Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Trump apologist who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, threatened on Fox News Sunday to “hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt” over a dispute regarding unredacted documents that Nunes wants from the Justice Department.
In April, Nunes wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, requesting several documents relating to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigations into the Trump campaign generally, and specifically into former Trump adviser Carter Page. The request appears related to a conspiracy theory Nunes touted in a memo released to the public earlier this year.
In that memo, Nunes claimed that the Justice Department’s obtained a warrant to surveil Page by relying on a dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The Steele dossier was produced through the research firm Fusion GPS, and was initially paid for by the conservative website the Washington Free Beacon. After Trump won the Republican nomination, the Clinton campaign decided to continue funding Steele’s work.
Nunes and his allies claim that the warrant against Page was fundamentally flawed because the Justice Department did not disclose that some of Steele’s work was paid for by Democrats.
In reality, it is unlikely that the Steele dossier provided the bulk of DOJ’s case for obtaining a warrant against Page. For one thing, US counterintelligence officials have known about Page’s “long history of meeting with dubious Russian officials” since at least 2013. For another, many of the claims in the Steele dossier have been independently verified.
In any event, Nunes now wants “an unredacted version of an Electronic Communication (EC) related to the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign,” as well as “four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications targeting Carter Page.” He is apparently willing to call for a contempt vote against Trump’s own attorney general to obtain these documents.
It is far from clear, however, that Nunes will have the support he needs in the House to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt. After Nunes released his memo, a handful of key Republicans — including anti-Clinton inquisitor Trey Gowdy — downplayed the memo, with Gowdy saying that he remains “100 percent confident in Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” and that Nunes’ memo does not, “in any way – discredit [Mueller’s] investigation.”