associate editor John Bussey weighs in on latest
developments in the special counsel investigation.
– Two senior Justice Department officials have
confirmed to Fox News that the department's Office of Inspector
General is reviewing the role played in the Hillary Clinton email
investigation by Peter Strzok, a former deputy director for
counterintelligence at the FBI who was removed from the staff of
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III earlier this year, after
Mueller learned that Strzok had exchanged anti-Trump texts with a
source close to the matter said the OIG probe, which will examine
Strzok's roles in a number of other politically sensitive cases,
should be completed by "very early next year."
task will be exceedingly complex, given Strzok's consequential
portfolio. He participated in the FBI's fateful interview with
Hillary Clinton on July 2, 2016 – just days before then-FBI
Director James Comey announced he was declining to recommend
prosecution of Mrs. Clinton in connection with her use, as secretary
of state, of a private email server.
deputy FBI director for counterintelligence, Strzok also enjoyed
liaison with various agencies in the intelligence community,
including the CIA, then led by Director John Brennan.
investigators told Fox News they have long regarded Strzok as a key
figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the
infamous anti-Trump "dossier" and launched a counterintelligence
investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately
came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign
"dossier" was a compendium of salacious and largely unverified
allegations about then-candidate Trump and others around him that
was compiled by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The firm's
bank records, obtained by House investigators, revealed that the
project was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic
Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has sought
documents and witnesses from the Department of Justice and FBI to
determine what role, if any, the dossier played in the move to place
a Trump campaign associate under foreign surveillance.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
himself briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, the sources said, but
within months of that session House Intelligence Committee
investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there
was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly
obstructing the House probe into the dossier.
early October, Nunes personally asked Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein – who has overseen the Trump-Russia probe since the
recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – to make Strzok available
to the committee for questioning, sources said.
Strzok’s removal from the Mueller team had been publicly reported in
August, the Justice Department never disclosed the anti-Trump texts
to the House investigators. The denial of access to Strzok was
instead predicated, sources said, on broad "personnel" grounds.
a month had elapsed, House investigators – having issued three
subpoenas for various witnesses and documents – formally recommended
to Nunes that DOJ and FBI be held in contempt of Congress. Nunes
continued pressing DOJ, including a conversation with Rosenstein as
recently as last Wednesday.
turned out to be 12 days after DOJ and FBI had made Strzok available
to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own
parallel investigation into the allegations of collusion between the
Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
to the revelations about Strzok’s texts on Saturday, Nunes said he
has now directed his staff to draft contempt-of-Congress citations
against Rosenstein and the new FBI director, Christopher Wray.
Unless DOJ and FBI comply with all of his outstanding requests for
documents and witnesses by the close of business on Monday, Nunes
said, he would seek a resolution on the contempt citations before
now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to
provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they
previously refused to make [FBI] Deputy Director [Andrew] McCabe
available to the Committee for an interview,” Nunes said in a
afternoon, after Strzok’s texts were cited in published reports by
the New York Times and the Washington Post – and Fox News had
followed up with inquiries about the department’s refusal to make
Strzok available to House investigators – the Justice Department
contacted the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan to establish a date
for Strzok’s appearance before House Intelligence Committee staff,
along with two other witnesses long sought by the Nunes team.
witnesses are FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the FBI officer
said to have handled Christopher Steele, the British spy who used
Russian sources to compile the dossier for Fusion GPS. The
official said to be Steele’s FBI handler has also appeared already
before the Senate panel.
Justice Department maintained that the decision to clear Strzok for
House interrogation had occurred a few hours prior to the appearance
of the Times and Post stories.
addition, Rosenstein is set to testify before the House Judiciary
Committee on Dec. 13.
Justice Department maintains that it has been very responsive to the
House intel panel's demands, including private briefings for panel
staff by senior DOJ and FBI personnel and the production of several
hundred pages of classified materials available in a secure reading
room at DOJ headquarters on Oct. 31.
said Speaker Ryan has worked quietly behind the scenes to try to
resolve the clash over dossier-related evidence and witnesses
between the House intel panel on the one hand and DOJ and FBI on the
other. In October, however, the speaker took the unusual step of
saying publicly that the two agencies were "stonewalling" Congress.
parties agree that some records being sought by the Nunes team
belong to categories of documents that have historically never been
shared with the committees that conduct oversight of the
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
officials told Fox News the requested records include “highly
sensitive raw intelligence,” so sensitive that officials from
foreign governments have emphasized to the U.S. the “potential
danger and chilling effect” it could place on foreign intelligence
Department officials noted that Nunes did not appear for a
document-review session that his committee’s ranking Democrat, U.S.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., attended, and once rejected a briefing
by an FBI official if the panel’s Democratic members were permitted
close to the various investigations agreed the discovery of Strzok’s
texts raised important questions about his work on the Clinton email
case, the Trump-Russia probe, and the dossier matter.
why the IG is looking into all of those things,” a Justice
Department official told Fox News on Saturday.
top House investigator asked: “If Mueller knew about the texts, what
did he know about the dossier?”
Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, said: “Immediately upon
learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel’s Office removed
Peter Strzok from the investigation.”
declined to comment on the extent to which Mueller has examined the
dossier and its relationship, if any, to the counterintelligence
investigation that Strzok launched during the height of the campaign