In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes excoriated the Department of Justice and the FBI for failing to fully produce documents related to the anti-Trump dossier. “At this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves,” Nunes wrote in the letter obtained by Fox News.
According to Fox News, Nunes “expressed frustration that information and witnesses subpoenaed by the committee in August related to the so-called Steele dossier had not yet been turned over.” The dossier includes salacious and mostly unverified allegations about President Trump’s links to Russia — which he has denied.
“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,” the frustrated California Republican wrote to Rosenstein.
Nunes gave the them until Jan. 3 to provide all records and dates for witnesses to testify.
The chairman has become increasingly frustrated by the constant stonewalling. Late last month, he said he was considering contempt of Congress citations against the two agencies due to their failure to comply with lawful subpoenas.
In early December, when Nunes found out that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had removed anti-Trump FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok from the Russia collusion investigation in July over anti-Trump text messages, he was outraged. Nunes had been trying to coax out of the Bureau why Strzok had been demoted for months to no avail — yet someone from the FBI or DOJ apparently leaked the information to the New York Times and Washington Post.
Nunes reportedly “instructed committee staff to draw up a contempt of Congress citation for Rosenstein and for FBI Director Christopher Wray” and gave them until the end of December to meet all the committee’s outstanding demands — or else he would take action on the citations.
Nunes’ patience has apparently run out. “As a result of the numerous delays and discrepancies that have hampered the process of subpoena compliance, the committee no longer credits the representations made by DOJ and/or the FBI regarding these matters,” he said in Thursday’s letter.
The congressman went on to say that the DOJ’s initial response to the subpoenas was “disingenuous at best.”
According to Nunes, the DOJ told the House Intel Committee several weeks ago that the “basic investigatory documents demanded by the subpoenas…did not exist.”
“As it turns out, not only did documents exist that were directly responsive to the committee’s subpoenas, but they involved senior DOJ and FBI officials who were swiftly reassigned when their roles in matters under the committee’s investigation were brought to light,” Nunes wrote.
As Fox News reported earlier this month, “Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official, was demoted amid questions about his contacts with the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump dossier.”
A Mueller aide, Peter Strzok, a former FBI official, was also removed from the special counsel investigation after a number of anti-Trump texts were discovered on his phone.
Among the information being sought by the committee are reports that summarize meetings between FBI confidential human sources and FBI officials about the Steele dossier.
It also wants to interview DOJ and FBI officials, Ohr, Strzok, FBI Attorney James Baker, FBI Attorney Lisa Page, FBI Attorney Sally Moyer and FBI Assistant Director for Congressional Affairs Greg Brower.
Commenting on Nunes’ letter, Rep Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said that “we’ve asking for this stuff for months.”
“I think you’re going to see this dossier — when all is said and done — was basically a pile of garbage compiled by the president’s political opponents,” said Rep Ron DeSantis (R-FL) on Fox Business Thursday. He said that if the answers to the intel committee’s questions were that the FBI didn’t rely on the dossier, didn’t pay British spy Christopher Steele, and didn’t use it to get a FISA warrant, they could have answered the questions “in five minutes. ” The fact that they’re been stonewalling, he said, suggests that “the answers to those questions are not going to be comfortable for people both in the Bureau and in the Justice Department.”
He added that “that January 3rd deadline should be the last straw. If they don’t produce it I think Congress needs to act.” DeSantis suggested using the “inherent contempt process. ” He also suggested using the power of the purse to compel Rosenstein to cooperate. “There is nothing preventing us from putting restrictions on funding — you know — defunding Rosenstein’s travel budget,” DeSantis said, noting that an appropriations bill is coming up in a few weeks. “We want Congress to flex its muscle here,” he added. “It’s time for us to show that we actually have teeth in Article I.”
A steady stream of Republicans from the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees have blasted the Mueller investigation, the FBI and DOJ in media appearances in recent days.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AR), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Fox News Thursday that Mueller needs to end “the witch hunt.”
This is not “an open, fair, unbiased investigation,” he said. “This is an attempt to get to a result.”
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a former ambassador to the Vatican under President George W. Bush, was even more pointed in his remarks. During an interview Tuesday on MSNBC, Rooney said that the DOJ and FBI are “off the rails” and need to “purge” their ranks of corrupt Obama holdovers. He later clarified on Fox News that he wants to see Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the oversight committees “subpoena some people” and not get stonewalled.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) flatly said on Thursday that he wants to see Mueller fired from what he called a “sham of a Russia investigation.”
Rep. Ratcliffe (R-RX), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who questioned outgoing Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe last week, said Wednesday that he would like to call former FBI director James Comey and former attorney general Loretta Lynch back to the Hill to testify. “There’s a factual basis to bring them in and give them the opportunity to clear up what appear to be inconsistencies between the testimonies that they’ve previously given to members of Congress and the documents that have now surfaced,” he said.