House Intel Committee Chair Devin Nunes has demanded that 17 current and former FBI or Department of Justice officials testify about the possible abuse of government surveillance during the 2016 election.
The House Intelligence Committee does not have direct oversight over the DOJ or FBI, so testimony will more likely be referred to the Oversight and Judiciary Committees.
Both committees have jurisdiction over DOJ and FBI oversight, and Nunes’ letter reportedly seeks information concerning fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI agent Peter Strzok.
For the sake of transparency and to keep the American people as fully informed as possible about these matters, the task force should consider interviewing these individuals in an open setting.
Strzok who was escorted from FBI headquarters recently faced a closed-door session in Congress in which Nunes and others hoped to gain insight into anti-Trump text messages that Strzok sent while at the same time playing a key role in the FBI’s Russia investigations and Hillary Clinton email.
Nunes list includes former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and FBI official Peter Strzok.
During a recent DOJ press conference, Deputy Director David Bowdich faced questions about Strzok.
A reporter from The Daily Caller asked, “Peter Strzok was questioned by Congress behind closed doors. The FBI lawyer told him not to answer a number of questions which frustrated a number of members on Capitol Hill. What was the point of him going behind closed doors if he was told not to answer a number of questions that a number of members said were unbelievable?”
Bowdich declined to answer because he was not in the meeting. He said: “I’m not gonna address that. That’s between his lawyer and him. The questions—and it’s certainly between us and Congress, and we will address this to the best of our ability …”
Strzok testified to House Judiciary member behind closed doors this past Wednesday for 11 hours. Republican members of the committee said Strzok declined to testify about any questions the committee had about Fusion GPS, the main focus of their inquiry. Democrats on the committee claim that Strzok’s statements are being taken out of context.
Another focus of the committee is Joseph Pientka, the agent who was part of the FBI’s interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn. On the Senate side of the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has attempted to speak with Pientka with no help from the DOJ.
Flynn pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe to making false statements to the FBI in that interview. Republicans want more information about that interview because recent revelations have raised questions about the guilty plea itself.
Nunes, Grassley, and others say that former FBI Director James Comey indicated to lawmakers that FBI agents did not believe Flynn intentionally lied about the talks with Russia’s ambassador.
Grassley wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney Rosenstein in May:
Contrary to his public statements during his current book tour denying any memory of those comments, then-Director Comey led us to believe during that briefing that the agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe he intentionally lied about his conversation with the Ambassador and that the Justice Department was unlikely to prosecute him for false statements made in that interview.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd declined that requests. He later suggested that the requested appearance of Pientka was unnecessary because the DOJ was not aware of “any allegation against or previous publicity about the agent.”
Grassley refused to accept that answer from the DOJ calling it, “disingenuous and extremely disturbing.”
A DOJ official said that Rosenstein “along with the FBI Director and DNI Coats, look forward to further briefing and again presenting responsive documents to Chairman Nunes and the rest of his colleagues in the Gang of 8 meeting scheduled for Thursday of this week.”
Nunes suggested that the FBI possibly violated criminal statutes and its own strict internal procedures by using unverified information during the 2016 election to obtain surveillance warrants.
The requests from Nunes and Grassley comes as the Justice Department and other Republicans spar over access to documents concerning the FBI’s alleged informant in contact with members of President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The letter was sent to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. Both are expected to respond to the request early next week.
~ Freedom News Report