House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes joined me this morning:
HH: Joined now by Devin Nunes. He is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He represents California’s 22nd Congressional district. Chairman Nunes, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
DN: Great to be back with you, Hugh.
HH: I had dinner last night with John Campbell, your former colleague from Congress, and he tells me that Devin Nunes is one of the nicest guys in Congress, widely recognized as such, but now you’re on the receiving end of the treatment that James Carville invented for Ken Starr. How’s that feel?
DN: Well, it’s, you know, I’ve said this many times, Hugh. It actually feels good, because you know that you’re right over the target when you’re taking on all this incoming. So they almost, it’s almost predictable, because the more they throw at you, the more you know to keep digging, because you’re getting really, really close. And you know, I learned this last year when we uncovered the unmasking debacle that was going on in the administration, I just got blasted across all spectrums of the mainstream media and by the left and by the Obama people, which immediately made me know it was 100% correct and accurate. So once we kept digging, it became pretty obvious here that the attacks came from the same people, so I knew that I was right.
HH: Trey Gowdy told Martha McCallum last night very directly that Sidney Blumenthal had a hand in the compilation of material provided Christopher Steele. Can you confirm that?
DN: No, I mean, what I can do, what I can tell you is that we’re moving onto the second phase of our investigation. We started with FISA abuse. That was the first phase. We wrapped that up. Now, we are looking into discrepancies or irregularities at the State Department and how information came into the State Department, what was done with that information, how that was processed and where it went. We know that from over the weekend, so on Friday I announced we were moving to the State Department. On Sunday, you had a former State Department spokesman who let it be known that John Kerry and others in the State Department knew about this dossier and were briefed on the dossier, which I found was interesting, because you could almost tell that was people that were trying to get ahead of the story. And so you know, we’ve known about a lot of this for many months, but we’ve been just trying to figure out how to move forward on it. So…
HH: Now Trey Gowdy did say Sidney Blumenthal. Are you saying that you can’t confirm it, or that Sidney Blumenthal wasn’t involved in it?
DN: I just can’t answer at this time, because a lot of what I know right now is classified, unfortunately.
HH: All right, John Brennan, former CIA director, was on with Chuck Todd. I was on the set on Sunday. He said he did not see the Steele dossier until, I believe, December. Is that your understanding?
DN: I do not know when he saw it. I thought that he said that he had seen it in the summertime, before fall.
HH: So did I, but that’s not what he said on Sunday. But that is a discrepancy we have to look in.
DN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay. That’s interesting.
HH: Do you have any idea if Ben Rhodes saw the dossier?
DN: Well, look, this is now, now what we, look, you’d have to be a fool to think that he did not, right, because this was, this was, Hillary Clinton paid for this information, right? That’s one of the, that was the big breaking point in this. So I knew back in March the FBI had used the dossier. I had assumed that some Democratic superPAC, somebody had paid for the dossier to be developed. I didn’t actually realize it was the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Then as you see all the places where this dossier was ran into, plus all the media had it, how is it possible that Ben Rhodes, who dealt with the media every day, didn’t know about it? I’m sure he knew about it.
HH: All right, now the Carter Page surveillance that was authorized by the FISA warrant that has got a glaring omission in it, a material omission that I’ve written about for the Washington Post, have you seen any of the work product or summaries that resulted as a result of that FISA warrant?
DN: Yes, we have seen, so our investigators and Trey Gowdy, and now two other members, John Ratcliffe from Texas and Bob Goodlatte. They have, they have went through and seen all of that.
HH: To your knowledge, did the Carter Page FISA warrant yield intelligence or surveillance on any member of the President’s campaign staff or transition team?
DN: Not that I am aware of, no.
HH: Were there any other warrants issued at that time that are in the category of the Carter Page warrant that raise your eyebrows about appropriateness?
DN: Not that I’m aware of.
HH: Now the Chief Justice appoints the FISA judges. Have you had a chance to chat with him or any of the FISA judges about what went on at the FISA Court with regard to the Page application?
DN: This is something that we grappled with, that we’ve been grappling with all through this investigation. We decided that we wanted to complete the FISA abuse portion before we approached the courts. Our next step with the courts is to make them aware, if they’re not aware already, that this happened by watching the news, so we will be sending a letter to the court. There is a, there’s a debate now into whether just send it to the Supreme Court or to send it to the FISA Court, and here’s why. And Hugh, you’d be a good guy to actually get your opinion on this. If, somehow, this case ends up at the Supreme Court, somehow, some way, by sending a letter to Roberts, do you conflict the Court?
HH: The answer to that is no.
HH: They will not issue an advisory opinion. And since he appoints the judges and is the leader of Article III, I would think you would invite him to come and talk with the committee. You can’t compel him to come, obviously, but since he appoints the FISA judges, perhaps he would accept your invitation to a closed session. Would you welcome such an appearance by the Chief Justice before a closed session to discuss the FISA process?
