“HE’S GOT SERIOUS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER FOR”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 7, 2020) — In a rare lengthy interview on Monday, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA22) discussed everything from his $450 million lawsuit against CNN for alleged defamation to the media in general to the Russia “hoax” to Ukraine to what he said is an “active investigation” into Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson for his role in advancing the “whistleblower” complaint which initiated the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump in September.
The interviewer was Sara A. Carter, who began questioning the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative approximately three years ago with former colleague John Solomon. At the time, both were working for Circa News. Carter is now an independent journalist and Fox News contributor. Solomon is also independent, a Fox News contributor and a target of left-leaning media.
As then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on February 2, 2018, Nunes released a declassified memo drafted by the then-Republican majority claiming that the FBI and Justice Department abused the process by which FISA warrants are obtained, in that particular case on American citizen Carter Page. With Sara Carter on Monday, Nunes agreed that the memo’s claims were supported by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 400+-page report released on December 9.
Sara Carter headlined the interview with a declaration Nunes made at approximately the 37-minute mark indicating that “Republicans have an active investigation into (IG Michael) Atkinson.”
Atkinson, a Trump nominee, privately testified to the House Intelligence Committee, now led by Adam Schiff (D-CA28), in a whirlwind of depositions scheduled by House Democrats after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an “impeachment inquiry” on September 24. Less than a day later, the White House released a transcript of a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy which the whistleblower claimed demonstrated Trump abused his power for political reasons.
During testimony in late September, Acting DNI Joseph Maguire testified that Atkinson found the whistleblower’s complaint to be “of urgent concern,” whereas Maguire said he hesitated to convey the complaint to Congress since it involved the president and possible executive privilege.
Maguire consulted with the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, which wrote in a September 3, 2019 opinion:
The complaint does not arise in connection with the operation of any U.S. government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community. Rather, the com-plaint arises out of a confidential diplomatic communication between the President and a foreign leader that the intelligence-community complain-ant received secondhand. The question is whether such a complaint falls within the statutory definition of “urgent concern” that the law requires the DNI to forward to the intelligence committees. We conclude that it does not. The alleged misconduct is not an “urgent concern” within the meaning of the statute because it does not concern “the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity” under the authority of the DNI. Id. § 3033(k)(5)(G)(i). That phrase includes matters relating to intelligence activities subject to the DNI’s supervision, but it does not include allegations of wrongdoing arising outside of any intelligence.
Schiff ultimately released the transcripts from other witnesses, but not Atkinson’s, Nunes pointed out. He said he believes Schiff and Atkinson view the latter’s testimony as “very damaging.”
“The fact that the Democrats won’t release the transcript of us interviewing the inspector general, Atkinson, that brought this scam forward – everyone needs to see that testimony, and the reason that it’s not being released is because it’s very damaging, not only to the whistleblower, but also to Atkinson himself,” Nunes told Carter. “His testimony’s really bad, and the Republicans have an active investigation into Atkinson.”
Due to rules Schiff imposed as to “leaks” to the media, Nunes is precluded from discussing exactly what Atkinson said.
When Carter said she and others may not have heard that before, Nunes replied, “We’ve mentioned it, but I think people have just kind-of ignored it, because of course we don’t have subpoena power, so we can’t bring Atkinson back in. But he’s got serious questions to answer for, because I believe that he either lied to Congress or he really needs to correct his statements…”
Nunes said that a letter he authored with Rep. Jim Jordan and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to Atkinson asking a specific question resulted in a “typical IC response, which was to not answer the question.”
When Carter asked if the transcript might become public in the future, Nunes responded, “It hasn’t been made public yet; why would it not be? Nobody in the media’s calling for it. You’d think they would be. I’ve talked about it on television; (Rep.) John Ratcliffe‘s talked about it on television; there’s very few of us [who] actually know what’s in the transcript. But, yeah, it’s a major problem.”
On December 15, Ratcliffe, a strong supporter of the president, told Maria Bartiromo that “Schiff ‘helped start’ the whistleblower complaint.”
At 4:23 p.m. EST, The Post & Email contacted the DNI at its posted number and asked for the media contact but was told the department was gone for the day.
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Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.