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House Intelligence chairman says he's going to hold the FBI in contempt of Congress — here's why
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he will hold the FBI's top brass in contempt of Congress for months of stonewalling information about a potentially biased FBI agent. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

House Intelligence chairman says he's going to hold the FBI in contempt of Congress — here's why

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has instructed his staff to draw up a contempt of Congress citation for FBI Director Christopher Wray and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, after it was revealed Saturday that a top FBI agent was removed from the Trump-Russia investigation for possible anti-Trump bias.

What happened?

The New York Times and Washington Post both reported Saturday FBI special agent Peter Strzok — who played key roles in the FBI's initial Russia investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and the Clinton email investigation — was removed from Mueller's investigation after it was discovered he exchanged anti-Trump text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whom he was having an extramarital affair with. Strzok was re-assigned to the FBI's human resources department, a move many saw as a demotion.

The Post reported that Strzok and Page exchanged texts that were anti-Trump and pro-Clinton. The messages themselves weren't revealed, just the existence of them.

As part of the intelligence committee's investigation into the Trump-Russia probe and the anti-Trump dossier, Nunes asked the Justice Department several times why Strzok had been removed from the investigation, according to the Washington Examiner. The committee even issued a subpoena on Aug. 24 requesting information on Strzok's reassignment.

Nunes and his committee followed up five separate times between Oct. 11 and Dec. 1. Each time, however, the DOJ and FBI refused to answer the committee's questions. It was only after the Times and Post stories hit the presses that the DOJ informed Nunes they would grant his requests — well, at least some of them.

The actions of the DOJ have left Nunes and his committee no other option, the California Republican said Saturday.

What did he say?

He said, according to the Examiner:

By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress' constitutional oversight responsibility.

This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee's oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.

Nunes then went on to criticize the agency for its "sudden willingness to comply" with the committee's demands.

"The DOJ has now expressed — on a Saturday, just hours after the press reports on Strzok's dismissal appeared — a sudden willingness to comply with some of the committee's long-standing demands," Nunes said. "This attempted 11th-hour accommodation is neither credible nor believable, and in fact is yet another example of the DOJ's disingenuousness and obstruction."

Nunes said the contempt of Congress citation will be drawn up before the end of December unless Wray and Rosenstein make every effort to honor the intelligence committee's requests.

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