Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa holds the gavel close while listening to testimony by Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Javier Garcia Padilla on Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Puerto Rico and its debt crisis takes center stage in Congress as its governor testifies before a Senate panel about the U.S. commonwealth’s financial woes and the demands of creditors.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Last week, the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a memo compiled by staff of that committee. It focuses on two major areas. First, the abuse of FISA authority that resulted in that law being used by the outgoing Obama administration to monitor activities of the incoming Trump administration. Second, the fairly blatant antipathy of some senior FBI officials toward the idea of a Trump presidency and how this antipathy may have impacted upon the use of the Trump dossier and other parts of the ‘collusion’ investigation. This memo is based, in part, on top secret and compartmented information. It is held in the SCIF at the House of Representatives and members — over 200 thus far — can read it but not have copies or make notes.
Parallel with this is the issue of five months of missing text messages between the former number-two FBI counterintelligence officer, Peter Strzok, and the FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, who worked under deputy director Andrew McCabe whom Stzrok was also, by the way, banging. They were both married but in this day and age, who cares? YOLO. These text messages cover the time period of Strzok’s interview of Michael Flynn, the various FBI leaks to the media that plagued the administration, and the text messages suddenly are available again the day AFTER Mueller was appointed as special counsel.
In this regard, three committee chairmen, Trey Gowdy, Devin Nunes, and Bob Goodlatte have expressed disbelief in the FBI’s story.
The backdrop of this includes a prolonged period of intransigence on the part of Justice, but particularly on the part of the FBI, to producing either documents or witnesses that had been subpoenaed by the House. The breakpoint came when Chairman Nunes threatened Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray with criminal contempt citations. They tried an end-run to Paul Ryan but in the end, were forced to comply.
In the meantime, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson has also been involved. It was his committee that documented that not only did Comey decide the outcome of the Clinton email investigation in advance, but that Loretta Lynch knew of that outcome before she met with Bill Clinton in Phoenix. And, contrary to Comey’s sworn testimony, the Department of Justice assisted in drafting Comey’s statement exonerating Clinton.
Now Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has joined the fray. In a blistering speech, a speech that was a veritable Festivus style airing of grievances, Grassley called out the FBI for deliberately obstructing his committee’s investigation. And more. Read the statements these are the highlights of the floor speech.
In his floor speech Wednesday, Grassley said that his efforts to declassify the memo detailing the allegations had been stymied by FBI, which he said “is falsely claiming that three of our unclassified paragraphs each contain the same, single classified fact.”
“If FBI really believed this fact was classified, then the FBI and the Department should take better care to act consistent with that belief. Unfortunately, I suspect something else is really going on here,” Grassley said. “It sure looks like a bureaucratic game of hide the ball, rather than a genuine concern about national security. I am pressing this issue with [FBI] Director [Chris] Wray, and I hope that we can provide this information to the public as soon as possible.”
If you want to understand why the House Intelligence Committee refuses to let the FBI or Justice see the memo, this is the reason. The FBI and Justice are in a heavy damage-control mode. They are obstructing the ability of Congress to conduct oversight. And this is not going to end well for either Justice or the FBI. And it shouldn’t.