Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, sharply criticized the Mueller report during a June 12 hearing, saying the report failed to address key players and irregularities in the FBI’s investigation, and selectively edited certain information.
Nunes also called out his Democratic counterparts, saying that former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report did debunk many of the false claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that had been perpetuated by Democrats, including members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Witnesses at the hearing—titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1″—included Robert Anderson and Stephanie Douglas, described by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as former executives from the FBI’s counterintelligence division. Left out of Schiff’s description of Anderson and Douglas was that both witnesses had worked under former FBI Director Mueller prior to his role as special counsel.
In his opening statement, Nunes noted that allegations of collusion with Russia on the part of the Trump campaign were introduced by Democrats in this same committee more than two years ago.
“The entire scheme has now imploded and the collusion accusation has been exposed as a hoax,” Nunes said.
Nunes then summed up the catch-22 position that Democrats now appear to find themselves in:
“But it’s clear they couldn’t stop this grotesque spectacle even if they wanted to. After years of false accusations and McCarthyite smears, the collusion hoax now defines the Democratic Party. The hoax is what they have in place of a governing philosophy or a constructive vision for our country.”
Nunes also addressed the true start of the FBI investigation, noting “this investigation could have begun in 2015, because we know some of the same players were having run-ins with individuals that have questionable ties to Western intelligence or possibly political campaign operatives. But officially, they’ve said that it started at the end of July .”
Nunes asked the witnesses if it was normal to have an FBI informant who’s been “hired to investigate the Trump campaign by the FBI, hired by the Clinton campaign to investigate the Trump campaign, then talking to the media, talking to people within the State Department. Is this normal activity by the FBI or Department of Justice?”
Nunes criticized the testimony of Anderson and Douglas, noting: “I’m just shocked that there’s not more former DOJ and FBI officials who aren’t out there saying, ‘Look, this is wrong’…This counterintelligence department over at the FBI, I think, is in big trouble. The fact that you guys are sitting here, former FBI officials, and not saying, basically making the case that it’s okay to use these very special powers to target a political campaign, it really troubles me.”
As an example, Nunes brought up the Trump Tower meeting that took place on June 9, 2016, and highlighted the fact that Fusion GPS, which employed Christopher Steele, was actually working for Russians in the Prevezon case at the same time that they were working for the Clinton campaign. Nunes asked the Democrat witnesses if they were aware of this potential conflict. Notably, neither Anderson nor Douglas had knowledge of Fusion’s dual roles.
“So you have Glenn Simpson, who’s working not only for the Clinton campaign, to dirty up Trump. He’s also working for the Russians to dirty up anybody who doesn’t oppose the Magnitsky Act. He’s meeting with all those individuals. Now you, as former counterintelligence people, would that raise any flags to you at all? That a Clinton campaign operative arm is working for these same Russians – happen to be the same Russians that are meeting at Trump Tower, offering supposed dirt?”
Douglas answered, saying: “I think it’s not in a vacuum. It’s not just about President Trump’s campaign or Secretary Clinton’s campaign. It’s about the context to [inaudible] information. Regardless of whose campaign it was, if there were significant concerns or things that we thought that could raise to that, I think it absolutely would be worth looking at.”
Nunes responded saying that the Mueller report “doesn’t talk about Fusion GPS at all, even though of all their questionable contacts with the Russians.” Fusion GPS employees, including co-founder Glenn Simpson, invoked their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination before the House Intelligence Committee when questioned about these matters.
Mueller Report, Steele Dossier Comparisons
Nunes also compared the Mueller report to the Steele dossier, noting that it’s “written in the same spirit, and with the same purpose, as the Steele dossier, which was once championed by Democrats on this committee, but which they rarely mentioned after it was exposed as yet another Democrat-created hoax.”
The Epoch Times recently published an article detailing the ways in which the Mueller report appears to have been carefully worded by lawyers working under Mueller, and perhaps Mueller himself, in a manner designed to inflict political damage on the president.
Sections of the report were selectively edited to provide damaging portrayals and apparent misrepresentations. Examples include the representation of the transcript of a phone call between the president’s attorney, John Dowd, and the attorney for former national security adviser Michael Flynn; a letter from the attorney of an individual referenced in the Mueller report; and a sequence of dates concerning the meeting between Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer.
There are also troubling and disturbing details surrounding a heavily used witness in the Mueller report, George Nader, that are only now coming forth.
More recently, it has been reported that important details regarding Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were left out of the Mueller report. Kilimnik reportedly served as a “sensitive” intelligence source for the State Department and “informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.” The Mueller team, for reasons unknown, omitted those details from its report.
