Politics

‘No Official Intelligence’ Spurred Russian Collusion Probe, Nunes Says

House panel chairman also said DNC 'ought to be suing themselves' for colluding on behalf of Clinton's campaign

No “official intelligence” was used to open the FBI’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“It took us a long time to actually get this, what’s called the electronic communication. As we know it now, for your viewers … it’s the original intelligence, the original reasons, that the counterintelligence investigation was started,” Nunes said.

“Now, this is really important to us because the counterintelligence investigation uses the tools of our intelligence services that are not supposed to be used on American citizens,” he continued. “So we’ve long wanted to know well, what intelligence did you have that actually led to this investigation?”

The congressman added, “We now know that there was no official intelligence that was used to start this investigation.”

“We know that [longtime Clinton friend] Sidney Blumenthal and others were pushing information into the State Department,” Nunes said. “So we’re trying to piece all that together, and that’s why we continue to look at the State Department.”

Nunes told host Maria Bartiromo that Blumenthal and another of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s close personal associates were “actively” funneling information to the Department of State that “was somehow making its way to the FBI.”

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The State Department’s “major irregularities” spurred the House committee to investigate its connections with the Trump-Russia probe, now led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The committee’s GOP members discovered that the FBI used an anti-Trump dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to renew surveillance warrants monitoring former Trump adviser Carter Page.

But more than 11 months after Mueller took the probe’s helm, no known evidence has yet implicated Trump in Russian collusion. Nevertheless, the DNC filed a lawsuit last week against the Trump campaign, Russia, and WikiLeaks, alleging that they all colluded to throw the election in Trump’s favor.

“This is about the extreme Left, the socialist Left, wanting to never accept that the president of the United States was rightfully and duly elected, carried a number of states that nobody expected him to carry,” Nunes said Saturday on Fox News’ “Justice With Judge Jeanine.” “So this is a fundraising scheme. It’s nothing more, nothing less. It’s a fundraising scheme because the Democrats are out of money, and that’s what this is about.”

Nunes said that the DNC “ought to be suing themselves” because “they are the ones that colluded with the Russians” against Trump. The congressman pointed to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed against the Clinton campaign for funding the anti-Trump dossier.

“It’s a fundraising scheme because the Democrats are out of money, and that’s what this is about.”

“They’re the ones that have an FEC violation. They didn’t report that they were paying Fusion GPS, right? That they were digging up dirt on the Trump campaign. None of that was reported, so they ought to be suing themselves,” Nunes said. “This is nothing more than a scam to keep their base fired up.”

Despite the lack of evidence against Trump, DNC Chairman Tom Perez argued Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that the DNC filed its lawsuit alleging collusion because he wants “to make sure that we send a very clear signal.”

“This was an assault on our democracy, and we have to protect that,” Perez said. “I’m punching back not only for my colleagues — I’m punching back for democracy.”

Perez said he’s “confident” that “we will get a jury trial.”

Related: Mukasey: Obama Wanted Clinton Cleared to Avoid Being Linked to Her Misconduct

During an interview with Perez Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos — a former Clinton campaign operative — asked the DNC chairman whether he was “misdirected here” in filing a lawsuit pertaining to events that happened during the 2016 presidential campaign while Democrats are supposed to be gearing up for the 2018 midterm elections.

“George, we can walk and chew gum,” Perez replied. “It’s a lot harder to win elections if you have interference in elections. What we’re building at the DNC is a strong voter protection infrastructure. And one way to make sure we protect voters this November is to make sure we are doing our level best to ensure that interference never occurs again.”

“One of the reasons we’re winning is because people believe that we should stand up for our democracy. That’s what we’re doing in this lawsuit, George. We can walk and chew gum,” Perez added, claiming that “we have seen story after story” about “the conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign to affect the outcome of the election.”

Perez also said the DNC filed its lawsuit last week because “you’ve got to make sure you’re filing it within the applicable statute of limitations.”

“I don’t know when [special counsel and former FBI] Director Mueller’s investigation is going to end, so we need to file now to protect our rights,” Perez said.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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