President Donald Trump announced Friday that he will nominate William P. Barr for Attorney General but what does this mean when it comes to the insurmountable evidence uncovered by Congressional Committees and the Department of Justice Inspector General regarding the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe into the Trump campaign?
Over the past two years Republican and Democratic lawmakers have waged battles both behind closed doors and in public, which have exposed startling evidence of possible malfeasance within the FBI, as well as mounting concerns regarding conflicts of interest, back channeling of information within the DOJ and possible criminal violations regarding the FBI’s dealings with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
But with Democrats taking over the House next year, Republicans will be limited in their scope to investigate and will lose their power to subpoena witnesses. The party, will in effect, be at the mercy of Democrats. So where does this leave the Republican’s ongoing investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe and Hillary Clinton’s use of private servers for government business?
It may all lie in the hands of Barr, who served as attorney general during the first Bush administration from 1991 to 1993. It is in his purvey to appoint a second Special Counsel to investigate the growing body of evidence regarding the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe. Barr would not be limited from his role, like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation and appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has overseen Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation.
On Friday, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-CA, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told SaraACarter.com that a second Special Counsel may be the only way to hold those who may have broken the law accountable. He noted that the email exchanges between senior FBI and DOJ officials during the FBI’s investigation into Russia Trump may contain information that the committee believes will show that exculpatory information was held from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when the FBI sought a warrant to spy on short-term campaign volunteer Carter Page.
“Based on the evidence we have, a second special counsel is looking increasingly necessary,” Nunes told this reporter Friday. “There are indications of serious wrongdoing, and the FBI and DOJ can’t be expected to investigate themselves. At any rate, what we want most now is for President Trump to declassify the evidence, so the American people can see more clearly what abuses were committed and who committed them.”
Nunes, along with other Republican lawmakers, have requested that the DOJ to declassify the emails for months but the DOJ has refused, he noted. The request for declassification is now with Trump and lawmakers are not sure if he will take the next step to declassify. The committee is also requesting that Trump declassify the ‘Gang of Eight’ dossier, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Page and the FBI interviews with DOJ senior official Bruce Ohr, who was used as a backchannel by the FBI to collect information from former British spy Christopher Steele after he was released by the FBI as a confidential informant. Steele compiled the unverified dossier on Trump’s campaign that was used as the bulk of information to obtain the warrant from the court to spy on Page.
The biggest question is will Barr be able to buck any Democrat pressure and call for a second Special Counsel if his nomination is approved, say lawmakers and legal analysts who spoke to this news site.
David Schoen, a civil rights and defense attorney noted that if “misleading information or misstatements of material facts were included in the FISA warrant applications at issue, or material facts were omitted – ‘about the conduct justifying the warrant, about the reliability of the source(s) or information, or any other material aspect of the matter, fundamental constitutional rights of the subject or target of the surveillance warrant have been violated and the integrity of the FISA process – an ultra-secret, ex parte process for the greatest intrusions into a citizen’s privacy, is completely undermined.”
That is exactly what Republican lawmakers and investigators believed happened when the FBI sought a warrant to spy on Page from October 2016 until September 2017.
On Thursday, told Sean Hannity’s Fox News that it was very clear based on the information his committee has been privy to that the FBI withheld vital exculpatory information from the secret court to spy on Page and referred to new information revealed by The Hill’s John Solomon in a published column.
Schoen said Barr needs to call for a special counsel this massive violation of the FISA court is proven true.
“The specter of an ex parte process in this area, with no checks on the government’s candor, already raises the antenna of any civil libertarian and should raise concerns for every citizen; but evidence of the abuse of that process cannot be tolerated by the DOJ or the FISA Court and must be protested by every citizen,” Schoen said.
“If it is accurate that the people involved with the application for a FISA surveillance warrant misled the Court to convince it to issue the warrant, through, misstatements or omissions of material facts, including facts concerning the reliability of the information provided in support of the application, then I think the appointment of a Special Counsel could be warranted, notwithstanding the spectacular failure of the current Special Counsel and the tremendous waste of time and resources abuse attending his work,” he added.
Schoen referred to two specific Special Counsel regulations:
Under Sec. 600.1 of the Special Counsel regulations: the AG is authorized to appoint a Special Counsel when he determines that the criminal investigation of a person is warranted, that the investigation would present a conflict of interest for a U.S. Attorney’s Office of the DOJ, and the public interest would be served by appointing one.
Under 600.2, Schoen said “there is a step the AG could take short of the immediate appointment of a Special Counsel. That would be to ‘direct an initial investigation, consisting of such factual inquiry or legal research’ as the AG alone sees as appropriate to better inform his decision.”
He added that “the Attorney General broad leeway to direct who should do it and what he/she should do, short of appointing a Special Counsel.”
As for Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign, the multiple indictments thus far have revealed zero evidence collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The FBI’s leadership, however, has been gutted of almost all Obama Administration senior personnel over the past two years, most who had to resign or were fired after evidence surfaced that they either lied to investigators, were politically motivated to destroy Trump’s campaign, as well as leaking unverified information to the media to enhance their investigation.
“The most important move forward would be for the president to declassify all the documents requested by the committee,” said a U.S. official, familiar with the investigation into the FBI. “Those documents will expose those culpable and give the American people the transparency we all deserve.”