Devin Nunes Says He's Pressing to Have AG Jeff Sessions Held in Contempt of Congress
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced on Sunday that he is going to press Congress to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a lawful subpoena. Nunes’ committee has been looking into allegations that the Justice Department and the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the FBI's counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
The California Republican explained on Fox and Friends this morning that his committee sent a classified letter to Sessions two weeks ago requesting "very important" information.
"Per usual, it was ignored. Not acknowledged -- just completely ignored," Nunes explained. "So last week, we sent a subpoena and then on Thursday we discovered that they are not going to comply with our subpoena [requesting] very important information we need." He added: "The only thing left to do is we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt and that is what I am going to press for this week."
Nunes told the Fox News hosts that the information his committee is seeking is still classified and that he is skeptical of that. "I'm not going to take any excuse ... [that] we're harming national security," he said.
Indeed, for the past year, the intelligence community has had a habit of classifying information sought by Republicans that did not reveal sources and methods, but did make the deep state look bad. Most recently, that came in the form of redactions in the House Intelligence Committee Republican report on the Trump-Russia investigation. Officials in the Justice Department had redacted portions of the transcript of the FBI's interview of President Trump's short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn. The redacted portions showed that FBI agents "did not detect any deception during [Michael] Flynn's interview,” in direct contradiction to what fired FBI director James Comey has been saying in interviews. The intelligence community also redacted portions of Nunes' FISA memo unnecessarily.
"How many times have we heard that argument throughout this entire investigation?" he asked. He complained that his committee has to fight for every piece of information it gets.
"We shouldn't have had to take Fusion GPS to court in order to find out that the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign had paid for the 'dirty dossier,'" the congressman noted dryly.
"The next step this week is, we will have to lay out, and we will probably have to go to court, in order to enforce this subpoena," he explained, adding that the committee has been in discussions with the general counsel for the United States Congress.
The Justice Department told CNN that it responded to Nunes' letter three days ago on the deadline, explaining that "providing the information on a specific individual could pose grave implications for national security."
"Disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities," wrote Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, who heads the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs.
This is exactly what Nunes was complaining about. "Severe consequences" to whom? National security or the reputations of the intelligence community?
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) expressed support for Nunes on Fox and Friends Sunday:
"I have deeper and deeper concerns the more I see some of this, not only the stonewalling, but what’s been in some of these memos," said Scalise. "We’re also trying to get a lot of other information from the Department of Justice about this investigation, and everything that we uncover raises even deeper concerns about the direction."
Nunes said that "this just cannot continue where we don't get information in a timely manner. Like I said, everything we have tried to get they tried to stop us from getting.” .