Select members of Congress will get to view a version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report with fewer redactions as early as next week.
In a Thursday letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said that leaders in their committees and lawmakers in the “Gang of Eight” would have the chance to view the document in a secure reading room located at the Justice Department.
The Justice Department reading room will be open for those lawmakers from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. next week. Boyd said that the Justice Department would give the group the chance to view the document in secure spaces on Capitol Hill the following week.
The report will have all redactions related to ongoing investigations, sensitive national security information, and details on “peripheral third parties” removed, although the document will still contain grand jury redactions, which are subject to federal secrecy laws.
“Given the sensitive nature of the information, the additional information will be made available through in camera review contingent on an agreement by all individuals reviewing the less-redacted version of the Report that the material provided only to the above-identified members and staff will remain confidential,” Boyd said in the letter.
Boyd went on to say that the information redacted in the public version of the report is sensitive and confidential and “should not be shared in any form” without approval from the Justice Department.
After Barr’s 9:30 a.m. press conference, Mueller’s report was released at 11 a.m. The document showed that his investigation found that Trump did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 presidential election but made no determination on whether the president obstructed justice. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cleared Trump of those claims in a four-page summary to Congress last month.
YUMA, Ariz. — A Republican senator who has backed President Trump’s call for additional physical security at the southern border said Wednesday the current migrant surge cannot be solved with a wall or additional physical measures, and that it will only be stopped by legal changes.
Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said building more wall or fence along the U.S.-Mexico border will not stop the “crisis” from “continuing to get worse.”
“Until we close these loopholes, even if we fully secured the border, with infrastructure, border wall, agents, roads and technology, if these loopholes are not closed, we’re going to continue to have thousands of individuals that are crossing over and taking advantage of these loopholes and overwhelming communities,” McSally told reporters at a press conference during a recess visit to Yuma.
The first-term junior senator said she is “talking often” with the Republican mayor of Yuma, Douglas Nicholls, about solutions to the city’s being inundating with migrants. On Tuesday, Yuma declared a state of emergency, saying it was unable to house and care for the roughly 22,000 people who have been released from federal custody in the state of Arizona over the past month.
Yuma’s shelters can hold 150 people comfortably and 200 if necessary. McSally said on Tuesday night, the shelter was set to have 320 people in the facility because Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities were also at capacity or forced to release people under legal time constraints.
Border Patrol Yuma Sector spokesman Justin Kallinger told the Washington Examiner Wednesday the city and nongovernmental organizations are not the only ones with their hands tied.
“We’re not only at a personnel loss, but a facility loss,” he said.
Yuma’s three Border Patrol stations can hold a maximum of 500 people. Agents are supposed to process migrants within 72 hours then transfer them to ICE; however, they have been apprehending between 100 and 350 people per day. As a result, people are being directly released from their custody because ICE is out of room.
Instead, McSally pushed for a legislative fix, the narrower, the better. She said the Flores settlement agreement needs to be amended to detain families for more than 20 days while they go through asylum proceedings; the initial credible fear interview must have higher standards; and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act should be changed so that unaccompanied children arriving from all countries — not just those from places other than Mexico and Canada — can be immediately deported.
“I think we need to narrow some emergency legislation even more,” she said.
The senator said she is talking with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on “what loophole language needs to be” included in a bill and how to move it forward for a vote.
McSally shot down the idea of taking dollars from the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Administration. She said her focus was on immediate solutions, though it’s not clear how soon a legislative solution could happen.
The Trump administration began warning of a “crisis” at the border late last year. Since then, the number of people apprehended for illegal entry has continued to spike from 70,000 then to 92,000 in March.
Top Senate Republicans are renewing the push for access to more information on the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server now that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has concluded.
In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, three Senate chairman argue the Justice Department can no longer cite the ongoing Russian interference investigation as a reason not to comply with their demand for a briefing.
“Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wrote in their letter.
The Republicans previously requested information on a classified appendix to the Justice Department inspector general’s report titled, “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election,” that was released in June 2018.
