Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post.
The republican US House Intel Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes has been at it again with his latest tactics in attacking the “rule of law,” the work products of the FBI and the US Department of Justice with its leaders in order to discredit the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe being led by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller III.
In my mind, Rep Nunes has gone too far where I can’t help why he isn’t being brought up on ethics charges or facing some level of consequences for his destructive behaviors.
Update on 26th of May 2018: Possibly, in order to preserve / protect the current FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, it looks like the FBI and DOJ officials caved into to US Congressional representatives’ demands for access to classified data pertaining to an FBI informant who did question some of the president’s team members during the 2016 campaign about their contacts with Russian operatives.
As per a 5/24/18 NYT report by Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, “President Trump’s chief of staff (General John Kelly) and a White House lawyer (Emmet T. Flood) representing the president in the Russia investigation were present on Thursday (5/24/18) at the start of two classified meetings requested by members of Congress to review sensitive material about the F.B.I.’s use of an informant in the inquiry.”
“The 2 men left both meetings after sharing introductory remarks “to relay the president’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law” and before officials began to brief the lawmakers, the White House said in a statement. (They had been asked to leave.)
“The president’s legal team was unapologetic. “We are certainly entitled to know” what information the government has on the F.B.I. informant, Rudolph W. Giuliani, another lawyer representing Mr. Trump in the investigation, said in an interview. The meeting “cuts off a long subpoena,” he said, referring to a legal fight for the information.”
“House Republicans close to the president, led by Representative Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s chairman, had been pressing for weeks for access to material related to a law enforcement informant who had approached at least three Trump campaign advisers who had been in contact with suspected Russian agents. People familiar with the matter said that the purpose of using the informant — a common F.B.I. tool — was to glean information about what the aides knew about the Russian efforts to hack into Democratic emails, not to spy on Mr. Trump’s campaign.”
“But the issue exploded when Mr. Trump accused the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a spy in his campaign. He demanded in recent days that the Justice Department investigate the matter and turn over records to Congress, despite warnings from law enforcement officials in his administration that sharing the documents would put the informant and foreign intelligence partners at risk.”
“Law enforcement and intelligence officials did not provide documents to the lawmakers on Thursday, but they did provide information about the use of the informant, according to two people familiar with the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a classified meeting.”
“Republicans close to Mr. Nunes made clear in the run-up to the meetings that they would not be satisfied unless officials turned over documents. Neither Mr. Nunes nor lawmakers close to him spoke publicly after Thursday’s sessions.
“Democrats who attended said after the meetings that the F.B.I. had done nothing wrong by employing the informant, an American academic who served in several Republican administrations and has taught more recently in Britain.”
“Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the F.B.I. or any intelligence agency placed a ‘spy’ in the Trump campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” Mr. Schiff told reporters on behalf of the Democrats in the briefing.”
Here’s the rest of the story…
On May 12, 2018, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner of the New York Times penned the following report, “Suspicions, Demands and Threats: Devin Nunes vs. the Justice Dept.”
“In the latest episode, splashed across cable news this past week, Mr. Nunes demanded more documents and related materials for his investigation into allegations of surveillance abuse by federal law enforcement officials. His claim pitted him against not just the Justice Department, but also officials in the F.B.I., the intelligence community and the White House, who warned that disclosure could endanger a longtime source who is aiding the special counsel’s investigation.”
“As Mr. Nunes sees it, the cycle of confrontation is part of a legitimate effort by him and other House Republicans to conduct oversight of obstinate law enforcement officials.”
“But increasingly, top officials at the Justice Department have privately expressed concern that the lawmakers are simply mining government secrets for information they can weaponize against those investigating the president, including the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.”
“Mr. Nunes was unconvinced by the warnings about the intelligence and law enforcement source, first issuing a subpoena ordering that the Justice Department comply with his latest records request and then a pointed threat to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress.”
“Look, I just don’t believe that the White House does not want them to comply with a subpoena from Congress,” Mr. Nunes told reporters.”
