WAS THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION PROPERLY “PREDICATED?”
by Sharon Rondeau
As he had during a Sunday interview with Maria Bartiromo, Nunes said the referrals encompass allegations of lying to Congress, leaking classified information, and conspiracy arising from the Russia “collusion” narrative invoked by the FBI to launch a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
Following the firing of FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was hired to assume the investigation, which was transformed into a criminal probe lasting another 22 months.
On March 22, the delivery of Mueller’s report to the Justice Department with no new indictment recommendations demonstrated that no evidence of “collusion” between the campaign and the Kremlin had been found.
Nunes said he and a former U.S. attorney and current congressman, John Ratcliffe, are looking forward to speaking with Barr at the “appropriate” time about the referrals, which may number as many as two dozen when Nunes concludes this phase of what he said has been his work over the last 2.5 years.
Referring to the “collusion” narrative as “Russiagate,” Nunes expressed appreciation for the new attorney general “who calls ‘spying’ for what it is.”
The FBI and DOJ obtained four warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to monitor the communications of 2016-Trump campaign informal adviser Carter Page using an unverified “dossier” compiled by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, who had an anti-Trump bias and was fired by the FBI after leaking information about his work to the press.
Intelligence personnel did not inform the court when applying for the warrants that the dossier was a product of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Nunes said that “late 2015/early 2016” was when “spying” on the Trump campaign began, leading to the FISA warrants on Page. “They considered that ‘legal’ spying,” Nunes said of those conducting the surveillance. Referring to Comey, Nunes added, “Then you have the culmination of the ultimate spying where you have the FBI director spying on the president, taking notes, illegally leaking those notes of classified information…why? so they can appoint a special counsel to spy on an acting president again. So there’s a lot of spying and a lot of leaking…”
Comey admitted as much in his June 8, 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he stated, “And my judgment was, I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself, for a variety of reasons. But I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. And so I asked a close friend of mine to do it.”
Nunes added that despite the release of a number of transcripts from closed-door interviews of intelligence individuals involved in the Trump-Russia probe, “We still have transcripts from our investigation that are sitting over at the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) that still have not been declassified…” He said that releasing those will augment the transcripts already released as to what occurred in 2016.
FBI and DOJ officials have denied wrongdoing in their transcribed interviews. In commentary aired Thursday, Comey appeared nonplussed when responding to a reporter’s question regarding Barr’s claim made Wednesday to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign. Whether or not the surveillance was properly “predicated,” Barr said, he will be investigating.