Gutsy: Outgoing Chairman Devin Nunes’ turned the Russian collusion narrative on its head

by WorldTribune Staff, November 12, 2018

Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was able to flip the script on Trump-Russia “collusion” to bring to light the Obama administration’s abuses of the FISA process and the Democratic Party’s financing of the bogus Trump dossier.

Conservatives view the California Republican as “the one House chairman courageous enough early on to take on and expose President Obama’s FBI hierarchy and the Democrats,” Rowan Scarborough wrote in a Nov. 11 analysis for The Washington Times.

Rep. Devin Nunes. / Reuters

“Nunes’ chairmanship was remarkable,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Typically, congressional committees are hijacked by the agencies they purport to oversee. But Chairman Nunes refused to back down and took on the powerful intelligence community that was politicized and corrupted in an effort to destroy the Trump candidacy and then his presidency.”

Scarborough noted the major disclosures made by Nunes as intel committee chair:

  • The 35-page anti-Trump dossier – written by former British spy Christopher Steele whose allegations were freely repeated by Democrats – wasn’t an intelligence report. For months, no one knew for sure who had ordered it. Nunes found out. It was funded as opposition research by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. Their agent, Fusion GPS, fed its information to a who’s who of Washington’s influential news bureaus.
  • The FBI cited the dossier as its main piece of evidence to persuade a judge to sign a year’s worth of surveillance warrants on Carter Page, a Trump campaign volunteer. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) judges are supposed to require confirmed evidence.
  • In its wiretap application, the FBI cited a story in Yahoo News as independent corroboration of the dossier. But as the Yahoo News writer later said, his story had come from Steele, as did the dossier.
  • Steele lied to the FBI by saying he hadn’t spoken with reporters. When it became obvious that a Mother Jones magazine article on election eve was sourced to him, the FBI fired the former British intelligence officer.
  • Steele continued to feed anti-Trump information to FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the Trump investigation in 2016 and 2017, by going through middleman Bruce Ohr, the associate deputy attorney general of the Justice Department. Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS as a Russia researcher investigating Trump.
  • Steele told Ohr that he was “desperate” to destroy Trump.
  • Through the threat of more subpoenas, Nunes forced the Justice Department to release Strzok’s text messages. Strzok expressed a deep dislike for Trump and promised to “stop” him.
  • The FBI planned to pay Steele thousands of dollars to continue investigating Trump into the transition and possibly the presidency, meaning the bureau would be backing a Democratic Party-paid operative.
  • After more than a year of gumshoeing Steele’s dossier, federal agents didn’t confirm any of his core election collusion charges. Steele peddled conspiracy stories about Trump, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Page and then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, as well as a smattering of rich Russians. None has been charged with collusion by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • Daniel Jones, a former senior intelligence staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, amassed a huge operations fund of $50 million from rich donors last year to continue to investigate Trump. Among his hires: Fusion GPS and Steele.
  • James R. Clapper, Obama’s top intelligence officer, was talking to CNN confidentially postelection. The conversations came at the same time the network was reporting that then-FBI Director James B. Comey briefed President-elect Trump on the dossier’s salacious, unverified part that said he cavorted with prostitutes in Moscow. Trump has denied this. Clapper’s spokesman denied to The Washington Times that he leaked the briefing. Comey didn’t tell Trump that the report was Democratic opposition research. Clapper was hired by CNN.
  • The Obama White House “unmasked” a large number of Americans picked up in foreign communication intercepts. The names were censored, but Obama aides asked the intelligence community for the names.

Scarborough noted there were “two main events” that spurred Nunes to break off from the Trump-Russia probe and begin the “FISA abuse” investigation.

“First, the CIA changed its assessment of why Putin interfered in the 2016 election via hacking Democratic Party computers and stealing and publishing emails. The intelligence community had said via leaks that the motive was to sow chaos. But after Trump defeated Clinton, the assessment shifted: Putin did it to help Trump win.”

“Then there was the leak of retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s December 2016 telephone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Republicans believe Obama people were leaking highly sensitive, top-secret intelligence as a way of damaging the incoming Trump administration. Flynn resigned as national security adviser and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the phone calls.”

Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said that “The leak itself, and the large number of anonymous intelligence sources confirming it to the press, was another very major occurrence that raised the chairman’s suspicion that something untoward was happening and needed to be investigated.”

The clincher was the dossier. “Once the BuzzFeed news website posted the entire document as Trump was about to take office, Nunes and others finally got the chance to read specific allegations,” Scarborough noted.

“From the beginning, it looked to the chairman like an absurdity,” Langer said. “For us, it just defied belief.”

After more than two years of FBI investigation, no public evidence has surfaced of any Trump-Russia money-laundering.

When Democrats assume the majority in January, Rep. Adam Schiff is expected to become the committee’s chairman.

Schiff, who championed the bogus Steele dossier, is likely to restart the investigation into election collusion, which the Republican majority intelligence report concluded didn’t happen.


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