DN: So this is something that we have, like I said, we have thought a lot about this. And the answer is we don’t know the correct way to proceed because of the separation of powers issue. So as you know, you know, we have, I’m not aware of, I’m aware of members of Congress going to the Supreme Court and having coffee with the judges, just to shoot the bull. I’m aware of, you know, dinners where congressmen have been with Supreme Court justices. But I’m not aware of any time where a judge has, for lack of a better term, testified before the Congress.
HH: It is perfectly appropriate to invite, though you cannot compel the Chief Justice. And since he appoints the FISA judges, I doubt any of them would appear without his previous appearance and his warrant to do so. But I would encourage you to do that, because I would like to see if the Chief Justice would inform you of their reactions. I believe they are not going to be amused by this footnote. I believe it’s a material omission.
HH: I had one former federal judge tell me that it is, it is proof, it is probative evidence of a government intent to deceive the court that they did not disclose the origin of the Steele dossier, but instead disguised it as political manufactured.
DN: Yeah, and I think you have a very good point, and that was our read of it, also, in that you know, so in the application, there’s, you know, you would think you would go to great lengths to say where you got this from. And then it’s almost like you had to go out of your way to put the footnote in at the end in order to disguise it so that you’ve basically said oh, no, I did say this, when the reality is you really didn’t, right?
DN: And what would be interesting to see, and I don’t know, I’m sure it doesn’t exist, but if you had the changes as the FISA application made its way through the process of being developed before it was submitted to the court, and when that was put in and how the wording was changed.
HH: Now can I get your comment, a lot of people in the media are, maybe they’re purposefully dense, but some commentators are saying the Fusion GPS work began with the Washington Free Beacon. And indeed, the Washington Free Beacon did hire the Fusion GPS. But the Washington Free Beacon, am I correct, has nothing to do with the Steele dossier?
DN: Not only do they have nothing to do with this Steele dossier, they’ve testified as such. And it’s completely dishonest and inappropriate for the media to continue to say this. And in fact, James Comey also alluded that the Republicans had started this dossier, which tells me that James Comey was getting information directly from Fusion GPS, which by the way, we now know that’s the case. At least the FBI was getting information directly from Fusion GPS. So you know, Fusion GPS is a, as I understand, they’re like an intelligence and dirt-digging type of firm. And they do a lot of work for clients, right? Well, Washington Free Beacon had them on the payroll for years. And by the way, when they found out, it wasn’t until the dossier came out and the Fusion GPS’ involvement, that Washington Free Beacon terminated their relationship with Fusion GPS largely because Fusion GPS had lied to the Washington Free Beacon.
HH: Well, it’s like a law firm has a lot of clients, and that you have one client doesn’t mean that you’re sharing. Indeed, you ought not to be sharing the work product for one client with another client. And it is purposefully obtuse to ignore that in the media reports about the Free Beacon and GPS Fusion. Let me ask you about Special Counsel Mueller. I do not believe he should be in any way fired or impeded. Do you believe he should be left alone, Chairman Nunes?
DN: I do, yes. I don’t have, now what I, my questions that I do have for DOJ and for this investigation that’s still, that still really riles me, is that what about the one felony that we knew from the beginning that had been done back in January when we had a felony leak of classified information of phone calls between the Russian ambassador and the incoming national security advisor, General Flynn? That…
DN: That has never been investigated, as far as I can tell, by anyone. And it’s totally unacceptable. So if Sessions isn’t going to do it, or Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, Mueller’s not going to do it, and then they block our investigation to do it, you know, we haven’t been able to get to the bottom of it. I mean, this is totally unacceptable.
HH: There are calls for a second special counsel by Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, myself, many others. Do you agree a second special counsel is needed to investigate the handful of people in the Justice Department, the national security apparatus, the FBI, and it’s a handful. It’s a very few. It’s nothing like the 35,000 FBI agents who are out there working for us. But there is some impropriety here. Do you think we need a second special counsel for that?
DN: Well, what I will tell you is that when we get all the way through our investigation, right, so I believe in the FISA abuse phase of our investigation, we have many laws that were broken, okay? But they have to be proven. So Congress is an oversight body. We have no way to go prosecute, right? We can make a criminal referral, but we already found out what happened to the Grassley-Graham criminal referral, right? It got buried over at DOJ. We finally got that out last night, un-redacted, or many parts of it un-redacted. And so we’re now looking at the State Department. We’d like to interview more people. But Hugh, to your point, if Sessions isn’t going to put a prosecutor to prosecute all of these potential crimes that we’ve discovered, and if Justice and FBI, you know, you also have the question as can they investigate themselves. You know, who watches the watchmen? And so…
HH: Do you have confidence…
DN: Then you get yourself to a point where I’d like to continue what we’re doing, but at some point, somebody’s going to have to prosecute.
