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Tag: House Intelligence Committee

Amid Impeachment Threat, DOJ Gives Nunes Access to Trump Probe Document

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who threatened to hatch a plan to impeach senior Justice Department officials for failing to turn over a confidential report, said Wednesday he’s “finally” received the highly classified document that launched the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Nunes, a President Trump ally and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had threatened to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if they didn’t turn over the report.

Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., went to the Justice Department to view the document, which is said to spell out the justification for launching the investigation n 2016 into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, CNN reported

Nunes didn’t comment on the substance of the report, and because it’s classified, didn’t reveal details.

“After numerous unfulfilled requests for an Electronic Communication (EC) related to the opening of the FBI’s Russia counterintelligence probe, Chairman Trey Gowdy and I met this afternoon with Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” Nunes said in a statement.

“During the meeting, we were finally given access to a version of the EC that contained the information necessary to advance the Committee’s ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice and FBI,” Nunes continued.

House Republicans Abruptly Conclude There Was No Collusion with Russia

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Even as special counsel Robert Mueller delves deeper into secret meetings between Trump and Russian associates, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee abruptly concluded they found no evidence of collusion between the president’s campaign and the Kremlin.

The GOP-dominated committee, with no input from Democrats, drafted a 150-page report that concedes Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election but disputes the intelligence community’s findings that the meddling was intended to help Trump win. One committee Republican, Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, didn’t agree, telling CNN “there is evidence” that Russia’s goal was to help shift the election in favor of Trump.

Rep. Mike Conaway, who headed the committee’s investigation, told reporters Monday that the report was based on the testimony of more than 70 witnesses and 300,000 documents. 

“We found no evidence of collusion. We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings,” the Texas Republican said. “But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings, whatever, and weave that into a some sort of fictional page-turner spy thriller.”

Trump responded on Twitter: Trump responded to the announcement on Twitter on Monday night, writing in all capital letters “THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.”

Trump didn’t mention that Democrats, who are expected to issue their own conclusions, were quick to dismiss the committee’s report as partisan-driven and premature.

“By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the majority has placed the interests of protecting the president over protecting the country,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff, of Calif., the top Democrat on the committee. “And history will judge its actions harshly.”

Schiff, who suggested last month there was “ample evidence” of collusion, said the committee’s investigation was closed before key witnesses have been interviewed and important documents have been procured.

Just last week, sources revealed Mueller is investigating whether an early 2017 meeting in Seychelles was an effort to establish a back channel between Russia and the Trump administration.

Senate Intelligence Leaders Accused Republicans of Leaking Text Messages to Fox News

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee suspect that House Republicans leaked to Fox News confidential texts messages between the panel’s Democratic leader and a Russian-connected lawyer, according to several news sources.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner, D-Va., were so alarmed they summoned a rare meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to inform him of what they consider a careless, partisan attack and a violation of protocol. They also expressed concerns about how Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are handling the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports

Sen. Mark Warner

The two senators said Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee leaked a batch of text messages between Warner and a lobbyist he had hoped would lead him to the dossier alleging troubling connections between President Trump and Russia. The Senate committee, which also is investigating Russia’s interference, provided the House panel with transcripts of the text messages.

“The speaker heard the senators on their concerns and encouraged them to take them up directly with their counterparts,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The House Intelligence Committee, led by controversial Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has come under criticism from both sides of the aisle for actions many lawmakers consider diversionary and driven by partisanship. Last month, over the objection of the FBI and Justice Department, Nunes led the drive to release a controversial memo that claims abuses by the federal agencies’ surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

A few days later, Fox News obtained copies of Warner’s text messages, prompting Trump and other Republican allies to suggest the Democrat was up to something surreptitious. 

“Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch,” Trump tweeted  at the time. “Warner did not want a ‘paper trail’ on a ‘private’ meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame.”

Warner said he did nothing wrong and notified his committee of the conversations in hopes of setting up an interview with the dossier’s author, the former British spy laid out salacious claims about Trump’s ties to Russia.

