The House Intelligence Committee may have concluded its Russia investigation, but the committee's Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is not finished grilling the FBI over its probe into Kremlin election meddling.
In a letter to the Justice Department, Nunes is demanding an unredacted copy of the document that initiated the FBI’s investigation of links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign. In the letter, provided Wednesday to the Washington Examiner, Nunes threatens to exhaust “all appropriate legal remedies,” including civil action in federal court if they refuse to provide the document by April 11.
The document in question describes information provided to the FBI by an Australian diplomat after a conversation with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in April 2016. Papadopoulos informed the diplomat at a London bar that he had been told the Russians possessed emails stolen from Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton.
In his letter, Nunes complains that the FBI has only provided Congress with a heavily redacted version of the document based on “its supposed sensitivity."
Nunes' inquiry is the latest sign of a stark partisan divide on the committee, where Democrats charge that Republicans have been more interested in covering for the president than in getting to the bottom of Kremlin meddling.
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said he expects the GOP decision to conclude the panel's Russia probe last month wouldn’t end what Democrats call a partisan effort to smear FBI and Justice Department officials who have played a role in the Trump-Russia investigation. Some Republicans insist the investigation has been driven by anti-Trump bias within the federal bureaucracy.
“With their most recent letter, the majority is continuing, and indeed ramping up, their counter-investigations solely designed to attack the FBI and DOJ in an effort to undermine Robert Mueller and protect the President at all costs,” Schiff said. “This may suit President Trump but it is a grave disservice to the country and our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”
House Republicans voted unanimously last month to end their Russia investigation, declaring that they found no evidence that Trump associates conspired with Russians during the 2016 campaign. The leaders of the probe acknowledged they were hamstrung in their ability to access some central witnesses because they had become embroiled in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal probe of the matter.