“The classified appendix raises significant issues associated with the FBI’s failure to review certain highly classified information in support of its Midyear investigation,” they wrote, referring to the code name for the email investigation. “In particular, the Inspector General noted that it learned that the FBI acquired classified material that ‘may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.’ The FBI even drafted a memorandum in May of 2016 stating that access to the information was ‘necessary to complete the investigation.’ However, that memorandum was never completed.”
The 568-page inspector general report found former FBI Director James Comey was “insubordinate” and “affirmatively concealed” his intentions from Justice Department leadership during the investigation into Clinton’s private email server. The report also slammed former FBI investigator Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who were having an affair with each other, for anti-Trump tweets that suggested “a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”
Though the report criticized FBI actions as unorthodox and at times improper, ultimately it concluded that this did not change the outcome of the Clinton email investigation.
Mueller concluded his investigation last month, issuing a nearly 400-page report to Barr on his findings. Barr intends to release a redacted version of the full report on Thursday.
Republican investigators are concerned special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report could be tainted by misleading facts.
Some top GOP lawmakers have accused the special counsel’s team of providing evidence without necessary context, allowing Democrats and other critics of the president to spin the narrative in their favor. Some Democrats have argued it will prove there was “collusion” between Trump’s campaign and Russia, no matter if there’s evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
Attorney General William Barr released a summary last month that said Mueller’s team was unable to establish the Trump campaign was involved in criminal conspiracy with Russia. A redacted version of the full, roughly 400-page report is due out Thursday.
Last month, before Mueller submitted his final report to the Justice Department, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned Barr in a letter that Mueller’s “selective” use of emails in the special counsel’s court filings, particularly those of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos.
In charges against the campaign adviser, prosecutors included a footnote that said emails obtained by their team showed a “Campaign official suggested ‘low level’ staff should go to Russia.” The senators, who both sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Mueller’s team neglected to share the context that those emails were voluntarily provided to the special counsel and they “actually show that the Trump Campaign wanted someone ‘low level’ to decline these types of invitations.”
In another allegation of cherry-picking, the senators said prosecutors did not disclose that Papadopoulos had conversations with representatives of several governments, not just Russia, and his supervisor Sam Clovis had opposed a potential trip to Russia.
“The indictments that were made by the Mueller team, I think some are very questionable, and I think there’s pieces of them that always read like Russian spy novels,” Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this month.
“That was done on purpose to create a narrative to make the American people think, as they were indicting these people, that somehow this had to do with collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Nunes said.
As part of special counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI related to meetings and conversations with Russian officials in 2016 and in December spent nearly two weeks in prison.
Republicans have also pointed to the charges brought against former longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Prosecutors said Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office twice in 2016, but did not give the context that he had sent emails to a general press inbox, sources told RealClearInvestigations.
In a rare display of bipartisanship, Nunes and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., sent a letter to Barr last month asking for Mueller to provide them a classified briefing on all the findings in his investigation.
Running against President Donald Trump in 2020 means having a message that doesn’t revolve around him, Democratic president Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday.
“The way we have to approach it is on one hand, when he says something that isn’t true, we have to say so,” the South Bend, Indiana mayor, whose presidential campaign has been blowing up in recent weeks, told CNN’s “New Day.”
“Then we have to move on very quickly,” he added. “A really robust message for my party can’t be one that revolves around the personality of somebody from the other party. We have to have a message that will make as much sense in 2040 as it does in 2020.”
He said he thinks the focus placed against Trump in 2016 was the result of a media environment, combine with party strategy, and that didn’t work to defeat him.
“I think a lot of Democrats were so horrified by who the Republicans were nominating, we almost forgot that don’t vote for the other guy is not the same as having your own message,” Buttigieg said.
While there is a great deal of division in the United States, Americans do agree on the outlines of a bipartisan immigration reform plan, said Buttigieg, adding that he thinks the reform measure pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “is the right template,” but it needs to have more protection for “dreamers.”
