* This is the third installment on the effort to cover up Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. I commend you to read the original piece posted June 30, 2018, for a comprehensive discussion, and Part 2, “The Freedom Caucus is now the Russia Caucus,” posted July 15, 2018, focusing on former FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s testimony before Congress. I will continue to update accordingly.
We learned this week that Representative Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was responsible for two secret trips to London for the sole purpose of digging up information to discredit the Mueller Investigation and protect President Trump. A few months ago, Nunes dispatched two of his staffers to secretly go to London to surreptitiously approach British intelligence officials to obtain information to discredit former British Intelligence Agent Michael Steele. Steele had compiled information that could lead to money laundering and other impropriety between Trump businesses and questionable Russian financial interests that could help explain Russian support for the Trump Campaign and interference in the 2016 election. They returned unsuccessful.
Nunes recently took his own secret trip to London with the same singular intent. He attempted to use his official position in our government to gain access to individuals and information for his clandestine mission on behalf of the Trump cover up effort. He violated protocol by failing to notify the British government of his visit, especially as he claimed it was official Intelligence Committee business. The British were again not fooled and Nunes returned home apparently similarly unsuccessful as were his staffers. However, we do not know for certain due to the concealment of Nunes’ trips and personal effort to save the President. We only know about these trips because our British partners complained about the inappropriate efforts and lack of notice.
Nunes traveled officially to London, using his position as Committee Chair to try and gain access to his desired information. If this was official House Intelligence Committee business, there would have been proper notification to British authorities and the trips would not have been concealed from the American people as well as from Democratic members of the Committee. If this was legitimate business, the Committee would have been searching in an objective manner for any and all information pertaining to Russian interference or connection to the Trump Campaign, rather than specifically for evidence to discredit allegations against Trump. Nunes had previously stated publicly that it was his personal mission to protect and defend President Trump and discredit the Mueller Investigation. That is absolutely not official business of Congress. In fact, it is entirely contrary to the function and purpose of Congress.
The two trips to London were a fraud on the American people. As this was Nunes’ personal business for the President, not official Congressional business, the American taxpayers should not have funded these trips. Nunes or Trump should pay all associated costs from their personal funds. Nunes has obstructed justice through his ongoing efforts to cover up the Russian election interference and protect Trump (see original June 30th piece for in depth discussion of Nunes’ and the Committee’s activities). At a minimum, he had demonstrated a clear conflict of interest between his official duties and his personal efforts on behalf of Trump, which efforts run contrary to his official duties.
Speaker Ryan is long overdue in removing Nunes as Committee Chair based on him continuing to misuse his official position and official funds to cover up Russian interference. If his constituents vote Nunes back for another term, Congress should oust him based on overwhelming evidence of impropriety, disclosure of classified information, misuse of position, conflict of interest, and obstruction of justice. I can only hope that he will be indicted for his criminal conduct.
The cover up extends beyond Devin Nunes’ personal efforts. In recent hearings, Republican House members have called FBI Agent Peter Strzok and Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr to testify. They did not want any actual information from them that would contribute to the investigation or help explain the allegations at issue. The intent was to create a circus, fire up the Trump base, and tarnish the reputation of these career public servants in order to force them out of the Department of Justice.
Strzok foolishly sent texts about his personal views concerning Donald Trump and deserved to be reprimanded. However, he was immediately removed from the Mueller team, his actions had no impact at all on the investigation, and an independent review confirmed he had never acted on his personal views. He easily could have leaked the Trump investigation during the campaign but remained silent. Nevertheless, the President and his cover up allies demanded he be fired and he was, contrary to normal practice. Bruce Ohr was not involved in the Russia investigation, but his wife was an independent contractor who had done some work for Fusion GPS, an American firm who hired Michael Steele to work on the infamous Trump Dossier. Although Ohr met with Steele, there was no evidence of any impropriety or involvement on his part. The President and his cover up allies demand Ohr be fired as well.
Here is the crux of the matter. Neither Strzok nor Ohr warranted termination. However, both possessed expertise that threaten President Trump. Strzok was among the most experienced counter-intelligence agents in the FBI. Ohr was among the Department of Justice’s experts on organized crime, specifically the Russian mafia. Trump and his cover up allies want to rid Justice of the expertise and experience that could and would likely put the pieces together connecting Trump and Russia, Trump businesses to Russian organized crime, and explain the basis or Russia’s interest in helping Trump become President. Justice is a large, capable organization, but the Trump cover up team is doing its best to rid the agency of any expertise that could establish Trump misconduct. That is obstruction of justice amongst other things.
We must remain vigilant and demand truth and accountability rom all involved. We do not know what will ultimately be proven, but we do know the process must be allowed to continue free from such continued nefarious, political interference. More to follow…