Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes of Calif., gives his opening statement as Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, lashed out at the FBI after the Office of the Inspector General released a memo detailing numerous errors that the bureau made when seeking surveillance warrants. The lawmaker accused FBI agents of targeting President Trump’s 2016 campaign team for political purposes.
In an appearance on One American News Network, the representative pointed out the myriad of problems with the FBI’s conduct when it came to their investigation of the Trump campaign. “It’s impossible to read the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page; it’s impossible to look at the comments, the nasty comments coming out of the former director of the FBI, the CIA, the DNI, they’re all pundits on fake news media; it’s impossible to look at all of that and say ‘ oh well the average FBI guys, they were just making mistakes.’”
Nunes was addressing the notion that the FBI agents investigating the president and his team accidentally made errors in the FISA application process. Some have pointed to the fact that the OIG discovered errors in other applications that had nothing to do with the Trump campaign. But Nunes dismisses this idea, calling the FBI “experts” at subverting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process even before 2016. He explained:
“They were clearly targeting the Trump campaign. It just so happens they already knew how to do it because they had been doing it before. So the dirty cops that were in place, who had been basically breaking the rules, violating people’s civil liberties, they knew exactly what they were doing.”
He continued, pointing out that FBI agents had become “experts at dodging the process and not following the rules. And by the time it got to the Trump campaign, they knew exactly what they could do.”
The lawmaker then stated that the FBI was “hoping for something on Carter Page that they could leak out to dirty up the Trump campaign right at the end of October, right before the 2016 election.”
Nunes’ beliefs are shared by many on the right, who became more suspicious of the bureau’s conduct when it became clear that its agents were spying on the Trump campaign. The ire against the agency grew when people realized that the application for the warrant to surveil Trump advisor Carter Page was predicated primarily on the unsubstantiated and mostly debunked Steele dossier.
The FBI never charged Page with any crimes, nor did they charge any member of the Trump campaign with colluding with the Russian government to swing the results of the 2016 election. Put simply, the whole affair appears to be a politically-motivated bust.
Nunes said that in the end, it is up to U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been tasked with investigating the Russia probe, to determine whether or not key officials in the bureau like former FBI Director James Comey had been involved in any wrongdoing. However, Durham appears to be focused primarily on former CIA Director John Brennan at the moment.
Given the fact that the Justice Department has a disturbing tendency to allow its officials to go unpunished, it does not seem likely that we will see any prosecutions in the near future. In fact, if the fate of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is any indication, the FBI agents involved in the flawed FISA process won’t see any consequences for their conduct.
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