House Intelligence chair to cite FBI, DOJ for contempt over ‘hiding documented political bias’

by WorldTribune Staff, December 3, 2017

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said he has instructed committee staff to draw up contempt of Congress charges for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray for their failure to reveal why special counsel Robert Mueller removed a key FBI agent from the Trump-Russia investigation.

Rep. Devin Nunes

Reporting by the Washington Post and New York Times on Nov. 2 revealed that the agent Mueller removed, supervising agent Peter Strzok, was reassigned due to anti-Trump texts he exchanged with a top FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an extramarital affair. Strzok, who was transferred to the agency’s human resources department, had also played a critical role in the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, promised to take action on the citation before the end of December unless the FBI and DOJ meet all of the committee’s outstanding demands, according to a Nov. 2 op-ed by Byron York for the Washington Examiner.

“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,” Nunes said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee’s oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.”

York wrote: “Word of the messages and the affair were news to Nunes, even though the committee had issued a subpoena that covered information about Strzok’s demotion more than three months ago. The committee’s broadly worded subpoena for information related to the so-called Trump dossier went to the FBI and DOJ on Aug. 24. In follow-up conversations on the scope of the subpoena, committee staff told the FBI and DOJ that it included information on the circumstances of Strzok’s reassignment.”

Nunes had requested information about Strzok from DOJ and FBI officials on six occasions.

“After each occasion, the FBI and DOJ did nothing,” York noted. “Now, in what appears to be an orchestrated leak, both the Post and Times published the reason for Strzok’s demotion, along with concerns that the revelation might help President Donald Trump.

“Among federal law enforcement officials, there is great concern that exposure of the texts they exchanged may be used by the president and his defenders to attack the credibility of the Mueller probe and the FBI more broadly,” the Post reported. The Times reported that “the existence of the text messages is likely to fuel claims by Mr. Trump that he is the target of a witch hunt.”

York wrote: “Well, yes. It will be of concern to Trump’s defenders, and to defenders of fair investigations generally, that such an important figure in both the Clinton and Trump probes privately expressed bias. It will be important for investigators – and the public – to see Strzok’s and Page’s texts to assess the extent of the problem. But in any event, Nunes is extremely unhappy – not only with the revelation of bias but with the FBI’s resistance.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores issued the following statement on Dec. 3:

“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 Department has already provided members of [the House Intelligence Committee] and House leadership with several hundred pages of classified documents and multiple briefings – including for example clear answers as to whether any FBI payments were made to a source in question related to the dossier – and has more recently cleared key witnesses they have requested to testify, including Mr. McCabe, Mr. Strzok, and the alleged handler in question.”

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