High-ranking State Department executives — those both current and former — will be “hauled into Congress” next week to “answer publicly” questions about the “salacious and unverified” anti-Trump Steele dossier, according to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in an appearance on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
“A week ago we sent a letter with a questionnaire to high-ranking former Obama and current Trump officials, asking them 10 questions about when they knew about the dossier, when they knew the dossier was used, when they knew the dossier was used to get a warrant to spy on an American — all questions that the public has a right to know and that the Congress definitely has a right to know,” said Nunes, who is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“They have ’til Friday to respond to this questionnaire. And what’s alarming is, Laura, that the mainstream media — the Democratic-controlled mainstream media — is not reporting on this questionnaire,” Nunes continued. “So I guess they’ll be surprised when, you know, a week from today when we have to issue a slew of subpoenas if these people don’t answer.”
Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress last year that the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele contained “salacious and unverified” allegations about President Donald Trump’s personal activities and business connections in Russia.
Nunes told Ingraham that “what happens here in the Beltway” is that current and former State Department officials mostly read The Washington Post and The New York Times and watch CNN and MSNBC. They ignore conservative outlets and those outlets outside the mainstream.
“And they think, well, just because Devin Nunes is being attacked and Devin Nunes is being called a Trump stooge and I’m being just constantly — it’s a character assassination — that somehow they’re not going to be subpoenaed and that they think the press is going to cover for them,” Nunes said.
“Well, I’ve got news for them — they are going to get subpoenaed, and they are going to answer publicly to all 10 questions in that questionnaire,” Nunes continued. “And the mainstream media can continue to ignore it all they want, but at some point the cameras will be on and all of these people will be hauled into Congress to answer the questions.”
Nunes said there is an “ongoing investigation” that has entered phase two, focusing on the State Department and its knowledge of the anti-Trump dossier. Nunes also defended the release of the GOP committee members’ memo alleging anti-Trump bias within the FBI and its use of the dossier to spy on Carter Page, a volunteer foreign-policy adviser for the Trump campaign.
The Democrats released their rebuttal Friday in which they defended the FBI’s actions and minimized the role the dossier played in obtaining surveillance warrants.
The committee chairman argued that it’s a “total obfuscation” for Democrats to claim that the dossier wasn’t used originally to obtain the first surveillance warrant.
“That’s not the point. The point of our memo was to say that the [Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act] system was abused,” Nunes said. “Why? To find dirt on the Trump campaign, [on] which they struck out. They found none. So the fact that the Democrats say that this was not the start of the investigation is totally irrelevant.”
“Is it OK to open an investigation — a counterintelligence investigation, no less — using a secret court to go after a political campaign? Is that ever OK? I think the answer is no,” Nunes said. “It shouldn’t be done in the FISA court.”
Nunes argued that the FBI should have used an open court with due process rather than the secret FISA court system. He also insisted that the FBI should have been more up front with the court and emphasized that the dossier had been funded by Trump’s political opponents during the 2016 presidential election.
“So even when they found this out, they should have [gone] immediately back and said, ‘OK, we have a problem with Steele. We also know that this was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee,'” Nunes said. “They didn’t go back to the court and say that, either.”
“The FBI also knew that Steele desperately did not want Donald Trump to win. Now, this is all exculpatory evidence that has to be presented to the [FISA] court,” Nunes added. “It’s even more important that the court be fully informed on every single issue because Carter Page has nobody there to defend him.”
Attorney Solomon Wisenberg, the deputy independent counsel for Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater/Lewinsky investigation surrounding former President Bill Clinton, agreed with Nunes when he appeared on “The Laura Ingraham Show” afterward.
“To me, it’s very significant that [the FBI was] using opposition research from the opposition political party to get something as serious as a FISA warrant, and you are not making that absolutely clear to the FISA court,” Wisenberg said. “That should have been done. That is still a reality. It’s not enough to say somebody who might have wanted to harm the candidacy of Trump did it. I think that’s a key fact that should have been divulged.”
Wisenberg also noted that the Democrats didn’t refute the Republicans’ claim in their memo citing former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s testimony about the dossier’s use.
“What McCabe testified was, ‘We wouldn’t have gone to the FISA court if it hadn’t been for the Steele dossier,'” Wisenberg said. “And I think that’s of significance.”