He also commented on his ongoing arguments with Vice President Mike Pence, saying he does believe the vice president has the right to his religious beliefs. However, Buttigieg said it’s an issue when Pence uses his faith to hurt other people.
Source: NewsMax Politics
Although Republicans were pleased that Special Counsel Robert Mueller said he was unable to establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, they fear what they see as his practice of distorting facts during his investigation will color his final report, which Attorney General William Barr is expected to release to Congress in redacted form this week.
Democrats are convinced that it will show examples of “collusion” between Trump and Russia, even if there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
Seeking to manage public perceptions about the Mueller report as much as Democrats are, Republicans say their counterparts are bent on cherry-picking its details to make it still look as if President Trump coordinated with Russia, part of their effort to keep the collusion narrative alive heading into the 2020 presidential election. They fear Mueller will make it easy for them to continue spinning that tale.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: Mueller distorted Papadopoulos emails.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Senior Republicans on investigative committees on Capitol Hill, who have reviewed some of the same evidence Mueller’s investigators have examined, complain that the special counsel’s team of mostly Democratic prosecutors shaded evidence in charging documents filed against a number of Trump associates for process crimes unrelated to collusion (mostly lying to investigators) to suggest a broad conspiracy. They say that the special counsel and prosecutors misled the court and the media by, among other things, editing the contents of emails to cast a sinister shadow on otherwise innocuous communications among Trump advisers and by omitting exculpatory information.
They cite charging documents filed against Trump advisers George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen and former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as examples.
“The indictments that were made by the Mueller team are very questionable, and there’s pieces of them that read like Russian spy novels,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
“That was done on purpose,” he added, “to create a narrative to make the American people think, as they were indicting these people, that somehow this had to do with collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
For example, in filing false-statement charges against former Trump campaign adviser Papadopoulos in October 2017, Mueller’s team included a footnote that said emails obtained by the special counsel revealed that a Trump “campaign official suggested ‘low level’ staff should go to Russia.”
As the Senate Judiciary Committee pointed out in a secret letter to Mueller, the special counsel neglected to mention that the emails had been provided to it by the Trump campaign and they showed the campaign wanted someone “low level” to decline these types of invitations.
The distortions led the Washington Post, CNN and other major media to “misinterpret the nature of the internal campaign dialogue” as attempts by the Trump campaign to coordinate activities with Moscow, according to Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, the top Republicans on the committee.
Sens. Graham and Dianne Feinstein of the Judiciary Committee: Graham suspects Robert Mueller of distortion, Feinstein suspects Attorney General William Barr of the same.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Mueller’s office declined repeated requests for comment. A spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, did not respond to a request for a statement regarding Graham’s and Grassley’s concerns about Mueller’s objectivity. Feinstein on April 11 joined five other Democratic senators in signing a letter to Barr accusing the attorney general of working with Republicans to “perpetuate a partisan narrative designed to undermine the work of the Special Counsel,” arguing that their doubts about the Russia investigation only serve “to legitimize President Trump’s dangerous attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI.”
But Republicans have pressed their own doubts about Mueller. Last month, in another little-noticed letter to Barr, Senate Judiciary Committee investigators elaborated on the Papadopoulos matter and what they described as Mueller unfairly cherry-picking from internal Trump campaign emails. They claimed that he and his prosecutors had cited only fragments of the emails in the charging document against Papadopoulos. And they pointed out that this “selective use” of the emails made it seem as if the adviser and the campaign were working behind the scenes with Russia, when in fact that was not the case.
Taken in their fuller context, the emails showed Papadopoulos was in fact discouraged from meeting with Russians. Additional context showed that Papadopoulos, acting as a foreign policy adviser, had conversations with representatives from multiple governments, not just Russia, and that his supervisor Sam Clovis, along with campaign chair Paul Manafort, had opposed any trip to Russia for Trump and the campaign.
Mueller left all of this out of the complaint he personally signed against Papadopoulos in October 2017.
