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Tag: House Intelligence Committee

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

Trump Says Nunes, Who Spearheaded Memo’s Release, Has Makings of ‘Great American Hero’

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican Devin Nunes, the California congressman who set off a political firestorm by spearheading the controversial release of a secret, much-disputed memo drafted by GOP staff, “may someday” be considered a “Great American Hero,” President Trump said Monday.

Trump, who claimed over the weekend that the GOP-drafted memo “totally vindicates” him in the growing special counsel investigation, tweeted that Nunes is “a man of tremendous courage and grit” who “may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!”

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes caught widespread criticism, including from members of his own party, for taking the highly unusual step of declassifying intelligence-gathering information over fierce opposition from the FBI and Justice Department. The memo, which the DOJ and committee Democrats vigorously disputed, alleges the intelligence agencies abused their surveillance powers by spying on Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Trump’s gushing tweet came just hours before the House Intelligence Committee was voted unanimously to support the release of a classified memo drafted by Democrats to counter the surveillance abuse claims.

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.

A Trump spokesman said the president won’t make a decision until he and a national security team review the memo, which could undermine the president’s narrative that the special counsel probe is part of a “witch hunt” to remove him from office.

Trump Slams Leading Memo Critic Ahead of Push to Release Democrats’ Rebuttal

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump woke up this morning ready for war.

Two days after he claimed a much-disputed memo “totally vindicates” him in the special counsel investigation, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to fight tonight for the release of their rebuttal memo, which strongly disputes the Republican-drafted document. 

At stake is a Trump-driven narrative, fueled by the memo’s release last week, that claims the FBI and Justice Department are bent on destroying the president and therefore cannot be trusted to oversee Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president obstructed justice or his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The argument stems from the committee’s GOP-drafted memo, which Republicans released last week over the strong objections of the FBI and DOJ. The narrative is vital to shed doubt on the integrity of the special counsel probe, which is picking up steam and has reached the doors of the White House.

Some committee Republicans, including Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, have expressed a willingness to release the rebuttal once it’s properly vetted.

On Twitter this morning, Trump launched a preemptive strike at Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the committee’s most vocal critic of the Republican memo, which suggests the FBI and DOJ abused their authority to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

The president didn’t elaborate.

Even if the committee approves the release of the rebuttal, Trump would have five days to review the document and decide whether it should be declassified and released.

If the president objects, the committee has the option of sending the memo to the full House for another vote.