House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes denounced the Justice Department and FBI for “stonewalling” his investigation into election abuses, demanding they meet his requests for evidence by close of business Monday; and if denied he will submit a Contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Rosenstein had appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel under a Judicial Order “confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey” into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and was consequently made responsible for its oversight.
Nunes challenged Rosenstein’s and DOJ's “constant tactics of leaking, spreading false information, obstructing our investigations, and making inane excuses for noncompliance.” He was especially critical of “hiding” from Congress “documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation,” accusing the DOJ and FBI of engaging in “a willful attempt to thwart Congress' constitutional oversight responsibility."
The committee chairman was referring to FBI investigator Peter Strzok, whom Mueller had made top agent for the Trump investigation. Strzok had previously been number two in the Hillary Clinton email investigation and had participated in her interview before Comey exonerated her without DOJ review, subverting normal practice. Strzok apparently was the one who changed Comey's wording depicting Clinton's actions from the more serious "grossly negligent" to the less derogative "extremely careless,” both actions being reviewed by the DOJ Inspector General.
The world, including Chairman Nunes, only learned about Strzok when the FBI recently leaked that he had been fired to The New York Times and Washington Post, receiving media praise for Mueller acting so “swiftly.” This was information denied to Congressional subpoena and requests for interviews that would have disclosed this six months earlier! It turned out that Strzok was removed from the Special Counsel’s Office after Mueller discovered he had made denigrating references to President Trump and favorable ones about Clinton in texts to his lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page. In the insidious culture that is Washington, he is married to an associate director of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Oh, and the woman with whom he had exchanged anti-Trump love notes, also worked on the Russia probe for Mueller, Comey, and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife’s political campaign had been supported financially by Clinton associates resulting in accusations of conflict of interest against McCabe.
Speaking of love notes there is Mueller’s “tough” top Trump/Russia investigation prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann. When President Trump was challenged in court over his travel ban covering several Muslim states, Obama hold-over Acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed DOJ staff not to defend the president. Immediately after Trump fired Yates for insubordination, we now learn from the private investigative group Judicial Watch that Weissmann sent an email to her saying: “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.” While the Supreme Court allowed the travel ban to go into effect, awestruck Weissmann continues investigating the president.
After all these shenanigans from the FBI, what did current Director Wray respond after the president expressed disappointment with how the agency had acted? The president’s appointee sent an all-staff message praising FBI employees for “example after example’’ of professionalism and bragged that he had defended the agency to Congress constantly and would do so again, which he did yesterday, testifying “The FBI I see is people, decent people committed to the highest principles of dignity,” and refusing any information about Strzok.
Someone should ask Wray about the armed pre-dawn goons patting down Paul Manafort’s wife before she was allowed to leave her bed.
But the buck stops with Rosenstein, who is supposed to be supervising this operation. It was he who appointed Mueller knowing his personal friendship with his predecessor and investigative target Comey, who most probably was snookered by a Russian plant in a Fusion GPS report that led to Comey’s pre-election FBI investigation of Trump.
It was Rosenstein who allowed Mueller to politicize his staff. Rosenstein supported suppressing information about Strzok. He led the effort to deny information to Congress, saying just days ago he was satisfied with Mueller’s progress and refused to discuss or release “anything else” until Mueller and the IG act, the latter of which would not be until March.
It is high time to clean house in the swamp that the FBI has become by starting with a formal charge of Contempt against Rosenstein and Wray and following with detailed contempt hearings to inform the public about how these “decent” people at “Justice” are stonewalling the Constitutional obligation of Congress to oversee these out-of-control bureaucrats.
Sure the media will go wild but fixing the FBI is more important.
Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of "America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition and Constitution," and was Ronald Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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