Citing the misleading complaint, CNN erroneously reported that “records describe an email between Trump campaign officials suggesting they were considering acting on Russian invitations to go to Russia.” The story also stated that the Papadopoulos charge was “the campaign’s clearest connection so far to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.”
The following month, after Senate investigators had compared the emails quoted in the Papadopoulos filing with the full emails they had obtained separately from the Trump campaign, they called Mueller out on the omissions, arguing he took information out of context.
George Papadopoulos: Probers made it seem he was “vaguely connected with the collusion aspect” of Mueller’s case.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File
“In this matter, the public deserves to have the full context for the information the special counsel chooses to release,” then-Senate Judiciary chair Grassley wrote Mueller in a four-page letter. “The glaring lack of it feeds speculation and innuendo that distorts the facts.”
Mueller objected to the committee releasing the full emails at the time.
Papadopoulos said he handed over all his emails, text messages and other communications with the Trump campaign to Mueller’s investigators. He said they shaded the emails to make it seem as though he was “vaguely connected with the collusion aspect” of Mueller’s case.
Also listed on the charging document against Papadopoulos was Mueller prosecutor Jeannie Rhee, a former top Obama appointee and Clinton donor who Papadopoulos said was biased against him and had political “conflicts of interest” investigating him and the Republican campaign. She was one of 13 registered Democrats on Mueller’s team of 17 prosecutors.
Papadopoulos said Rhee repeatedly threatened him, telling him he was “looking at 25 years in prison” if he didn’t cooperate with Mueller. Ultimately he pleaded guilty to making a false statement – he claimed he did not know that Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese academic who had told him the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, had connections to the Russian government when, in fact, he did. There are no reports he tried to track down the “dirt” or told anyone in the Trump campaign about Mifsud. Ultimately he was sentenced to 14 days in jail.
Formerly a senior adviser to Attorney General Eric Holder, Rhee was a partner at Mueller’s old law firm, WilmerHale. In 2015, she defended the Clinton Foundation in a lawsuit that claimed it operated as a racketeering enterprise shaking down donors in exchange for government favors. In 2015 and 2016, she contributed $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In his new book, “Deep State Target,” Papadopoulos revealed that the FBI investigator handling his case and leading interrogations of him was FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, whom the Justice Department inspector general last year exposed for anti-Trump bias. Clinesmith was kicked off the Mueller team in February 2018 after the inspector general alerted Mueller to instant messages he wrote on FBINet revealing he was “devastated” over Clinton’s loss on Election Day and would join the “resistance” against Trump. He also called Vice President Mike Pence “stupid.”
Michael Flynn: Mueller omitted an exculpatory detail, that anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok thought he was truthful.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Republicans say the special counsel also demonstrated collusion bias in its complaint against Trump National Security Adviser Flynn, former prosecutors say.
Mueller charged the retired general with lying to FBI investigators about his conversation with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, even though one of the investigators — noted Trump critic Peter Strzok — “had the impression at the time that Flynn was not lying or did not think he was lying,” according to internal FBI documents uncovered by Flynn’s defense team.
In fact, former FBI Director James Comey has said Flynn provided truthful answers and wasn’t intentionally misleading investigators on Jan. 24, 2017, when he was questioned by Strzok and another agent.
Mueller omitted the exculpatory information from the charging documents he filed against Flynn.
“Flynn’s charges were made up so Mueller could get his Russian connection,” said former federal prosecutor and well-known Trump defender Victoria Toensing. “The complaint he filed against Flynn is warped.”
A third troubling example Republicans point to is the special counsel’s complaints against Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, which like other court documents included tantalizing hints of collusion that dissolved upon closer inspection. They say Mueller used the so-called Moscow Project talks – Trump’s hope to build or at least brand a Russian skyscraper — to connect Trump directly to Vladimir Putin during the campaign, while withholding from the court details that would exonerate Trump of such collusion.
