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Tag: house intelligence commitee

Republicans Call for New Special Counsel to Probe FBI’s Surveillance of Trump Aide

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in November 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Two prominent House Republicans are urging Attorney General Sessions to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether the FBI improperly obtained a warrant to spy on former Trump aide Carter Page.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy pressured Sessions in a letter to appoint a special counsel to review Republican allegations that the FBI misled a federal judge to obtain a surveillance warrant for Page, a suspected Russian agent.

“We think this is a very serious matter regarding conduct by the FBI and by some in the Department of Justice that calls for the appointment of a special counsel who will have subpoena and prosecutorial powers,” Goodlatte told reporters in his Capitol office, Politico reports.

Democrats blasted the request as a diversion.

“These are blatant attempts to distract from and undermine the credibility of Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. “Where there is no crime, there is no criminal investigation for a second special counsel to manage.”

The House Intelligence Committee released a confidential, Republican-drafted memo last month, alleging abuse by the FBI. Democrats later disclosed a rebuttal memo, saying the bureau acted appropriately.

Trump Aide Hope Hicks to Meet with House Committee Investigating Russia’s Interference

President Trump at the White House, via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s longtime political aide Hope Hicks is scheduled to testify behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Hicks, the White House communications director who served as the spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign, is considered a key witness because of her longstanding relationship with the president and his family.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

It’s not yet clear when she will appear before the committee or what questions she will answer. Her scheduled appearance was first reported by CBS News

The Democrats’ top committee member said he’s hoping Hicks won’t “stonewall” the committee like other current and former White House workers who refused to answer questions.

“We hope obviously that she will be fully cooperative, but at this point I don’t know what we can expect, except that we expect her to come in soon and we hope that she will fully cooperate,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Monday.

Congressional Democrats to Meet with FBI Today Over Rebuttal Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Democrats are refusing to give up on their fight to publicly release a classified report that rebuts a much-disputed, Republican-drafted memo alleging the FBI and Justice Department had abused their surveillance powers to spy on a former Trump campaign aide.

Today, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which drafted the report, said the panel is meeting with the FBI to hear its concerns about releasing the 10-page document and its advice on passages to redact.

“We’re going to sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have,” Schiff said in a CBS interview. “And any legitimate concerns over sources and methods, we will redact.”

Trump insists he declined to release the report because it would “create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests.”

Schiff countered that Trump blocked the memo because it “undermines his claim of vindication” from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation that has evolved to include claims that the president obstructed justice by trying to interfere with the probe.

Schiff said the Democratic memo, which draws its information from classified reports, defended the surveillance request, saying investigators “followed all of the correct procedures.”

Under obscure committee rules, Democrats have three options: resubmit the document after the FBI’s concerns are addressed, urge the Republican-controlled House to override Trump’s refusal to publicize the report or let the issue go.

Bannon Agrees to Mueller Interview, But May Face Contempt for Defying Congressional Subpoena

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is facing threats of contempt charges for defying a subpoena ordering him to testify before a House committee’s investigation of President Trump and Russia, plans to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller next week and answer all of his questions.

The former Breitbart News chief agreed last week to meet with Robert Mueller’s team and fully cooperate as part of a deal to avoid testifying before a grand jury.

But Bannon continues to defy a subpoena compelling him to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, prompting U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff on Tuesday to pledge to “enforce the subpoena on Bannon” by beginning contempt proceedings, The Hill reports

“Testifying before the special counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the committee. Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony,” Schiff said in a statement.

Schiff said Bannon’s attorney informed the committee that his client does not plan to testify during a committee hearing next week.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also plans to skip out on the hearing.

“Neither Bannon nor Lewandowski have articulated legitimate grounds for refusing to appear and answer questions before Congress, and we fully expect them to return,” Schiff said.

Bannon, who resigned in August, is considered a key witness in the investigation because he was a close confident of Trump and played key roles in both the campaign and the presidential administration.

In an explosive book published last month, Bannon blasted the campaign’s handling of Russia and suggested the Mueller investigation will focus on money laundering. He also said it was “treasonous” for some in the Trump campaign, including the president’s son, to meet with a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Trump’s Tough Choice: Release Memo Rebuttal Or Risk Perilous Standoff

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to publicly disclose a classified, Democratic rebuttal of the much-disputed GOP memo that set off a political firestorm that continued to rage this week.

Now Donald Trump has five days to decide whether he wants to block the document’s release. If he objects to the disclosure, the full House has the option of accepting the decision or trying to override the president in what certainly would set the stage for an ugly, high-stakes standoff with Democrats, some Republicans and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Democratic rebuttal disputes the GOP memo, which alleges the FBI and Justice Department abused their powers to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

The president and his congressional allies contend the alleged surveillance abuses demonstrate an anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department, which are overseeing the special counsel investigation of Trump and Russia.

As the investigation heats up and is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering in the probe, Trump’s strategy has been to cast himself as the victim of the “single biggest witch hunt” in U.S. history. The Republican memo provided the president with ammunition to ramp up his assault on the agencies’ reputations.

But the release of the Democratic memo could undermine Trump’s narrative, which has been dismissed by congressional members from both parties and the FBI and DOJ as a reckless, shameless campaign to cast doubts about any conclusions drawn during the probe.

A White House official told the New York Times that it would review the memo before deciding whether to block it. 

“We will consider it along the same terms that we considered the Nunes memo — which is to allow for a legal review — national security review — led by the White House Counsel’s Office,” spokesman Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One.

FBI: House Intel Committee Chairman Won’t Share Memo Alleging Surveillance Abuses

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The controversial Republican head of the powerful House Intelligence Committee claims to have a classified memo suggesting the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling has been compromised by a bias against President Trump.

Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Trump supporter from California, and his staff produced an apparent classified report claiming FBI investigators engaged in surveillance abuses, The Daily Beast first reported. 

“The FBI has requested to receive a copy of the memo in order to evaluate the information and take appropriate steps if necessary. To date, the request has been declined,” said Andrew Ames, a spokesperson for the FBI.

Nunes’ spokesperson Jack Langer dismissed the Daily Beast as “America’s foremost publication regurgitating the Democrats’ talking points.”

The four-page memo has been reviewed by more than 150 members of the House, but Democrats characterized the report as “a misleading set of talking points attacking the FBI.”