Nunes laid forth some crucial non-findings that undercut long-standing narratives and claims of collusion.
Contents of Mueller Report
Nunes, who referred to the Mueller report as “the Mueller dossier,” noted that it “either debunked many of their favorite conspiracy theories or did not even find them worth discussing.” Nunes then provided a specific list:
- “Mueller’s finding that Michael Cohen did not travel to Prague to conspire with Russians.
- No evidence that Carter Page conspired with Russians.
- No mention of Paul Manafort visiting Julian Assange in London.
- No mention of secret communications between a Trump Tower computer server and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
- And no mention of former NRA lawyer Cleta Mitchell or her supposed knowledge of a scheme to launder Russian money through the NRA for the Trump campaign. Insinuations against Mitchell originated with Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson and were first made public in a document published by Democrats on this committee.”
Notably, Mueller found no evidence of collusion on the part of the Trump campaign and made no conclusion regarding obstruction, leaving the matter up to Attorney General Bill Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for a legal decision.
Barr recently addressed the obstruction issue, noting that Mueller took into account the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion that a sitting president could not be indicted and also included “a number of other prudential judgments about fairness and other things and decided that the best course was not for him to reach a decision” on obstruction.
“The Attorney General has previously stated that the Special Counsel repeatedly affirmed that he was not saying that, but for the OLC opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice.”
“The Special Counsel’s report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination—one way or the other—about whether the President committed a crime. There is no conflict between these statements.”
During Mueller’s somewhat confusing press conference, many interpreted Mueller’s comments to mean that the OLC opinion was the singular issue. In the joint statement, both Muller and the DOJ stated that there would be no conclusion on obstruction even without the OLC opinion.
Barr, who said he believed Mueller could have reached a conclusion on obstruction, said that both he and Rosenstein didn’t agree with much of the legal analysis contained in the report.
During a recent interview with CBS News, Barr pointed out that, in order for the determination of a crime, the DOJ would have had to prove corrupt intent, noting that “the report itself points out that one of the likely motivations here was the president’s frustration with Comey saying something publicly and saying a different thing privately, and refusing to correct the record.”
Nunes, who was far more blunt in his assessment, said that the real purpose of the Mueller report “was to help Democrats impeach the president in the absence of any evidence of collusion.” Thus, Nunes noted, the report includes:
- “A long litany of ordinary contacts between Trump associates and Russians, as if a certain number of contacts indicate a conspiracy even if no conversations actually created or even discussed a conspiracy.
- Excerpts from a voicemail from Trump attorney John Dowd that the Mueller team selectively edited to make it seem threatening and nefarious.
- No comment on the close relationship between Democrat operatives at Fusion GPS and multiple Russians who participated in the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower. In fact, no comment on Fusion GPS at all.
- No useful information on figures who played key roles in the investigation such as Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, or Christopher Steele.
- No useful information about the many irregularities that marred the FBI’s Russia investigation.”
Nunes also observed how the Mueller report went to lengths to cite “dozens of articles from the reporters and publications that were most responsible for perpetuating the Russia hoax.” Nunes then described how this, in turn, provided a feedback loop for Democrat claims of obstruction:
“[I]ntelligence leakers spin a false story to the media, the media publishes the story, Mueller cites the story, and the media and the Democrats then fake outrage at Mueller’s findings.”
Nunes closed his prepared remarks with sharp criticism of the mainstream media, noting “the media have abandoned their traditional watchdog role and instead have become the mouthpiece of a cabal of intelligence leakers.”
Barr, who has been softer in his criticisms, noted that Mueller “did some impressive work in his investigation, you know, identifying some of the Russian hackers and their influence campaign.” At the same time, Barr highlighted failures on the part of the Obama administration, noting “if that kind of work had been done starting in 2016, things could have been a lot different.”
Although we have heard from many voices regarding the Mueller report, we still have not heard from Mueller himself. In an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) was recently asked about the chance that Mueller would testify before Congress.
“If the Democrats are smart, they will let him be done with it, because I can tell you, [Rep.] Jim Jordan and I are very prepared to ask a series of at least eight different questions that would indicate perhaps a lack of thoroughness on behalf of Robert Mueller and his team about the Mueller report,” Meadows said.
Meadows continued, noting “so if they come, they need to be prepared to be cross-examined with the facts, which would paint a very different picture on behalf of this president, and give credence to why he has been so upset with the ongoing investigation.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) recently said that he intends to bring Mueller in to testify “way before” the end of summer, but has taken no specific actions in this regard.
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Author: Jeff Carlson