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Tag: House Intelligence Committee

Judge: Trump Opened Door for FBI Disclosure After Declassifying Dossier Documents

Members of the House Intelligence Committee. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s decision to release a declassified report on the Steele dossier and the Democratic rebuttal to it means the FBI must cough up information on whether the report verifies the evidence suggesting a link between Trump and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta in February supported the FBI’s decision to deny a request seeking to confirm the existence of records involving the controversial dossier, Politico reports

But Trump’s decision to declassify the competing reports nullifies the question of whether the documents exist.

“It remains no longer logical nor plausible for the FBI to maintain that it cannot confirm nor deny the existence of documents” related to attempts to verify information in the dossier, Mehta wrote in a 13-page opinion.

The FOIA was filed by a Politico reporter and the James Madison Project.

“This ruling represents another incremental step in revealing just how much the FBI has been able to verify or discredit the rather personal allegations contained in that synopsis derived from the Steele dossier,” said Brad Moss, a lawyer pressing the lawsuit. “It will be rather ironic if the president’s peripheral actions that resulted in this ruling wind up disclosing that the FBI has been able to corroborate any of the ‘salacious’ allegations.”

Comey Slams House Intel Report on Collusion, Says Trump Has No Credibility

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey slammed a House intelligence Committee report by Republicans that concluded President Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Comey, who was fired by Trump in May 2017, also said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the president should avoid an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I have serious doubts about his credibility,” Comey said.

Comey, who is doing a round of interviews to publicize his new memoir, added: “Sometimes people who have serious credibility problems can tell the truth when they realise that the consequences of not telling the truth in an interview or in the grand jury would be dire, But you’d have to go in with a healthy sense that he might lie to you.”

Comey called the GOP-authored report on its Russia investigation “a political document,” saying the probe “wrecked the committee.”

Trump hailed the 253-page report Friday as vindication that the special counsel investigation is a “total Witch Hunt.”

Comey accused the president of “an effort to undermine the credibility of the investigation that the special counsel’s conducting.”

House Panel Says ‘No Evidence’ of Trump-Russia Collusion, Drawing Scathing Rebuttal from Dems

Members of the House Intelligence Committee. Photo via U.S. Capitol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a highly redacted, final report on its one-year Russia investigation, saying it found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

But Democrats, in a scathing rebuttal, accused Republicans of drawing a premature conclusion in a “a systematic effort to muddy the waters and to deflect attention away from the President.”

Trump seized on the report to amplify his assertion that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation should end.

“Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. ‘No evidence’ that the Trump Campaign ‘colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia,’” Trump wrote. “Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia- Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!”

The final report closes what has been a politically contentious investigation with little agreement between Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans did conclude Russia sought to sow discord ahead of the election by launching cyber attacks and propaganda campaigns on  social media.

The Senate judiciary and intelligence committees are conducting their own investigations, as is Mueller, who so far has landed indictments against more than 20 people and entities.

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.

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