House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes says he has referred eight individuals to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Nunes told Fox News the referrals were for crimes committed in the Russia collusion investigation, including the leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.
The dramatic step comes as Republicans have pushed for the release of key documents to uncover the origins of the now-discredited narrative that the Trump campaign colluded improperly with the Russian government. President Trump recently told Fox News he would release the entirety of the FISA applications used to surveil one of his top aides, and other related documents.
Nunes said he has been working on the referrals for more than two years, and wanted to wait until the confirmation of Attorney General Bill Barr.
“We’re prepared this week to notify the attorney general that we’re prepared to send those referrals over,” Nunes said. “First of all, all of these are classified or sensitive. … Five of them are what I would call straight up referrals — so just referrals that name someone and name the specific crimes,” Nunes told Maria Bartiromo. “Those crimes are lying to Congress, misleading Congress, leaking classified information. So five of them are those types.”
Nunes would name no names, but it’s virtually certain that former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe will be on the list. The inspector general’s report looking into the Hillary Clinton email investigation said McCabe leaked material to the Wall Street Journal and then lied about it to his superiors.
It’s unclear who else might be referred, but the investigation into the origin of the FISA warrant against Carter Page found several improprieties — including the FBI misleading the court about the Steele dossier.
And House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., touched off a firestorm last August after claiming on Twitter that his office had “hard evidence” suggesting the FBI leaked information to the press and used the resulting articles to help obtain surveillance warrants. The claim stemmed in part from FBI intelligence analyst Jonathan Moffa’s Friday testimony behind closed doors before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.
Nunes added: “There are three [referrals] that I think are more complicated. … So on the first one, is FISA abuse and other matters. We believe there was a conspiracy to lie to the FISA court, mislead the FISA court by numerous individuals that all need to be investigated and looked at that, and we believe the [relevant] statute is the conspiracy statute. The second conspiracy one is involving manipulation of intelligence that also could ensnarl many Americans.”
Nunes asserted that “we’ve had a lot of concerns with the way intelligence was used” during the Trump-Russia probe.
The referrals do not mean there will be any indictments. It will be up to the attorney general to decide whether to prosecute anyone. And proving a conspiracy will be very hard.
Liberal commentary has tried to ridicule Nunes for seeking indictments. After all, the notion of wrongdoing by the FBI and the Department of Justice and not Trump just doesn’t follow the narrative.
But this is certainly a step in the right direction. At the very least, a record is being made that suggests there’s far more to the Russian collusion story than the media and Democrats have ever let on, and if it leads to certain reforms in the FISA warrant process, that can only be a good thing.