Some top House Republicans have had it.
After months of stonewalling by the FBI over documents that explain the origins of the “Russia collusion” investigation, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is ready to start impeachment proceedings against not only the head of the FBI, but also the deputy attorney general overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
And with a deadline for turning over documents expiring Wednesday, he’s stating it in no uncertain terms.
In an appearance Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” Rep. Devin Nunes, the tenacious California Republican, made it clear that the House expects the FBI to comply with its demand to turn over an unredacted copy of the document that launched the Russia investigation.
That was only hours before the deadline Nunes set in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray written April 4.
When host Laura Ingraham asked if Nunes is considering holding Wray in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate, Nunes went even further.
“We’re not going to just hold them in contempt,” he said. “We will have a plan to hold them in contempt and to impeach.”
That included Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 man at the Department of Justice.
“We’re not messing around here,” Nunes said.
At issue, as The Daily Caller reported last week, is the document that “laid out the bureau’s rationale for opening the counterintelligence investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives.”
In other words, the House of Representatives wants to know, in understandable English, exactly how the FBI justified its investigation into allegations that an American presidential campaign colluded with a geopolitical rival to affect the campaign’s results.
Americans have been hearing the accusation for so long, they’ve probably gotten numb to how astounding the accusation is. And given the enormity of the allegation, it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask the nation’s top law enforcement agency to explain why it decided it needed to investigate. It almost seems like investigators would be glad to explain their decision, just to reassure Americans the probe is in good hands.
But the FBI has refused to make it public.
According to a barely believable New York Times story in December, the investigation was sparked by the drunken bragging of a Trump volunteer who told an Australian diplomat in 2016 that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton based on emails that had been hacked at the Democrat National Committee.
Since Russia’s hacking of the DNC was not publicly known at the time, that would have meant — or at least indicated — the Trump campaign was aware of the hacking and was, therefore, colluding with Russia.
That was a considerable pivot for the story, which had previously been that the investigation was based on the unproven assertions of the since-debunked “Trump dossier” compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.
The document the House Intelligence Committee is asking for would prove one version or the other. And the FBI is refusing to turn it over, except for a heavily redacted version the House received in March.
In Nunes’ letter to Wray last week, he made it clear that was not acceptable, and set the deadline for Wednesday.
On Monday, Nunes was confident the FBI would comply.
“We’re not messing around here. They’re going to give these documents,” he said, according to The Daily Caller.
“They have a responsibility to give us documents when we ask for them. At the end of the day, we’re going to win on this, and it’s just a matter of how tough they’re going to make it for Congress to actually do our job under the Constitution.”
If not, the FBI director and the second in command at the Department of Justice are heading toward contempt of Congress hearings, and possible impeachment.
Contempt hearings take time, and impeachment hearings take even more time. With November’s midterms getting closer by the day, FBI and DOJ resistance to compliance could be based on a bet the Republicans won’t be in power in Congress for much longer.
If so, Wray and Rosenstein are staking an awful lot on that bet, because House Republicans have had it.
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