House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has suggested he will move to hold top Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress by the end of December, after accusing the DOJ of withholding information about the Russia probe from his committee.
His latest threats come after reports that a top FBI agent had been removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe because it was discovered that he had sent texts, that, as the New York Times described them, “expressed anti-Trump political views.” The agent, Peter Strzok, had worked on the Russia probe before it was taken over by Mueller and also played a key role in the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Nunes blasted the Justice Department and the FBI Saturday in a statement to the Washington Examiner that said, “By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility.”
In a statement to the Free Beacon Monday, he said that, “Unless all our outstanding demands are fully met by close of business on Monday, December 4, 2017, the committee will have the opportunity to move this resolution before the end of the month.” Such a resolution would be aimed at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller probe, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, according to the reports.
Nunes’ spokesperson did not respond to TPM’s inquiry.
This is not the first time Nunes has made heated claims that the Justice Department was stonewalling the committee. He threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Wray in contempt back in September because he said they were withholding information related to the so-called Trump-Russia dossier.
Nunes’ continued badgering of the Justice Department comes after he stepped down from leading his committee’s Russia probe over allegations that he mishandled classified information. (The House Ethics Committee has launched a probe into the matter). He has since said that he did not in fact recuse himself from the Russia investigation and has ramped up a peripheral investigation into flimsy claims about Clinton’s involvement in an Obama-era uranium deal.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who in theory took over the helm of the committee’s Russia probe after Nunes’ pseudo-recusal, did not respond to TPM’s request for comment. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA), the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement to TPM that he was “concerned” that Nunes “is willing to use the subpoena and contempt power of the House, not to determine how the Russians interfered in our election or whether the President obstructed Justice, but only to distract from the core of our investigation.”
A Justice Department spokesperson said, “We disagree with the Chairman’s characterization and will continue to work with congressional committees to provide the information they request consistent with our national security responsibilities.”
The DOJ statement added that that the department had given House Intel “several hundred pages of classified documents and multiple briefings,” including responses to questions about the dossier. The statement also noted that Strzok had been cleared to testify in front of House Intel, as had FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the agent who handled Christophe Steele, the ex-British spy who compiled the dossier.
The reasons for Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s probe, which was first reported in August, were a mystery until this weekend, when the New York Times and the Washington Post both reported the discovery of the texts as part of the DOJ inspector general’s inquiry into the FBI’s handling of 2016-related investigations. According to the Washington Post, the texts were part of an exchange between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, a McCabe deputy with whom Strzok was allegedly having an affair.
As is often the case, it appears that Nunes and President Trump are in lockstep in their suggestion that political bias was at work in the FBI’s Clinton probe.
Report: “ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE” Now it all starts to make sense!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017