The House Intelligence Committee in the next few weeks will release dozens of transcripts of depositions it conducted as part of the Russia investigation, according to committee chairman Devin Nunes.
The committee interviewed 73 witnesses (pdf) as part of its 14-month Russia investigation that concluded in March. Though around 70-80 percent of the interviews are not classified, the committee has never made the transcripts public. Nunes plans to send the classified interviews to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for vetting.
Nunes plans to release all of the transcripts before the midterms elections on Nov. 6 in a bid to shed more light on the investigation of the Trump campaign by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI before and after the 2016 election.
“The American people now are beginning to see the walls are beginning to close in on the corrupt officials at the Department of Justice and the FBI,” Nunes told Fox News on Sept. 16.
“Many of them have been fired. Many of them are on leave. Many of them have been demoted. But you are slowly starting to see this collapse in on them even though the mainstream media is not covering this as they seem so focused on drinking the Russian Kool-Aid.”
The committee investigated, among other matters, whether the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump coordinated with Russia. When asked whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, none of the 73 witnesses provided any evidence, according to the committee’s final report (pdf). On the other hand, the committee found that the Clinton campaign paid for an anti-Trump dossier with intelligence gathered from Russian sources, including government officials with links to the Kremlin.
Instead of focusing on the findings of the committee’s investigation, the mainstream media continues to look into “who’s getting indicted by the special counsel instead of focusing on ‘Was there any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia?'” Nunes said, “to which the answer is ‘No.'”
The role of the mainstream media in the Russia investigation moved into the spotlight over the past month with revelations that senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page discussed a “media leak strategy” in April 2017. Text messages between Strzok and Page show that the pair was in touch with the media in 2016 and that the bureau was not the only agency involved in leaking. In one message, Strzok told Page that “our sisters have begun leaking like mad,” with “sisters” likely referring to the other agencies in the intelligence community.
The problem with the leaks, according to Nunes, is that the FBI appears to have planted stories in the media to use them as a pretext to interview American citizens. In addition, the FBI used at least one planted news story to corroborate the anti-Trump dossier as part of a warrant application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on former Trump-campaign volunteer Carter Page.
The committee pinpointed 2-3 dozen reporters who were “fed dirt” by the Clinton campaign and Fusion GPS, the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier.
“What was happening here, and this ought to scare American people, it scares me to know that the FBI and DOJ would go out and leak fake news stories in many cases, plant them in many cases, and then pick up those fake news stories to use them as a pretext … to go out and interview American citizens,” Nunes said.
“These people are really dirty,” he added. “I hope that we continue to get all this information out before the election so that people know just how sick this Russia Kool-Aid that’s been poured on the American people, how bad it’s really been.”
According to Rep. John Ratcliffe, the intelligence committee interviewed a host of top Obama-administration officials, including former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
The findings of the intelligence committee, combined with volumes of evidence that has since surfaced, suggest that under the pretense of investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russia, the intelligence apparatus of the United States unleashed an unprecedented surveillance operation on the Trump campaign using at least five of the most intrusive spy tools.
Codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, this counterintelligence investigation started in late July 2016 and eventually evolved into the criminal probe by special counsel Robert Mueller. Given the revelations about Crossfire Hurricane and the fact that Mueller has not produced any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, President Donald Trump regularly expresses frustration with the special counsel probe, calling it a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
“The illegal Mueller Witch Hunt continues in search of a crime. There was never Collusion with Russia, except by the Clinton campaign, so the 17 Angry Democrats are looking at anything they can find. Very unfair and BAD for the country. ALSO, not allowed under the LAW!” Trump wrote on Twitter Sept. 16.
According to Ratcliffe, lawmakers are also frustrated by Mueller’s probe, mainly because part of what the special counsel is investigating remains a mystery. Congress has yet to see the second “scope memo” from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein which outlines the parameters of Mueller’s investigation.
Many of the documents related to the probe of the Trump campaign, including the secret court warrant to spy on Carter Page, remain classified either in part or in full. Trump has hinted that he may declassify the documents “to find additional corruption.” Several Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus, including, Reps Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz, and Lee Zeldin, urged the president on Sept. 6 to declassify the documents.
“The only satisfactory outcome now is full transparency for the American public and full accountability for those who maliciously subjected American citizens to surveillance abuses,” said Zeldin.