Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says he’s investigating the FBI and Justice Department. But at a committee meeting on Monday, he declined to give members details that were requested about the direction of that investigation, The Daily Beast has learned.
At a committee meeting on Monday evening, members voted unanimously to release a Democratic rebuttal to Nunes’ instantly-infamous memo, which alleged the FBI improperly sought authorization to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser. But while the vote was unanimous, the committee hearing was tense, according to multiple sources familiar with the proceedings.
Members on the committee wanted Nunes to provide additional detail on his efforts to investigate the DOJ and FBI—an inquiry Nunes first confirmed to Democrats last week, as his justification for denying Bureau and Justice officials a chance to detail their objections to the release of his memo. Nunes, according to sources familiar with the matter, declined to share details of that investigation with members.
That might seem like a small, passive-aggressive moment in yet another of Capitol Hill’s endless partisan squabbles. In reality, it’s much more. Nunes and his White House allies already have put enormous pressure on the FBI’s leadership. A deputy FBI director named in the document has stepped down, and the Justice Department official overseeing the Russia probe—Rod Rosenstein, lifelong Republican—is facing increasing criticism fellow Republicans. Three quarters of Trump voters now say the FBI is biased against the president, according to a recent poll.
Nunes’ next steps could go even further to undermine public faith in the various probes into the Trump-Russia nexus.
And what makes the situation particularly unusual is that the committee’s rules require its chairman to consult with the top member of the other party when starting a probe. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, told reporters last week that Nunes did not consult with him before starting his new investigation.
It’s the latest example of a jagged divide between the committee’s Republicans and Democrats. Those tensions came into relief over the previous few weeks, when Republicans pushed to release the controversial memo Nunes’ staff wrote. The document claimed that senior officials at the FBI and Justice Department misled a secret surveillance court about the political provenance of ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier when asking a judge to permit surveillance on Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.