Devin Nunes sent a letter on February 20, 2018 to current and former intelligence, law enforcement and State Department officials.
This follows an intriguing and open interview Nunes gave on February 18, 2018.
The two events are complimentary. First, the interview.
Sharyl Attkisson asked House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff for interviews to talk about findings in their Russia related investigations.
Nunes agreed to the interview.
Adam Schiff did not.
Attkisson’s upload of the February 18, 2018 interview is below.
You can find the full transcript here.
Attkisson’s questions were direct and Nunes was refreshingly blunt in his responses.
From the interview:
Nunes: We’ve never had any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
Sharyl: So you’re comfortable with saying at this point, you don’t see anything there?
Nunes: There’s nothing there.
Sharyl: What else?
Nunes: We’ve unearthed things that are very concerning. We know that there are un-maskings that occurred and probably were leaked to the media.
What we found was happening is in the last administration, they were unmasking hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of American’s names. They were unmasking people for what I would say were for political purposes.
Sharyl: How could they use that information?
Nunes: We have no evidence that they leaked this information. We only know that names were unmasked. And those names ended up in the newspaper.
Sharyl: In a derogatory sense, in terms of political enemies of the Obama Administration.
Nunes: Political dirt to create a narrative and a spin with the mainstream media.
Sharyl: You reported what you learned on the unmaskings to President Trump and were criticized by a Democrat counterpart of the committee, Adam Schiff…How would you answer Adam Schiff’s criticism that you behaved improperly?
Nunes: I held a press availability where I told the press I’ve found this information. It has nothing to do with Russia. I’m going to explain this to the President of the United States. Because I’m the only one that really can do it. Afterwards, I went and talked to the press at the White House.
My reward for total transparency with the media and everybody involved was to be brought up under a false ethics accusation. Everyone’s learned [it] was total nonsense and it’s been dismissed.
Sharyl: One very tangible bit of evidence that to me looks like a crime is the fact that the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, made unmasking requests on a near-daily basis. Which is pretty incredible. Yet she reportedly told Congress, most of those were not really her.
Wouldn’t that mean somebody committed a serious National Security Crime if they used her name to request unmaskings of US Citizens?
Nunes: We don’t know what the truth is there. I think it’s highly unlikely that she was not the one who was giving permission to make those unmasking requests.
Sharyl: So you don’t believe her?
Nunes: I just don’t know how that’s possible.
Sharyl: There appears to be a serious conflict of interest that the intelligence community, who are in charge of the investigation some of these things, are implicated in some of these alleged misdeeds.
How do you get around that? How can this be investigated fairly, when the only prosecutorial authority really rests with the people accused of wrongdoing?
Nunes: What you’re getting into is the FISA abuse. There were unmaskings that we unearthed, then there are the FISA abuses that we’ve discovered.
This is where the FBI and the Justice Department – because they’re involved in this FISA Abuse, because they’re the ones who go before the secret court to get the warrants – they’re all involved, they’re all implicated in this.
Sharyl: But the most you can do about it is to just raise the issue. Congress can’t prosecute or refer cases for prosecution.
Nunes: Congress can make criminal referrals, but we don’t have the ability to prosecute people. And that’s the challenge.
Sharyl: Why is the Carter Page wiretap interview so important?
Nunes: The Hillary Campaign and the Democratic Party went out and paid for dirt. They got it from Russians by the way. Then they used that dirt and funneled it into the FBI. The FBI then used that dirt to get a warrant on a US citizen who was part of the other campaign.
Sharyl: We asked your Democrat counterpart Adam Schiff for an interview, but he wouldn’t do it. He said that the memo that you put out was misleading and omitted material facts.
Nunes: We didn’t want to disclose any sources and methods. We tried to reduce the memo down to what we believed the American people needed to know. So we put in the memo the things that were used before the FISA court in order to justify the warrant.
Sharyl: Schiff says your goal is to put the FBI on trial, and to put special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation on trial.
Nunes: FISA abuse has nothing to do with the Mueller investigation. As it relates to Department of Justice and the FBI, if they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial.
The reason that Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created. DOJ and FBI are not above the law. Congress created them, we oversee them, and we fund them.
If they’re committing abuse for a secret court, getting warrants on American citizens, you’re darn right that we’re going to put them on trial.
Sharyl: What would you say is the takeaway?
Nunes: I think people are just starting to learn now what really happened.
As we peel more and more of this back, I think more and more Americans get educated.
And I think that they’re gonna demand that changes are made.
The interview took place on February 18, 2018.
On February 20, 2018, Chairman Nunes sent a letter.
A letter with ten questions.
Fox reported the following:
Chairman Devin Nunes posed a string of dossier-related questions to current and former intelligence, law enforcement and State Department officials. He specifically wants to know when they learned the document was funded by Democratic sources, and how it was used to obtain one or more surveillance warrants at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Nunes told Fox News earlier this month that his committee would pursue “Phase 2” of the investigation.
He suggested this would include scrutinizing the State Department and other agencies.
Fox News understands the questionnaire went out to about two dozen current and former officials.
Among them were Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, who testified in May 2017 that the Trump dossier was virtually unknown to him.
A source close to the investigation is not ruling out the possibility that more officials could be questioned as the next phase of the probe continues.
On February 12, 2018, I discussed Brennan’s role and highlighted aspects from his Congressional testimony. I also touched on Clapper’s disavowal of a FISA Warrant – and his sudden reversal.
The letter has a required response date of March 2, 2018. Along with a promise:
If you do not provide timely answers on a voluntary process, the Committee will initiate compulsory process…
And one question of particular note:
9. Was President Obama briefed on any information contained in the dossier prior to January 5, 2017?
The date of January 5, 2017 is important.
On February 8, 2018, Senators Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to Susan Rice.
From the Grassley/Graham letter:
The Committee received classified and unclassified versions of an email you sent to yourself on January 20, 2017 – President Trump’s inauguration day. If the timestamp is correct, you sent this email to yourself at 12:15pm, presumably a very short time before you departed the White House for the last time.
In this email to yourself, you purport to document a meeting that had taken place more than two weeks before, on January 5, 2017.
That meeting reportedly included a discussion of the Steele dossier and the FBI’s investigation of its claims.
Your email continued:
President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book”. The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.
From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.
The next part of your email remains classified. After that, you wrote:
The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.
I discuss the Grassley/Graham letter in more depth here.
Some other notable question posed by Nunes:
4. What official actions did you take as a result of receiving the information contained in the Steele dossier?
5. Did you convene any meetings with the intelligence community and/or law enforcement communities as a result of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
8. When did you first become aware that the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA order on Carter Page?
10. Did you discuss the information contained in the Steele dossier with any reporters or other representatives of the media? If so, who and when?
The shift has begun.
Now the Congressional push begins to uncover how widely the Dossier was disseminated and used throughout the Obama Administration.
And how high that dissemination and use went.
As Byron York noted:
At first, the public learned that a few people in the FBI knew about the dossier in the summer and fall of 2016.
Then the public learned that some top officials in the Justice Department knew about the dossier in the same time period.
And then the public learned that top officials in the State Department knew about it, too.
Now, Nunes wants to know if the extent of that knowledge went even further inside the government.
Hint: It did.
Phase II has begun.
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