Mueller omitted the fact that Michael Cohen, above, did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin, and had resorted to sending emails to a general press mailbox.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File
A closer reading of the November 2018 charging document filed with Cohen’s false-statement plea deal reveals that Mueller — who personally signed the document — omitted a fuller accounting of Cohen’s emails and text messages which, according to Capitol Hill investigators who have seen them, make the deal look far less nefarious than portrayed in the filing and in the press.
On page 7, Mueller mentions that Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office on Jan. 14, 2016, and again on Jan. 16, 2016. But Mueller omitted the fact that Cohen did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin, and had resorted to sending the emails to a general press mailbox.
“It’s clear from personal messages he sent in 2015 and 2016 that the Trump Organization did not have formal lines of communication set up with Putin’s office or the Kremlin during the campaign,” one Hill investigator said. “There was no secret ‘back channel.’”
“So as far as collusion goes,” the source added, “the project is actually more exculpatory than incriminating for Trump and his campaign.”
In the end, neither Putin nor any Kremlin official was directly involved in the scuttled Moscow Project, sources say. Moreover, neither Cohen nor Trump traveled to Moscow in support of the deal, as real estate broker and Cohen business associate Felix Sater had urged. No meetings with Russian government officials took place.
It was Sater, a Russian immigrant with a checkered past, who came up with the tower project idea in 2015.
But the project never went anywhere partly because Sater didn’t have the pull with Putin he claimed to have.
Sources who have seen Sater’s still-secret transcripts of closed-door testimony say Sater, whom Cohen described as a “salesman,” testified to the House intelligence panel in late 2017 that his communications with Cohen about putting Trump and Putin on a stage for a “ribbon-cutting” for a Trump Tower in Moscow were “mere puffery” to try to promote the project and get it off the ground.
Also according to his still-undisclosed testimony, Sater swore none of those communications involved taking any action to influence the 2016 presidential election. None of the emails and texts between Sater and Cohen mention Russian plans or efforts to hack Democrats’ campaign emails or influence the election.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative nonpartisan government watchdog group, said the criminal-information statement of offense against Cohen reflects political bias. He said the special counsel appeared more interested in trying to draw connections to Russia than highlighting exculpatory evidence in what he called “a transparent attempt to try to embarrass the president.”
Major news organizations seized on Mueller’s misrepresentations.
CNN said the charging documents, which reference the president as “Individual 1,” suggest Trump had a working relationship with Russia’s president and that “Putin had leverage over Trump” because of the project.
“Well into the 2016 campaign, one of the president’s closest associates was in touch with the Kremlin on this project, as we now know, and Michael Cohen says he was lying about it to protect the president,” said CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
“Cohen was communicating directly with the Kremlin,” Blitzer added.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said the development was so “enormous” that Trump “might not finish his term.” At MSNBC, pundits maintained the court papers prove “Trump secretly interacted with Putin’s own office.”
“Now we have evidence that there was direct communication between the Trump Organization and Putin’s office on this. I mean, this is collusion,” said David Corn of Mother Jones, co-author of “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”
Adam Schiff, now the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump was dealing directly with Putin on real estate ventures during the campaign.
Clinton supporter Rhee’s name is the first listed under Mueller’s signature as one of the prosecutors involved in the Cohen case, appearing at the end of the government’s December 2018 sentencing memorandum filed against him.
Mueller’s office declined repeated requests for comment from RealClearInvestigations. “Thanks, we’ll decline to comment,” spokesman Peter Carr reiterated Sunday evening
Attorney General William Barr: Republicans fear juiced indictments color final report.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Barr last week pledged to Democrats that he won’t withhold any derogatory information about the president regarding “collusion” contained in Mueller’s report.
But Republican lawmakers warn that if the special counsel’s juiced indictments are any indication, his report won’t be any more objective in detailing underlying evidence and telling the whole truth about Trump campaign activities in 2016.
Still puzzling to many Republicans is why Mueller, reportedly a Republican himself, would feint criminal collusion findings.