HH: Do you have confidence in Mr. Rosenstein? I do. He may have to recuse himself if any obstruction charges are brought, because he authored, along with the Attorney General, the memo urging the firing of Comey. And the firing of Comey is part of the obstruction narrative. But absent that, a recusal, do you have confidence in him?
DN: Yeah, I personally like Rod Rosenstein. I really do. I mean, I think he’s had a great career. I think one of his challenges is he’s been a U.S. Attorney, and he hasn’t been in the Washington, D.C. swamp, and I think he came in at a very, at a time that was really tough, and he made some quick decisions that I think now are, you know, looking like they were mistakes. And so what I’ve encouraged both Sessions, Rosenstein and Wray to do, the FBI director, is to look, just admit you had a problem, admit you screwed up, and I’ll be your biggest supporter, you know?
HH: Do you agree…
DN: Come out and talk, come out and say look, this was a mistake. You know, we don’t know if anybody broke the law, but this was a mistake, and then I think that’s the quickest way to get past this for the United States of America.
HH: Yeah, I actually don’t believe Rod Rosenstein had any idea when he signed this FISA warrant, actually knew what was in there, because it’s, when I did this for Justice, there are hundreds of them, and you’ve got to just process them fast. Let me ask you, very quickly, about the Russia attack on our election.
DN: Although I will say, just let me stop you on that one point. This is one that I would hope would not be processed very fast, right? And it would, if you’re going to open up a can, an investigation into another campaign using dirt from the other campaign, using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to do it, you’d better dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s.
HH: Is it possible, though, that because Mr. Page had left, they thought it was not a campaign-related matter? I personally believe it is possible that the insurance policy that was spoken of in this Strzok-Page text was the opportunity to demonstrate to the presumed president-elect, who they thought was going to be Mrs. Clinton, that the FBI had been as tough on Trump people as they had been on her. I thought that’s what the insurance policy meant. What do you think of that, Devin Nunes?
DN: Well, until we interview all these folks, we’re not going to know. I mean, that’s the challenge. I mean, we’re trying to, you know, when you match, look, when you match up text messages to the timeline that we have of events that happened, it doesn’t look good for the texting partners.
HH: All right, last questions have to do with the larger issue of the Russia attack. Do you believe there was a significant Russia attack on our election?
DN: I don’t believe that it was any different than normal, right? So I was actually the one who in April in the spring of 2016, I blasted the intelligence agencies and said this was the biggest intelligence failure since 9/11, the failure to understand Putin’s plans and intentions. Why did I say that? Because they were running rampant all across Eastern Europe and involving themselves in elections, invading other countries, causing, stirring up all kinds of problems. The Obama administration not only did they refuse to arm the Ukrainians, not only did they ignore, there was money that we gave them that they wouldn’t use, and then in addition to that, I had, you know, at that point when I said that on CNN, I had quite a few reporters call. But once they called over to the DNI and to the IC and the White House, they just said oh, Nunes is crazy, you know, we’re really on top of Russia. We don’t have an intelligence problem with Russia.
DN: And of course, those same reporters who knew that I said that, who know that they called over to the IC, they called to the White House, they know what they told them at the time. But yet, you know, they failed to report the real story.
HH: Last thing for you. This is Adam Schiff on Sunday talking to George Stephanopoulos. He said that it is likely that people will not call the Bureau, because, even if they’re afraid a terrorist is living next door, because of the Nunes memo. What do you make of that charge?
DN: Well, why did he load his memo up with all kinds of sources and methods? He could have scrubbed his down so that there were no sources and methods like ours. And I would also say that we have not had one agent across this country call my office and complain about this. In fact, we’ve had, we’ve had agents from all over the country, spouses, retired agents, current agents, call and say thank you for what you’re doing. So I don’t think that there is any, the line guys from the FBI, and women, they really support this, from what I can tell.
HH: And so do you believe he is purposefully loaded up the memo so that it will be redacted so he can claim political manipulation?
DN: I don’t see how you can make any other conclusion. Plus, you have to look at the past. You know, past equals present, right? I mean, there’s never been a time that there hasn’t been wild accusations that then are supported by the media where they create narratives to do what? To keep the truth from coming out. And look, they have a big truth to keep from coming out. What is that? The truth is that they are covering up that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians to get dirt on Trump to feed it to the FBI to open up an investigation into the other campaign. So I understand why they’re covering it up. The question is when will the American people understand that they’re covering it up, because this is a massive cover up of a major scandal that reached the highest levels of our government.
HH: Devin Nunes, thank you. Come back again soon.
DN: Thank you, Hugh.
End of interview.