One congressman turned the Trump-Russia collusion ‘narrative’ on its head

by WorldTribune Staff, October 30, 2017

Two moves by the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee turned the Russia “narrative” away from President Donald Trump and toward Democrats, a veteran Washington reporter said.

The first move by Rep. Devin Nunes was to expose the “unmasking” of Trump associates by the Obama administration.

Rep. Devin Nunes is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. / Reuters

The second was signing a subpoena for the bank records of Fusion GPS which revealed that the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) put up the cash for the bogus Trump dossier authored by British spy Christopher Steele.

The California Republican’s moves “have clearly irked Democrats, who want the investigation confined to suspected Republican coordination with Russian election interference,” Rowan Scarborough wrote for The Washington Times on Oct. 29. “The Senate and House intelligence committees so far have found no confirmed evidence of Trump collusion.”

When Nunes went public about his discovery on the “unmasking” of Trump associates, he was derided by Democrats and Washington’s press corps. After an advocacy group filed a complaint about his disclosure with the Office of Congressional Ethics, Nunes removed himself as the overseer of the committee’s Russia probe.

Samantha Power, as ambassador to the United Nations, made hundreds of the unmasking requests, Fox News reported. She told the intel committee that other people did some of the unmaskings in her name.

The committee subpoenaed documents concerning Power, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan. All deny that they were spying on Trump.

The Russia narrative was totally turned on its head by the chain of events touched off by Nunes’s subpoena for the bank records of Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS went to U.S. District Court on Oct. 20 and asked a judge to block the subpoena, which triggered the first revelation of the discredited Trump dossier’s financiers.

The law firm Perkins Coie filed a letter, written to Fusion’s attorneys, acknowledging that Perkins had hired Fusion with money from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Perkins, whose attorney Marc E. Elias is the Clinton campaign’s general counsel, urged Fusion to lift the confidentiality of other clients who funded the dossier.

“The letter said the flow of money to Fusion started in April 2016 and ended before the Nov. 8 presidential election. Mr. Steele began writing his memos in June. He continued to write and submit dossier memos up until December, meaning there are other moneymen for whom Mr. Nunes would like names,” Scarborough wrote.

The Trump dossier, posted in full by BuzzFeed, accuses Trump of “salacious conduct with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel, a long quid pro quo relationship with Russian intelligence and bribe-paying in Asia,” Scarborough noted. “None of those charges has been confirmed publicly.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, has been the top congressional critic of Nunes and also “is a big fan of Mr. Steele’s and has repeated his charges in Congress and on TV,” Scarborough wrote.

Interviewed last week by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Schiff said Nunes is just trying to change the subject.

“I think, Chris, at the end of the day, what this is about is a technique you see often in criminal cases where the facts are really bad for the defendant, there’s an effort to put the government on trial,” Schiff said. “So I think Mr. Nunes and the president want to put the government on trial because they don’t want to look at the facts implicating the White House.”

Cuomo: “That’s problematic when the man that you’re defining that way is in charge of the investigation, is the head of your committee. And it raises the question of when are we going to see what you guys have.”

Schiff: “It is problematic, Chris, because he had committed to stepping aside and recusing himself from the investigation but has not done that. And so that is a real problem that we have to grapple with every day.”

Leon E. Panetta, a Democrat and former director of the CIA and secretary of defense, told CNN that Congress needs to find out who funded the dossier.

“Well, it’s obviously something that the intelligence committee is going to have to look at,” Panetta said. “You know, knowing presidential campaigns, they’re big operations and somehow the left hand may not know what the right hand is doing. And that could be the case here, but I really do think that the committee is going to have to get into this, determine just exactly what happened. Who knew what and when.”

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