It’s not hard to see why many of the partisan Democrats he hired for his prosecution team, led by Clinton booster and anti-Trump “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann, would want to leave the impression Trump was actively cooperating with Moscow to steal the election from Clinton. But why Mueller?
Former prosecutors and investigators think Mueller’s hidden agenda was to protect the institutions of the FBI and Justice Department, as well as the broader intelligence community the agencies increasingly had become a part of following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
They describe Mueller as “an establishment guy” who spent some 20 years loyally working for the Justice Department and FBI, which had come under attack as politicized and even dirty for employing two standards in investigating Clinton and Trump during the 2016 campaign; they needed to be protected from what he viewed as a hostile takeover by the Trump administration, these people say
“Why did Mueller take the job? Not simply to protect the FBI but the entire intelligence community that he was part of,” said veteran FBI agent and lawyer Mark Wauck. “It’s hard to overestimate his interest in protecting DOJ from a Trump takeover.”
“To do that,” he added, “it would be helpful to not necessarily prove ‘collusion’ but show at least a colorable case that the IC could claim a reasonable belief in collusion.”
Mueller’s “hiring of extreme partisans suggest that the view of Trump was of an existential threat [to the IC] that had to be, at a minimum, neutered but hopefully dumped.”
To that end, some suggest Mueller had a more Machiavellian plan: swaying the 2018 congressional elections to change the House majority and trigger impeachment hearings.
Former federal prosecutor and commentator Andrew McCarthy pointed out that Mueller knew he had no collusion case more than a year before the midterm elections, yet kept teasing collusion in court filings throughout the 2018 campaign.
“When Mueller closed his investigation, he almost certainly knew for about a year and a half that there was no collusion case,” McCarthy said, adding that, among other things, Mueller let the surveillance warrant on Carter Page lapse in early fall of 2017.
Did prolonging his investigation influence the 2018 election results?
Exit polling shows that 49% of voters – nearly 1 in 2 – said they believed the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the 2016 election.
Source: Real Clear Politics
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., says he expects more criminal referrals will be sent to the Justice Department based on an inspector general’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse investigation.
Last week, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., sent a notification letter to Attorney General William Barr saying his team “identified several potential violations of the law” as part of an investigation into origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and hopes to set up a meeting to discuss.
During an interview on Fox News, Meadows said it is “highly likely” more criminal referrals will follow that “correspond with what [Congressman] Nunes has already put forth.”
“The big story that has not been told … [are] leaks to the Washington post and the New York Times that would indicate well beyond what the FBI should have been doing in terms of classified information and I’m sure that the IG will look at that, but more importantly go even beyond that when attorney general Barr looks at the broader accept of this investigation,” the GOP investigator said on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Meadows, a member of the House Oversight Committee, met with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz last week along with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. In a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Jordan said Horowitz told them he “expects” a report on his investigation into possible FISA abuse by the DOJ and FBI “in May or June,” confirming what Barr testified earlier in the day to a congressional panel.
Horowitz announced the initiation of the FISA abuse investigation in March 2018 after requests from both then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Republican members in Congress. The lawmakers claimed the Justice Department and FBI had abused the FISA process and misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in their investigation and surveillance of President Trump and his associates during the campaign, as well as during the Trump administration.
Onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page was the subject of a FISA warrant and three renewals.
During his interview Sunday, host Maria Bartiromo asked Meadows to explain how the FBI “used” the media by leaking “fake news” to use as evidence for the FISA application process.
“What we would find is people within the department of justice primarily the FBI would actually give information to the media, then those reports would actually come out and they would say ‘Wow, we have these reports now,’ and then they would take the actual reports and use those as the probable cause to do a further investigation,” Meadows said. “It was a big circular reasoning. You’ll see all of that come out, I believe, when inspector general’s report comes out.”
Meadows stressed that he has not yet seen Horowitz’s findings, but claimed the evidence is plain for everyone to see.
