Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., says top FBI officials used the "full force of our intelligence agencies" against President Trump.
A new opinion piece from the House Intelligence Committee ranking member lays out how special counsel Robert Mueller's now-completed Russia investigation was tainted by a "political crisis whose full effects remain to be seen."
"The hoax itself was a gift to our nation’s adversaries, most notably Russia," Nunes wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner. "The abuse of intelligence for political purposes is insidious in any democracy. It undermines trust in democratic institutions, and it damages the reputation of the brave men and women who are working to keep us safe."
At the center of it all, Nunes said, is the so-called Trump dossier.
Last February, the House Intelligence Committee, then led by Nunes, released a memo asserting the dossier, which contained unverified claims about Trump's ties to Russia, was used by the FBI to help obtain the FISA warrants to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page, but key information, including its author Christopher Steele's anti-Trump bias and Democratic benefactors, was left out.
In his op-ed, Nunes said it is "impossible" to believe intelligence leaders did not know the danger of using Steele's dossier considering the "astounding level of anti-Trump animus shown by high-level FBI figures like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page."
Alleged FISA abuse is now the subject of a revamped investigation by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who last month demanded from the Justice Department a wide array of documentation related to the surveillance of Page and other members of the 2016 Trump campaign.
"[T]he Committee is concerned that the Woods procedures and a full presentment of material and relevant facts may not have occurred with regard to the applications for FISA warrants for (and the opening of the underlying investigations on) Carter Page and other individuals associated with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump,” Graham wrote in a letter. Enacted in 2001, the Woods Procedures were intended to protect U.S. citizens from improper surveillance by the government, seeking to "ensure accuracy with regard to the facts supporting probable cause."
For years there has been suspicion of intelligence agencies waging a political campaign against candidate and then President Trump. Allies of Trump often seize on a breadcrumb trail of odd activity, such as the infamous 2016 tarmac meeting between Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton when his wife Hillary Clinton was a presidential candidate and under investigation for her unauthorized email server. Also fueling speculation are comments such as that from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who in January 2017, just before Trump's inauguration, warned the president-elect that intelligence officials "have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."
Both Graham and Nunes are placing a great deal of faith in William Barr, who assumed office as attorney general in February, to crack down on alleged political bias in the upper levels of the DOJ and FBI.
Relegated to the minority after the midterm elections, subpoena power is outside of Nunes' grasp. But Nunes isn't standing idly by.
In the coming days, Nunes is expected to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department targeting key players in the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
"Having extensively investigated this abuse, House Intelligence Committee Republicans will soon be submitting criminal referrals on numerous individuals involved in these matters," Nunes wrote. "These people must be held to account to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future. The men and women of our intelligence community perform an essential service defending American national security, and their ability to carry out their mission cannot be compromised by biased actors who seek to transform the intelligence agencies into weapons of political warfare."