Dems snatches Nunes' plan for a private meeting with Barr to discuss criminal allegations

Devin Nunes

Before seeing its content, Representative Devin Nunes described Special Advocate Robert Mueller's report as a "partisan document" and said "we can only burn the fire". | Drew Angerer / Getty Images

House Democrats Devin Nunes, the Republican Intelligence Services Committee, plans to privately talk to Attorney General William Barr to urge the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against officials involved in the investigation. 39, investigation of the campaign of President Donald Trump in 2016 and Russia.

Nunes' accusations of misconduct target a host of former FBI and Justice officials accused of committing crimes as part of their allegations that the president's campaign Donald Trump in 2016 allegedly conspired with the Russians to influence the election.

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Nunes announced in recent days its intention to send eight "criminal referrals" – informal requests to the Justice Ministry to open an investigation – directly to Barr. On Thursday night, on Sean Hannity's Fox News, he announced his intention to meet with Barr "as appropriate" to discuss the referrals, and plans to have John Ratcliffe, a member of the GOP Intelligence Committee, attend the meeting. . Nunes said he would not name the targeted officials publicly, but that he would share his recommendations with Barr.

Barr told lawmakers earlier this week that he was anticipating Nunes' information.

"I have not yet seen the referrals from Congressman Nunes," Barr said in testimony before the House's House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, "but it is obvious that if a predicate is determined for an investigation, it will be conducted. "

Nunes' decision is an escalation on the part of Trump's allies in Congress, which range from Mueller's unpublished conclusions to the conduct of FBI investigators and the justice system that opened the investigation. Before seeing its content, Nunes called Mueller's report a "partisan document" and said "we can just burn it", even as most Trump supporters celebrated the news – as publicly described by Barr – that Mueller "had not established" conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government.

The Department of Justice has refused multiple inquiries as to whether Barr intended to meet Nunes and Ratcliffe. Nunes and Ratcliffe also refused requests for comment. Democrats said such a meeting would constitute a significant break with the protocol, unless they are also included.

"We hope to find out more if and when the Justice Department will receive referrals, assuming that the Ministry follows the appropriate protocol and that Barr holds such a meeting only with representatives of the majority and minority present", said a Democratic Assistant to the House Intelligence Committee.

Barr's decision to meet Nunes and Ratcliffe alone would put even more tension in his dealings with the Capitol Hill Democrats, who have torn the new attorney general in recent weeks for his efforts to protect Trump from potentially damaging conclusions. from Mueller 's report, which Barr has been reviewing for nearly a month.

Their frustration was exacerbated this week when Barr told the Senate Credits Committee that he thought the federal authorities had spied on Trump's campaign in 2016, a contentious premise that backed Trump's heated speech on the issue. survey conducted by Russia.

The intelligence committee's assistant pointed out that Nunes had not yet communicated any details on his recommendations to President Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) Or to other members of the Democratic majority.

"[B]But it is clear that they believe they have an ally in the Attorney General to perpetuate their conspiracy theories on "spying" and their determination to investigate investigators, no matter how much their efforts for our institutions national or devoted public are abusive. servants who work to keep us safe, "said the aide.

A Democrat House Assistant, said that Barr "must refuse the meeting and commit to the path of recovering his credibility", especially as he prepares to publish a redacted version of Mueller's final report.

The question also arises when House Republicans from another committee sent the Justice Department another criminal referral – this one to Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Representatives Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (RN.C.), two of Trump's closest allies in Congress, sent their own referral to the Department of Justice for Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, who they accused of lying to the committee during his testimony last month.

Criminal referrals are ill-defined investigation requests that have no official weight with prosecutors, except in rare circumstances. Representatives of various House investigation committees described the process as an informal and informal request that prosecutors generally treat as glorified press releases. Committee representatives pointed out that if legislators had exclusive evidence, such as a transcript of a confidential interview or documents obtained during a congressional inquiry, they do not matter.

Aside from this unwritten process, the House has no formal mechanism to remove a person for the purposes of criminal investigations, except through contempt proceedings, which would require a vote from the entire chamber.

Nunes' referrals appear to rely on information already in the possession of the Department of Justice. He told Hannity that five of his eight removals will name people who he says have committed "a serious misconduct in the Trump-Russia investigation". He said that a referral would concern a "global leak" investigation and name "a few reporters" – although it's not clear whether these reporters or only their sources would be targets of a such investigation.

"I do not think so many people live because I think they have few sources in these agencies," Nunes supposed.

Nunes said the two other removals would plead conspiracy to manipulate the information and abuse the FBI's sensitive FBI surveillance process to spy on a former Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page.

Without providing details, Nunes claimed that intelligence services began spying on the Trump campaign in late 2015 and early 2016. He then suggested to former FBI director James Comey to commit himself the "ultimate spying" – taking contemporary notes on his interactions with Trump. then, after being fired in May 2017, he directed them to the New York Times through an associate. He then stated that Mueller had been named "to spy on an acting president again," although there is no evidence to support this assertion.

After initially being committed to maintaining a fruitful relationship, the Democrats caught fire on Barr, accusing the newly appointed Trump Attorney General of having bottled Mueller's final report last month and sharing his views. his own opinions on Mueller's findings. Last month, Barr published a summary of Mueller's final findings, pointing out that Mueller "did not establish" a plot between Americans and Russians and noting that Mueller had not resulted in a "traditional" judgment of prosecutor "about whether Trump had hindered the investigation or not.

Barr exasperated the Democrats by making his own judgment on the obstruction, which allowed the president to disengage himself, although he later told Congress that Mueller had not asked him to do so. . Democrats have also spent weeks demanding access to the entire Mueller report, even to items that may be classified or part of ongoing investigations.

They argued that Congress had long handled such sensitive documents, even though they had never been made public, to document their own efforts to oversee the Trump administration and protect future elections. any foreign interference.

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