Reported by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 07 Feb 2018 at 6:57 AM
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that former President Barack Obama’s State Department “was gathering information” on Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia in 2016 before “passing it to very strange places.”
Nunes — who is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — told host Laura Ingraham the committee’s investigation of allegations of Trump-Russia collusion includes three phases.
- The first is the panel’s probe of surveillance abuse against Trump campaign volunteers by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI.
- The second phase is a review of “irregularities” at the State Department,
- and the third will be interviewing “the cast of characters.”
Phase one culminated with the release of a four-page summary memo, prepared by Nunes’ staff, describing the surveillance abuses. Those abuses were enabled by a dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele and paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign committee.
Nunes said the second phase is now moving forward.
“I can just tell you that the State Department was gathering information and then passing it to very strange places. That should not have happened,” Nunes told Ingraham, noting he could not divulge more information at that time.
“I will just say that there were comments over the weekend from people within the State Department that said [former Secretary of State] John Kerry had been briefed on the [Trump-Russia] dossier, that they had provided the new dossier, whatever this new dossier is, and they had provided it also to the FBI,” Nunes said.
“So, by people starting to talk about it, it seems to me like some people may be trying to distance themselves from the rest of the cast of characters involved,” he added.
Nunes’ comments came after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a highly redacted copy of the criminal referral they sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending the potential prosecution of Steele. Wray made public a less-redacted version of the referral late Tuesday.
“It is a vindication of what we’ve been dealing with for the last five days, where we have been scolded that the dossier really played no part at all in the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA] application. So clearly that’s not the case,” Nunes said of the referral.
Grassley and Graham’s referral revealed that Clinton campaign aides and former Obama appointees fed material to Steele as he compiled the dossier. The anti-Trump dossier was used by the FBI and DOJ to obtain warrants from the FISA court allowing the government to spy on Trump associates.
“Sadly, the mainstream media continues to ignore this. Even tonight I was looking. No one’s covering this,” Nunes said of Grassley and Graham’s referral, noting that “it’s pretty clear now you have the Clinton campaign, who was getting information from the Russians, dirt on Trump.”
Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joseph diGenova also told Ingraham Tuesday that the Grassley-Graham memo “establishes beyond any doubt that the FBI knowingly deceived the FISA court about the information that it was presenting to them.”
DiGenova accused the FBI and DOJ of lying to the FISA court “about the fact that it was verified information — which it was not, which the law requires.”
“And now we know that additional Clinton allies, including Sidney Blumenthal, were involved in the transmission of false information, unverified information, to the FBI through State Department officials,” diGenova said. “Somebody’s gonna have to go to prison.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) implied Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Story” that Blumenthal fed a former State Department employee information used for Steele’s unverified Trump-Russia dossier.
If Clinton lost the election, then the FBI and DOJ sought “to frame Donald Trump and his associates with a false crime,” diGenova claimed.
“There is now no doubt whatsoever that the lawyers at the FBI and the lawyers at the Justice Department deceived, deceived FISA court knowingly,” diGenova said. “They had every reason in the world to believe that the information being provided was not only biased but completely unreliable. They didn’t care.“
The FBI and DOJ “wanted the wiretaps, the intercepts and the electronic surveillance” because it was part of their “plan” to “exonerate” Clinton during the course of the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, diGenova said. If Clinton lost the election, then the FBI and DOJ sought “to frame Donald Trump and his associates with a false crime,” diGenova claimed.
“And they almost succeeded,” diGenova said. “And if she had won, they would have succeeded.”