House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes declared Sunday that Hillary Clinton’s campaign “colluded” with nearly every top official in the Justice Department and FBI.
An interview on Fox News had turned to the topic of Trump dossier author Christopher Steele and his ties to Bruce Ohr, a high-level DOJ official who fed the FBI information from the ex-British spy even after he was cut as a source for providing confidential information to the media.
The dossier, published last year by BuzzFeed, contains unverified claims about the Russians having information on President Trump that could be used as leverage. Republican investigators are concerned the FBI deceived a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court when it used information from the dossier without disclosing its Democratic benefactors to gain the authority to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Clinton’s campaign, as well as the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion GPS’ anti-Trump research through October 2016 after it was initially funded, then dropped by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication.
Nunes, R-Calif., blamed the media for largely ignoring the revelations surrounding the origins of the federal investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and stressing that the American people “need to know it” called for the declassification of “an unprecedented amount of information.”
Ohr, who was the fourth-highest ranking official in the Justice Department, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Aug. 28 “to answer why he had 60+ contacts with dossier author, Chris Steele, as far back as January 2016,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., announced on Twitter late Friday.
Trump himself has condemned the media for not covering Ohr more, using it as yet another avenue to label special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation a “witch hunt.”
“The big story that the Fake News Media refuses to report is lowlife Christopher Steele’s many meetings with Deputy A.G. Bruce Ohr and his beautiful wife, Nelly. It was Fusion GPS that hired Steele to write the phony & discredited Dossier, paid for by Crooked Hillary & the DNC,” he tweeted last week. “Do you believe Nelly worked for Fusion and her husband STILL WORKS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ‘JUSTICE.’ I have never seen anything so Rigged in my life. Our A.G. is scared stiff and Missing in Action. It is all starting to be revealed – not pretty. IG Report soon? Witch Hunt!”
Trump also warned on Saturday that he “may have to get involved” if the FBI doesn’t provide conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch and others with text messages of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whom he has accused of harboring a bias against him. McCabe’s wife, Jill, accepted thousands of dollars in donations for a Virginia state Senate election in 2015 from a political action committee headed by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is close to the Clinton family and chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run. McCabe assisted overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails after Jill McCabe’s bid for the state Senate ended in failure. The FBI, led by then-Director James Comey, did not recommend that Clinton face criminal charges for how she managed classified information. Among other FBI officials Trump has criticized are Comey, whom he fired last year, and FBI agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages.
Ohr’s wife, Nellie, was employed by Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the dossier in an effort that was funded in part by Democrats, to assist in the cultivation of research on then-candidate Trump. Nunes stressed the need to have her testify too.
.@DevinNunes: “Don’t forget that Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, who also will have to be interviewed soon – she also was working for Fusion GPS, working for the Clinton campaign.” #SundayFutures @MariaBartiromo pic.twitter.com/tsJZLRGGk6
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 12, 2018
“She also was working for Fusion GPS, working for the Clinton campaign,” he said. “So here you have information flowing from the Clinton campaign from the Russians, likely I believe was handed directly from Russian propaganda arms to the Clinton campaign, fed into the top levels of the FBI and Department of Justice to open up a counter intelligence investigation into a political campaign that has now colluded [with] nearly every top official at the DOJ and FBI over the course of the last couple years. Absolutely amazing.”
Nunes and fellow GOP chairmen Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., have pressed the DOJ for months for documents related to the Russia and Hillary Clinton emails investigations, with some success. However, Nunes complained that the DOJ has been slow to comply.
He also said there needs to be “an investigation into these top-level people as to how somebody concocted the idea that it’s okay to take information from one political campaign and use it to open up an investigation on the other political — on somebody else’s opposing political party.”
Nunes and other Trump allies in Congress have said they have seen no evidence that would have justified the Obama administration to open up a collusion investigation into the Trump campaign.
Asked if there will be accountability in the DOJ and FBI, Nunes declined to say if he expects there to be prosecutions, but did emphasize his call to the president to release the unredacted FISA warrant applications to spy on Page.
“The only way there could be accountability is one step at a time and it deals with full and complete transparencies,” Nunes said. Full sunlight on as many of the documents that don’t endanger national security, which from our committee members, we’ve sent a letter to the president, we don’t believe they’re going to jeopardize any sources or methods. And I think people I have said many times are going to be shocked as to what went into a FISA warrant against Carter Page and even more importantly, what did not go into the FISA application, that was not presented to the court involving the information that they had on Carter Page.”
Democrats have pushed back on what they say is a GOP effort to discredit the Mueller probe.
Page surveillance warrant documents were released in July, but in redacted form, after which Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, argued that Page’s suspicious contacts with the Russians justified FBI scrutiny. The applications “underscore the legitimate concern FBI had about Page’s activities as it was investigating Russia’s interference,” Schiff, D-Calif., said.