Rep. Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, announced Saturday that he could hold the head of the FBI and his deputy in contempt over refusing to disclose the fact that an agent on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe had been demoted over several text messages that displayed bias against Donald Trump.
The California Republican says that he wants to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt for withholding information regarding the departure demotion of one of the members of Robert Mueller’s team “unless the FBI and DOJ meet all the committee’s outstanding demands,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported this weekend that Peter Strzok, one of the lead investigators on the probe — as well as a lead investigator on the Clinton email investigation — had been removed from the special counsel’s investigation this summer after it was revealed he had sent anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages to an FBI lawyer he was having an affair with.
The issue with the revelation — well, among many issues — is that Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee have been asking the FBI and Department of Justice for information regarding Strzok’s inexplicable departure for months and have met with nothing but stonewalling, according to the Examiner.
“On Oct. 11, Nunes met with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. In that meeting, Nunes specifically discussed the committee’s request for information about Strzok,” the Examiner reported. “In an Oct. 31 committee staff meeting with the FBI, bureau officials refused a request for information about Strzok.
“On Nov. 20, the committee again requested an interview with Strzok. (Three days earlier, on November 17, Strzok met with the Senate Intelligence Committee.),” the article continued. “On Nov. 29, Nunes again spoke to Rosenstein, and again discussed Strzok. On Dec. 1, the committee again requested to speak with Strzok.”
Of course, on Dec. 2, pretty much everyone got a lot of answers about what happened — namely, that Strzok was a biased adulterer whose text messages constituted a conflict of interest so massive even Robert Mueller couldn’t ignore it.
“By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility,” Nunes said in a statement.
“This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee’s oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.”
Lo and behold, just as the stories appeared, the DOJ and FBI said they were willing to cooperate with some of the demands, according to Nunes.
“The DOJ has now expressed — on a Saturday, just hours after the press reports on Strzok’s dismissal appeared — a sudden willingness to comply with some of the committee’s long-standing demands,” Nunes said.
“This attempted 11th-hour accommodation is neither credible nor believable, and in fact is yet another example of the DOJ’s disingenuousness and obstruction.”
According to the Examiner, Nunes says that “he has instructed committee staff to draw up a contempt of Congress citation for Rosenstein and for FBI Director Christopher Wray” and plans to exercise it if the committee’s demands aren’t met by the end of December.
The DOJ, needless to say, doesn’t exactly agree with Nunes’ assessment.
“We disagree with the Chairman’s characterization and will continue to work with congressional committees to provide the information they request consistent with our national security responsibilities,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.
She added that the DOJ had “cleared key witnesses they have requested to testify, including (FBI Deputy Director Andrew) McCabe, Mr. Strzok, and the alleged handler in question.
Either way, you can bet that fireworks are about to start.
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