect to the August 24 subpoenas is part of a broader pattern of behavior that can no longer be tolerated,” Nunes wrote. “At this point, it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.”