“THEY WEAPONIZED THIS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 18, 2018) — During the second part of an interview on today’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” host Maria Bartiromo asked current House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes how he expects to interact with incoming Democratic chairman Adam Schiff.
Biennial federal elections not only determine who serves in Congress, but also, whether Democrats or Republicans chair the committees, depending on which party obtains the majority.
In response, Nunes said he is “looking forward to our first open hearing” so that committee Democrats can divulge the “more than circumstantial evidence” Nunes said they have claimed to have that the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives.
“We know that the only thing that hasn’t leaked is this information about the Trump campaign colluding with Russians. So they’ve promised it; they now have the majority; so finally maybe now they’ll present their evidence,” Nunes said.
The “collusion” allegation began in 2016 or before, resulting in the FBI’s launching of a counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign. After then-FBI Director James Comey was fired in May 2017 and senior FBI officials were found to possibly be compromised, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller, then in private practice, to assume the effort.
Mueller’s task was twofold: to determine to what extent, if any, Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election; and to discover whether or not anyone from the Trump campaign was assisted by Russians to win over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
As House Intelligence Committee chairman for the last two years, Nunes has previously said that the committee found no evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, a claim to which Bartiromo referred during the interview.
Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (CA28), have disagreed. At the time Nunes announced that committee Republicans were closing their probe in March, Schiff said his side of the aisle would continue to gather evidence on their own.
Schiff additionally criticized Nunes and Republicans for failing to ask certain questions.
Nunes posited to Bartiromo that “dishonest politicians” claiming that evidence exists as to the alleged collusion have “poisoned” Americans’ minds. “Now, look, they weaponized this; they used it for crowdfunding, where you had all of these millions of Americans who sent money all over the country to districts they didn’t even live in to attack Republicans; that happened in dozens and dozens of districts. So look, at the end of the day, they have a responsibility now; they’re in charge; where’s their evidence?”
Bartiromo then opined that “the media” acted as “the loudspeaker” to convince Americans that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.
She then asked why House Republicans failed to interview Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who The New York Times reported in September as having planned to “wear a wire” when in Trump’s presence and attempt to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Rosenstein has denied the claims made in the article. Republicans from the House Judiciary and Oversight & Government Reform Committees had twice scheduled Rosenstein for private, sworn testimony to address that and other issues, with neither appointment ultimately materializing.
The day before Rosenstein was most recently scheduled to testify, respective House Judiciary and Oversight Committee Chairmen Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy announced that they anticipated that Rosenstein would testify, perhaps publicly, “in the coming weeks.”
Both Goodlatte and Gowdy are retiring from Congress in January.
Prior to that, Oversight Committee member Mark Meadows called on Rosenstein to “resign immediately” after the committee heard testimony from former FBI Chief Counsel James Baker which presumably reflected poorly on the conduct of the FBI, DOJ or both as it pertained to the Trump campaign.
Regarding why no committee interviewed Rosenstein prior to the midterm elections, Nunes told Bartiromo that Rosenstein “changed the terms of the interview.” “Rod Rosenstein, as the deputy attorney general, does not get to dictate to Congress what or how an interview will be conducted…This is all a scheme for them to hide from answering the tough questions,” Nunes said.