“Well I’d say the lions share of all of this after August of 2016 leading up to the election, the lions share of this, over 90-95% of this, was either the dossier or open source Intel which came from media reports, so there’s not any there there there, and that’s what even [former FBI agent] Peter Strzok said early on,” Meadows said. “And so when we look at this, this is a large fabrication which predicated much of the investigation that we’ve been reporting on for two years.”
Barr is putting together a team to examine the FBI’s initial investigation into President Trump’s campaign in the summer of 2016. He testified last week it will be substantiated by Horowitz’s findings.
Bartiromo said there was a “strong suggestion” by Barr that alleged misconduct may have taken place beyond the FBI, at the CIA, State Department, and elsewhere. Meadows said Barr is “spot on” to expand his investigation beyond Horowitz’s probe, and specifically cited former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic.
“I can tell you based on unclassified documents we’ve reviewed, we saw that [John] Brennan’s name with the CIA, we’ve seen others within the State Department mention very early on and they were actually coordinating back and forth with the FBI in the early stages the investigation,” Meadows said. “So I think part of the problem we have here is is that it was not just a few people within the FBI. It was a coordinated effort with the intelligence communities outside of the FBI and to the extent of that I think AG Barr is going to look at that.”
In addition to the DOJ inspector general’s probe, U.S. Attorney John Huber is also conducting an investigation. A March 2018 letter from Republicans in Congress asked then-Attorney General Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to look into “certain decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice and FBI in 2016 and 2017” which they believed showed “evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with investigating serious cases.” Instead of a special counsel, Sessions tasked Huber with this mission later in March 2018. The status of his parallel probe is not known.
Senate side, Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says there will be investigations into the origins of Mueller’s investigation and potential bias in the Justice Department and FBI, including a look at FISA warrants.
Democrats have long argued that the FBI acted appropriately in obtaining the authority to spy on the Trump campaign due to concerns about Russian influence. In a rebuttal to the House Intelligence GOP memo which alleged the FBI did not reveal the dossier’s Democratic benefactors or Steele’s anti-Trump bias in obtaining FISA warrants to spy on Page, Democrats argued the DOJ and FBI “met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.”
Nunes’ criminal referrals, which include two related to charges of conspiracy to lie to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, came together as special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Although Barr said in a summary of Mueller’s team could not establish criminal conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia, some Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., insist there is clear evidence of collusion.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are sounding the alarm over plans by Nunes to meet privately with Barr to discuss the criminal referrals.
Sen. Lindsey Graham plans to introduce a legislative package that would change the country’s asylum laws in an effort to stem the influx of migrants crossing the southern border.
The South Carolina Republican revealed his immigration plan during an interview Sunday.
“I’m tired of talking about this problem. I want to fix it. I think all Americans should want both parties to fix this problem,” Graham told Fox News. “The president has correctly identified the crisis at the border, now it’s time to have a legislative solution. You need to change our laws for this to stop, so I’ll be introducing a package — and hopefully with Democratic support — that will change our asylum laws. Ninety percent of the people apply for asylum never make it, so the standard needs to change.”
Graham said he plans to put together the legislative package once Congress returns to Washington, D.C., from recess on April 29. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which Graham helms, will then mark up the measure, he said.
“Doing what we’re doing is not working,” Graham said. “The crisis has to come to an end and the only way to bring it to an end is to change our laws.”
In addition to altering the asylum laws, Graham raised issues with the 1997 Flores settlement, which prohibits the federal government from holding children in family detention centers for more than 20 days.
He also cited a “cork” in a federal trafficking law that prohibits immigration authorities from sending migrant children back to non-contiguous countries.
“So the only place that we can send a child back is to Mexico and Canada,” Graham said. “We need to be sending these kids back to Central America where they come from.”
President Trump has warned that the flow of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is a humanitarian and national security crisis and has taken unilateral steps designed to curb illegal immigration. Several of the president’s actions, however, have been blocked by the federal courts.
The White House has also urged Congress to work with the president to fix the nation’s immigration laws.