Hope Hicks Refuses to Answer Questions in Congressional Probe of Russian Interference

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

White House communications director Hope Hicks became the latest former or current Trump aide to refuse to answer questions about the Trump administration as part of a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Saying she was acting on instructions from the White House, Trump’s longtime political aide declined many questions in a closed-door sessions of the House Intelligence Committee.

But under pressure, Hicks answered some questions about the tradition period, committee members told the Washington Post.

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.

“No one’s asserting privilege; they’re following the orders of the White House not to answer certain questions,” Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill, said after the interview.

“There’s no hope to get all our answers,” he added.

Democrats failed to get the GOP-led committee to serve Hick with a subpoena like was done with former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, who also refused to answer questions.

“There’s apparently one rule for Steve Bannon and another rule for everyone else,” the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), complained after the interview.

Other Stories of Interest

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.

Dems’ Rebuttal Contradicts Key Republican Claims in Controversial Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A declassified Republican memo that President Trump claimed “vindicates” him is full of “distortions and misrepresentations,” according to a Democratic rebuttal that undercuts the GOP’s core arguments.

The rebuttal, released late Saturday afternoon, includes key FBI documents that contain the exact wording used by the bureau to gain authority to spy on a former Trump campaign operative. 

The Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee released its memo in January, claiming the FBI misled a secret surveillance court by failing to mention the origins of a controversial dossier used as evidence to secure a warrant to surveil Carter Page, who was under investigation for being a Russian operative. Trump and some Republicans used the memo, which was partially funded by the Democrats, to bolster their claim that the FBI was on a partisan mission to destroy Trump’s candidacy.

But the Democratic rebuttal, which Trump initially declined to release, offers a more detailed and nuanced explanation of the FBI’s handling of the dossier and suggests the FISA court knew Steele was an anti-Trump source. In the rebuttal, Democrats cited a key line in the bureau’s documents that state “the FBI speculates” Steele was hired to find “information that could be used to discredit Campaign #1’s (Trump’s) campaign. That contradicts the key claim by Republicans and Trump who alleged the FBI failed to mention the political nature of the dossier.

“This is a pretty thorough demolition,” Julian Sanchez, an expert on surveillance at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote on Twitter about the rebuttal memo.

The rebuttal also points out that Page was under investigation long before the dossier was used to extend the warrant because the FBI feared he was a Russian operative.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that the dossier undermines the argument that the bureau is part of the “deep state.”

“I’m not surprised the White House tried to bury this memo response as long as they could,” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ‘’But it’s important for the public to see the facts, that the FBI acted appropriately in seeking a warrant on Carter Page, that they are not part of some deep state as the president would like the public to believe. ”

Still, Trump slammed the memo in a tweet Sunday: “The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!”

Bannon Met Several Times This Week with Special Counsel Investigating Trump, Russia

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met several times this week with the special counsel team investigating President Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

The former Breitbart news chief, who continued today to defy a subpoena to testify before a House committee about the Russia and Trump probe, was interviewed for about 20 hours by the team led by Robert Mueller, NBC News reports

Details of the interview are unclear, but Bannon 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.

Bannon, who resigned in August, is facing contempt charges for continuing to refuse to answer questions by the House Intelligence Committee.

CNN reports that Bannon met briefly with the committee today and told the panel he had been instructed by the Trump administration to invoke executive privilege. 

Schiff: House Committee Presented with ‘Ample Evidence’ Trump Campaign Colluded with Russia

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said there is “ample evidence” that the public has not yet seen to show Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and that the president obstructed justice.

“There is already, in my view, ample evidence in the public domain on the issue of collusion if you’re willing to see it,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, told reporters, USA Today reports.  “If you want to blind yourself, then you can look the other way.”

Schiff said the House committee has been provided with an “abundance” of classified information in closed-door meetings to indicate Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Schiff pointed to various meetings between Trump’s campaign and people with ties to Russia who pledged to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

“All of this is evidence of collusion,” said Schiff, a former federal prosecutor. “Now, I’ve never said that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s for Bob Mueller to decide. But to say there’s no evidence of collusion, you’d have to ignore all this.”

Other Stories of Interest