I was joined this morning by Representative Brad Wenstrup of the House Intel Committee:
HH: Joined now by Colonel, I should call him Doctor, I should call him Congressman Brad Wenstrup from the great state of Ohio, though it is the Cincinnati end of the state. Good morning, Congressman, how are you?
BW: I’m good. How are you doing this morning, Hugh?
HH: I am great. You are a member of the House Intel Committee, are you not?
HH: Did you vote yesterday to release the Democratic minority report on the, what is called the Nunes memo?
BW: Yes, we did. It was voted out unanimously to move it forward. We’re conducting ourselves in a professional and fair way. And so we’re letting them have a chance. And I will tell you, their memo doesn’t change anything that was in our memo, not one bit. And their memo had more sensitive, classified information, footnotes, sources and methods, and that’s a concern. But they have told us that they will have it vetted, which is what we did before we voted to release ours to the public.
HH: Now it was a surprise yesterday when on Air Force One, President Trump let it be known, I do not know if he did it directly or through a spokesperson that he would like a second special counsel appointed to investigate the Department of Justice and the FBI for the election year actions of 2016. Do you agree with that recommendation?
BW: Well, a couple of reasons to hold off, and I’m not saying never do it. But I think it would be wise to wait and see what the Inspector General’s report looks like, which I understand is moving along in a timely fashion. But there is another reason it may not have to happen, and that would be if Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray, both of who are standing up for their agencies understandably, because there are many good people in those agencies. But at the same time, it could be their finest hour if they took on the responsibility of working with Congress rather than stonewalling Congress and opening the doors and working with us to let us know and see exactly what took place and right any wrongs that maybe have taken place. To me, that’s a leadership role on their part as well as our oversight role. If they refuse to do that, then that’s a shame and we may need to proceed in another direction.
HH: Well, I am on the side of a special counsel, but let’s see what happens. Let me ask you, do you want Robert Mueller to resign?
BW: At this point, I do not.
BW: I think that first of all, I think there’s nothing to hide from the standpoint that there has been no evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign. Now if you want to talk about collusion, and you understand that the dossier was supposedly written and corroborated with Russians, and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, that to me is clear collusion if that was going to be used to change a presidential election. That, to me, is only collusion I’ve seen.
HH: Do you want Rod Rosenstein fired, Mr., Congressman Wenstrup?
BW: I think he has an opportunity at this time to do the right thing. We will see if he does. It’s a dilemma. This whole thing is a dilemma. When you talk about vetting these documents, you’re talking about having the agencies vet them, and they’re the ones that are subject of the criticism in them. Yet we did that with our memo, with the FBI. Christopher Wray had eyes on it. He said everything was factual. There was one of their analysts and legal team that said everything was factual, including somebody that was part of the FISA application itself.
HH: To your knowledge, did anyone raise an objection internally to the apparent attempt to deceive the government by using political sources as opposed to naming the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign? Did anyone say that’s not right?
BW: Not, no, they didn’t. That’s one of the things that’s amazing to me. They, they make it sound like that’s even okay, because even if you don’t mention that it was paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, the fact that it was a political document and being used in this fashion is still bad. But it’s doubly bad if you don’t reveal that it was actually paid for by those sources.
HH: I have an op-ed in the Washington Post this morning. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, Congressman. It’s on their web page, which argues if you’re a corporate securities lawyer, I know you’re a doctor, but if you’re a corporate securities lawyer, and an IPO comes out or a corporate filing, and you falsely state facts about your background, or you don’t reveal, or you call your supply chain management problems in South America, you use that term as opposed to saying we’ve had our factory seized in Venezuela, you’ve committed crimes of fraud. I believe this document, this FISA application, and I reviewed hundreds and hundreds of them as a special assistant to two attorneys general, this was a fraudulent document. But the Democrats have trouble coming to grips with that.
BW: Yeah, and to your point, you know, to the average citizen and non-lawyers like me, this is a court where the accused does not have representation. So to me, it’s even more imperative that those are coming forward presenting their case to try and get a warrant should have the obligation of presenting each and every fact that may be pertinent in the case, which obviously was not done here.
HH: So you are not calling for Special Counsel Mueller’s firing, you’re not calling for Rod Rosenstein’s firing, you do want follow up. Let me ask you about what Devin Nunes said yesterday about the State Department. Do I expect another memo from your committee about another Steele dossier-related memo, one that circulated at the State Department?
BW: I don’t think necessarily that you’ll see it in the form of a memo, but we are going to continue to dig further. And I think that’s what the chairman has said as well. And to your point about those firings or these special counsels, I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen, but I don’t think that I’m there, yet. But that doesn’t mean it’s not down the road.
HH: Tell me if the surveillance of Carter Page yielded any information about people connected with the Trump campaign.
BW: The, let me think about that question for a second. I consider that a separate issue of what we’re talking about right now. I consider Carter Page to be someone who was sort of tagging along the campaign and was maybe trying to be relevant in some way. But the more I see about Carter Page, I don’t see that he had any role. And as the President said, he’d never even met the guy, so far as he knows.
HH: No, I agree with that.
HH: I don’t think he did. But when they surveilled him pursuant to this warrant, did he call the campaign? Did he talk with any members of the campaign? Did he talk with members of the family? Did he talk to Michael Flynn?
BW: Every bit of that, I can’t tell you right now. What conservations he had, I don’t know what all those conversations were. But I will tell you in general that I think that he’s a relatively non-entity as far as anything to do with collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign.
HH: And that, that goes to my point. Why they wanted a warrant on him seems to me to be the only reason, because they did not allege a crime, and he’s not been charged with a crime which itself raises problems under the FISA statute. But they wanted a window into the Trump campaign that might be provided by someone who wanted back in who’d been thrown off the bus.
BW: Well, and to your point there, too, why is it that they felt that the dossier, without all the information of who paid for it, was part of every time, was part of the presentation every time they sought a warrant. And McCabe said, and was in our statement, we’re paraphrasing, that he said it would not have gone through without the dossier. So there you have it.
HH: Talk to me a little bit about that as a last subject. Democrats are attempting to throw some cold water on that, indicating that there was other material. I think they’re referring to the stale 2013-14 applications for FISA warrants on Carter Page that would not have been resurrected, did not have enough strength on their own to be resurrected but for the new dossier information. Is that a correct assessment?
BW: I would say that is correct. And keep in mind, they also wanted to use the Yahoo report, which was originated from the same source.
HH: So there was no new information from, other than the 2013-14 applications other than the dossier report or information and articles based on the dossier report?
BW: Not that I’m aware. Now keep in mind, we have not been able to see the actual FISA application because of the DOJ rules. Trey Gowdy was the one that we selected to go see it. And he was able to take notes and report to us weekly. So he could probably give you a little bit more insight on that. But suffice to say, that I didn’t feel that there was anything new based on what I know.
HH: Brad Wenstrup, thank you, my friend, Congressman extraordinaire from Ohio.
End of interview.