A top Republican senator subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday to appear before the Senate and produce “all records” related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Russian election interference and allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.
The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, includes a request for the documents the FBI handed over to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz for his damning report the surveillance of onetime Trump campaign associate Carter Page and the bureau’s reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s flawed dossier. Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also demanded Wray deliver documentation connected to requests from November 2016 through December 2017 made to the General Services Administration for presidential transition records — another area where Republicans have long contended abuses took place to go after those in Trump’s orbit unfairly.
The Wisconsin Republican asked Wray to appear before the committee on Aug. 20 to hand over the host of documents, and he additionally released an 11-page letter on Monday defending the combined efforts between himself and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to investigate alleged FBI misconduct.
“As the FBI had done since the beginning of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, rather than using exculpatory information to end their investigation, the FBI ramped it up. Confidential human sources became FISA wiretaps; top FBI officials argued for inclusion of the unverified and salacious Steele dossier to be included in the body of the Obama administration’s Intelligence Community Assessment, and finally, the FBI investigation ballooned into a special counsel investigation,” Johnson wrote. “As a result, the Trump administration was tormented for over two years by an aggressive investigation and media speculation, all based on a false narrative. This has taken a tremendous toll on our country. Had the public known what the FBI knew at that time about its Trump-Russia inquiry, it’s hard to imagine public support for continuing the investigation, much less the appointment of a special counsel four months later.”
Horowitz’s lengthy report, released in December, criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Page and for the bureau’s reliance on Steele’s unverified dossier. Steele put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm. Declassified footnotes now show that the FBI was aware that Steele’s dossier might have been compromised by Russian disinformation. The DOJ watchdog also criticized the FBI for concealing from the FISA court potentially exculpatory information that its confidential human sources gathered during recorded interviews of Trump campaign associates.
In June, the panel approved a motion giving Johnson the ability to issue subpoenas to dozens of current and former officials, including those related to leaks of classified information to the media, interactions between State Department political officials and Steele, the FBI’s successful efforts to gain access to the Trump transition team’s records, allegations of corruption tied to former Vice President Joe Biden’s involvement in the Obama administration’s foreign policy toward Ukraine, and more. Johnson said Monday he may soon issue a subpoena for former State Department official Jonathan Winer, who was provided a copy of Steele’s dossier in the summer of 2016 and helped push the information into the State Department, and who also passed along to Steele another dossier, this one provided by longtime Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal and compiled by Clinton operative Cody Shearer.
Johnson’s letter said his present list of questions includes: “Why were so many top level Obama administration officials, including Vice President Biden, unmasking Trump campaign and transition officials? … Did the FBI’s use of campaign and transition briefings for investigative purposes, as well as its efforts to access presidential transition records, violate the law or otherwise undermine faith in the peaceful transfer of power? What other intelligence reporting did the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team ignore? Did any of these abuses precede the formal opening of Crossfire Hurricane? And of course, the overarching question: Who knew what, and when did they know it?”
Both former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates recently testified that they never would have signed the FISA warrant applications against Page if they knew then what they know now. Recent revelations about the FBI’s early 2017 interviews with Steele’s primary sub-source, revealed to be Russian-trained lawyer Igor Danchenko, show that the bureau was aware of severe doubts cast on the credibility of Steele’s allegations, yet they continued to rely upon it anyway, and that the Senate Intelligence Committee may have been misled by the FBI about the veracity of Steele’s dossier.
Johnson also pushed back against claims by Democrats and others that Republicans are out to harm Biden, who is running for the presidency, and claims that they are steeped in a Russian disinformation campaign.
“Democrats and many in the media have mainly focused their criticism of our investigation on the Biden component of our oversight… In their current attempt to circle the wagons around Biden, they have once again decided to weaponize a false ‘Russian disinformation’ narrative as a tool for attacking their political opponents,” Johnson said. “As Chairman Grassley and I have pointed out in rebuttals to their unfounded accusations, it is Democrats who have sought out and disseminated Russian disinformation. It was the Democratic National Committee, together with cutouts for the Clinton campaign, that paid for and helped peddle the Steele dossier.”
Robert Mueller’s special counsel report, released in April 2019, said Russians interfered in the 2016 election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” but “did not establish” any criminal collusion between any Russians and anyone in Trump’s orbit. Developments from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s own investigation of the Trump-Russia investigators are expected by the end of the summer.
Author: Jerry Dunleavy
Source: Washington Examiner: Ron Johnson subpoenas FBI Director Christopher Wray in Crossfire Hurricane investigation