Five weeks ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan accused the DOJ and FBI of “stonewalling”
the House Intelligence Committee’s wide-ranging subpoena for all
pertinent information about how the largely unsubstantiated “Trump
dossier” played into the DOJ’s decision to launch the infamous Trump
collusion investigation. At the time, the speaker said the
agency was preparing to turn over the information requested by the
committee, but despite his assurances, the promised documents never
Then yesterday, thanks to a series of coordinated media leaks, Nunes
learned – at the same time as the broader public - about the
reassignment of Peter Strzok, a senior Mueller aide who had
played a critical role in the DOJ’s original collusion
investigation. And before that, Strzok helped lead the FBI’s probe
into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.
As it turns out, the agent had been reassigned for expressing
anti-Trump sentiments in a series of text messages to FBI attorney
Lisa Page while the two were having an affair. The bureau, it
appears, had willfully tried to conceal this fact from Nunes and his
Upon being blindsided with this information and publicly embarassed,
the Intel committee chairman was understandably less than pleased.
So in a statement issued Sunday, Nunes announced a serious
escalation: His committee, he said, is preparing to hold Andrew
McCabe and assistant AG Rod Rosenstein in contempt for the DOJ's
failure to comply with Nunes's subpoena.
Strzok was reassigned in July, shortly before Nunes issued the
request for the bureau to turn over all documents relating to the
Trump dossier. In a transparent attempt to save face, the bureau
contacted Nnes shortly after the Strzok news broke on Saturday to say
they were ready to comply with the subpoena. But Nunes rightly
repudiated this offer, saying it was too little, too late. He laid out
his argument for preparing the order of contempt in a statement
released Sunday offering details of the committee's unsuccessful push
to convince the FBI to turn over the documents it had requested.
Here’s a timeline of Nunes' contact with the Department of Justice
courtesy of the Washington
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.
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.)
On Nov. 29, Nunes again spoke to Rosenstein, and again discussed
On Dec. 1, the committee again requested to speak with Strzok.
Republicans, including President Trump, pointed to the news as
evidence that the entire probe into Russian meddling had been
Tainted (no, very dishonest?) FBI “agent’s role
in Clinton probe under review.” Led Clinton Email probe. @foxandfriends
Clinton money going to wife of another FBI agent in charge.
Unsurprisingly, both the FBI and House Democrats have been silent on
the issue, according to Bloomberg:
A Justice Department spokesman, Sarah Isgur Flores, couldn’t be
immediately reached for comment by telephone or text. There was no
immediate response Sunday from a spokesman for the committee’s top
Democrat, Representative Adam Schiff of California.
In his statement, included in full below, Nunes accused the FBI and
the Department of Justice of willfully refusing to comply with an Aug.
24 committee subpoena in part by refusing the committee's request “for
an explanation of Peter Strzok’s dismissal from the Mueller probe.”
Nunes is giving the FBI until end of business day tomorrow to fully
comply with the committee's requests, or face a contempt order before
the end of the month.
Washington, D.C. – House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Chairman Devin Nunes issued the following statement today amid press
reports that Peter Strzok, the top FBI official assigned to Special
Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of collusion between Russia and Trump
officials, had been removed from the probe after exchanging
anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton text messages with his mistress,
who was an FBI lawyer working for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe:
“The FBI and Department of Justice have failed to sufficiently
cooperate with the Committee’s August 24 subpoena, and have
specifically refused repeated demands from the House Intelligence
Committee for an explanation of Pete Strzok’s dismissal from the
Mueller probe. In light of today’s press reports, we now know why
Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this
explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to
make Deputy Director McCabe available to the Committee for an
“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.
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.