“The relationship between the Justice Department and Mr. Nunes has so eroded that when he trekked down Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday from the Capitol to the department to discuss his latest request, Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a Republican colleague and former federal prosecutor, tagged along at the encouragement of the House speaker to help keep the meeting civil, according to a person familiar with the matter.”
“Democrats believe the pattern is clear: Mr. Nunes is abusing his authority to undermine the Russia investigation.”
“The goal is not the information,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee. “The goal is the fight. And the ultimate objective is to undermine the Justice Department, undermine Bob Mueller and give the president a pretext to fire people.”
“The requests have also sent waves of tension through the department itself. The F.B.I. is generally opposed to giving lawmakers access to any materials related to a continuing investigation. But Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, has political considerations to weigh. To completely withhold information could be politically untenable — and potentially put the Mueller investigation at risk — given the support Mr. Nunes enjoys from Mr. Trump.”
After months of giving into requests, Mr. Rosenstein has signaled that he is unwilling to go much further.
“If we were to just open our doors to allow Congress to come and rummage through the files, that would be a serious infringement on the separation of powers,” Mr. Rosenstein said at an event this month, amid reports that another House Republican had drafted articles of impeachment against him.”
“For now, tensions between Mr. Nunes and Mr. Rosenstein appear to have eased somewhat after Thursday’s briefings, which included both classified and unclassified sessions. The department did not share the requested documents with lawmakers, but it convened officials from the F.B.I. and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to lay out their case.”
Afterward, Mr. Nunes and Mr. Gowdy said in a statement that they “had a productive discussion” and that they “look forward to continuing our dialogue next week.”
“But the distrust, built over months of interactions, current and former officials said, is unlikely to dissipate soon.”
“The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, has repeatedly and publicly backed Mr. Nunes. When Mr. Rosenstein and Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, came to Capitol Hill in January in a last-ditch effort to stave off an earlier subpoena, Mr. Ryan insisted that they comply and that Mr. Nunes would act responsibly. And when, weeks later, the department took rare public steps to try to block the release of a much-disputed memo drawn up by Republican committee aides from those documents, Mr. Ryan argued that Americans ought to be able to see the memo.”
“But Mr. Nunes’s handling of his secretive memo, released in early February, has been a source of lasting ill will. The document accused top F.B.I. and Justice Department officials, including Mr. Rosenstein, of abusing their authorities to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser suspected of being an agent of Russia. Law enforcement officials warned that the document was dangerously misleading and pointed out that Mr. Nunes had not read the underlying surveillance applications on which his four-page document was based.”
“In the middle of another records dispute last month, Mr. Nunes threatened to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt or even try to impeach him if the Justice Department did not grant access to a nearly complete copy of a document used to open the Russia investigation in the summer of 2016, as well as material related to the wiretap of the Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Mr. Rosenstein acquiesced and handed over the documents, but despite Mr. Nunes’s repeated demands, he never read them, according to an official familiar with the matter.”
“In another meeting, Mr. Rosenstein felt he was outright misled by Mr. Nunes’s staff. Mr. Rosenstein wanted to know whether Kashyap Patel, an investigator working for Mr. Nunes who was the primary author of the disputed memo, had traveled to London the previous summer to interview a former British spy who had compiled a salacious dossier about Mr. Trump, according to a former federal law enforcement official familiar with the interaction.”
“Mr. Patel was not forthcoming during the contentious meeting, the official said, and the conversation helped solidify Mr. Rosenstein’s belief that Mr. Nunes and other allies in Congress were not operating in good faith.”
“Mr. Nunes made his newest request late last month. After consultation with the White House, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the F.B.I., the Justice Department rejected it a few days later.”
“Disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities,” Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter to Mr. Nunes.”
“Since then, the two sides have been unable to agree on what Mr. Nunes wants to see. Mr. Nunes insists that he has never been interested in the sensitive source, but rather wants documents and other material related to his investigation into surveillance abuse allegations.”
“I have never referenced an individual; they did,” he told reporters in recent days, referring to the Justice Department.”
“But at the department, the claim has been viewed as baffling. Mr. Nunes’s subpoena, they point out, refers to only one thing: a person.”