• November 30, 2022

Devin Nunes: GOP investigators ‘laser-focused’ on information CIA gave to FBI in 2016

 Devin Nunes: GOP investigators ‘laser-focused’ on information CIA gave to FBI in 2016

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House Intelligence Committee Republicans are “laser-focused” on investigating information the CIA gave to the FBI in 2016, according to ranking member Devin Nunes.

For the first time, the California congressman described in great detail the next steps of a broad congressional inquiry into possible misconduct during the Russia investigation, which he said includes scrutiny of three “dossiers” and questions about three Russian Americans. All of this follows the declassification of key documents over the past couple weeks, including footnotes showing the FBI was warned British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier was likely influenced by Russian disinformation and yet continued to use it, and Nunes’s pledge to send more criminal referrals to the Justice Department.

During a Fox News interview on Sunday, Nunes brought up the CIA at the end of a list of issues he and his colleagues are examining and credited the investigative work of his former Republican colleague, South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy, with providing a road map for that facet of the effort.

“In 2016, we know from great work that Trey Gowdy did at the time … that the CIA gave information over to the FBI in 2016. We now are laser-focused on that. We need to know exactly what did the CIA give to the FBI in 2016?” Nunes said.

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Gowdy, the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, encouraged investigators in May 2019 to track down emails between former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey from December 2016.

A short summary of Steele’s unverified research, which was funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm, made it into an appendix in the 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian election interference. That report, released in the waning days of the Obama administration, assessed with “moderate” to “high” confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin sought to boost Trump’s 2016 election chances.

Steele’s dossier was also used by the FBI to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to wiretap Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who was suspected of being a foreign agent for Russia but was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Gowdy asserted Brennan was in more jeopardy than Comey for the use of an unverified dossier for the Trump-Russia investigation, after which Brennan said there was “ample evidence to justify what the FBI and the intelligence community did in the summer” of 2016.

In November, Brennan dissociated himself from what was then the forthcoming Justice Department watchdog report on an investigation into alleged government surveillance abuses against Page. Emphasizing “the FBI was taking the lead” on securing the FISA warrants, Brennan told MSNBC the CIA might have known something about Page if his name “came up in some type of Intelligence Community report,” adding, “That would have been immediately shared with the FBI.”

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, released in December, criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to FISA warrants against Page, and also determined the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, was properly predicated.

That report also showed Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fought to include information from Steele’s dossier in the January 2017 intelligence community assessment, while the CIA “expressed concern” about using the former MI6 agent’s salacious and unverified allegations.

Still, questions remain about Brennan’s role in the matter. Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul pinned the blame on Brennan, tweeting last year, “A high-level source tells me it was Brennan who insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report.”

Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward also said last year, “I think it was the CIA pushing this.”

U.S. Attorney John Durham, at the behest of Attorney General William Barr, is conducting a review of possible misconduct by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials during the Russia investigation and is said to be increasingly focused on Brennan. Democrats have criticized Durham’s review as a politically-motivated scheme to undermine the work of special counsel Robert Mueller and attack Trump’s perceived enemies.

The CIA did not immediately return a request for comment on Nunes’s talk of an information exchange with the FBI.

Nunes told Fox News on Sunday that “there’s a bunch of questions” about three “phony documents” that Durham is examining that House Intelligence Committee Republicans are also investigating. One of them is the Steele dossier. The other two are the 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian election interference and Mueller’s report, which Nunes said is “filled with both lies and omissions.”

“Remember, you have people that have been prosecuted over this, that have already spent time in jail over this. Why when Mueller and his team, you know, this great team of experts at DOJ and FBI, they brought all these people in, where the hell is all of that information now that you guys are all now seeing for the first time here in the last week?” he said.

“Why did we not know about [former Trump campaign adviser] George Papadopoulos being offered this money, OK, from Russians. Who were those Russians?” Nunes added. “And so moving forward, you have the three dossiers that have to be investigated. I’m also interested in three Russians — actually Russian Americans, that we’re looking into.”

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