“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. This attempted 11th-hour accommodation is neither
credible nor believable, and in fact is yet another example of the
DOJ’s disingenuousness and obstruction.Therefore,
I have instructed House Intelligence Committee staff to begin
drawing up a contempt of Congress resolution for DOJ Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher
Wray. Unless all our outstanding demands are fully
met by close of business on Monday, December 4, 2017, the committee
will have the opportunity to move this resolution before the end of
In the statement, Nunes pointed to “a months-long pattern by the DOJ
and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this Committee’s oversight
work,” including also withholding subpoenaed information about their
use of an opposition research dossier that targeted Trump in the 2016
In targeting McCabe and Rosenstein, Nunes explained that Attorney
General Jeff Sessions was being excused from any contempt action by
the committee because the AG had recused himself from the
investigation into Russia meddling.
In addition to the threat of contempt, Strzok is also facing an
internal review for his role in the investigation into Clinton's
handling of classified information on her private email server. It has
already been revealed that then-FBI Director James Comey drafted his
letter excusing Clinton before she had even been interviewed. The
Office of the Inspector General probe into Strzok will examine his
role in a number of "politically sensitive" cases this year, according
At the FBI, senior managers are facing a serious dilemma: It's
probable that the information pertaining to Strzok is only some of
what the bureau has tried to keep from Nunes and the committee. Now,
the FBI is facing a dilemma: Either rush to comply without having the
time to screen all the documents that have been supplied to the
committee, or continue to resist, and face a Congressional subpoeana.
Either way, we're certain this isn't the last of the story.
Devin Nunes, House Intel Committee Prepare to Find FBI in Contempt
for Mueller Cover-up
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has
instructed committee staff to prepare to cite the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) in contempt of Congress after the agency failed
to turn over documents explaining why agent Peter Strzok had been
removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Byron York of the Washington Examinerreported
Saturday that the committee had subpoenaed the FBI in
August for information about why Strzok was dropped from
Mueller’s team. Over the next three months, the FBI repeatedly
refused to turn over the requested information. Nunes met and spoke
to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, York reported, to no
avail. Nunes and the committee continued to pursue the matter
right up through Friday, Dec. 1.
The following day, the New York
Times and the Washington
Post reported that Strzok had been kicked off
Mueller’s team because of anti-Trump text messages that he was
found to have exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page during the 2016
presidential election. Strzok had also worked on the investigation
into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s storage of emails,
including classified information, on an illicit private server. She
was not prosecuted.
In addition, Strzok and Page were found to have carried on an
extramarital affair. Page worked for FBI Deputy Director Andrew
McCabe, who conservatives have long complained had a conflict of
interest because his wife received campaign funding from
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of the Clintons
The revelation of Strzok’s removal, and the reasons for it, are a
huge blow to the credibility of Mueller’s inquiry, which critics
have long claimed is riddled with partisan conflicts of interest.
Some of the lawyers working for Mueller had donated to Hillary
Clinton, and one had even done work for the Clinton Foundation,
which was a target of the Trump campaign during the
election (and may have been under investigation by the FBI as
Nunes and the committee had known about Strzok’s removal for
months, but not the reasons for it, which were only revealed
on Saturday in what York suggested was an “orchestrated leak” to
the Times and the Post. In a furious
statement on Saturday, Nunes accused the FBI of deliberately
covering up political bias on the Mueller team.
“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, as quoted by York.
Nunes has reportedly promised to take action on the citation for
contempt if the FBI does not come clean by the end of December. He
will likely have the backing of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
(R-WI), who has also complained about the FBI’s apparent refusal to
turn over information to the committee, especially on the degree to
which it relied on the discredited “Russia dossier” that was paid
for by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
Earlier this year, Nunes stepped back from direct involvement in
the committee’s Russia investigation after questions about his role
in exposing the “unmasking” of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports
during the last days of the Obama administration. Democrats have
stalled an ethics investigation into Nunes to keep him from resuming
his role in a full capacity. However, Nunes has not given up his
chairmanship and still wields the subpoena power.
During the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder was
found in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over
documents on Operation Fast and Furious, which caused the death
of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.