Democrats Say House Republicans Are Complicit in Effort to Obstruct Mueller

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) -
Democrats memo
House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., shown here as he arrived for a committee hearing in December on oversight of the FBI. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Democratic members of Congress circulated a letter in which they say House Republicans are “now part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct” special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Until now, we could only really accuse House Republicans of ignoring the President’s open attempts to block the Russia investigation,” Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee said in the letter released Saturday.

The letter provided a point-by-point rebuttal of the Republican memo alleging bias in Mueller’s investigation of possible links between Russia and Pres. Trump’s campaign. That memo, from Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was released Friday after approval from President Donald Trump.

“With the release of the Nunes memo –– a backhanded attempt to cast doubt on the origins of the special counsel’s investigation –– we can only conclude that House Republicans are complicit in the effort to help the president avoid accountability for his actions and for the actions of his campaign,” the Democrats said.

A rebuttal to Nunes’s memo by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee remains classified pending a vote by the committee and approval by Pres. Trump. Saturday’s letter was prefaced with an introduction by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, who termed the Nunes memo “deeply misleading.”

Nunes’ memo purports to show that the FBI and the Justice Department improperly relied on a dossier paid for by Democrats to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, a onetime low-level adviser to the Trump campaign.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the Nunes memo had to be released because rights may have been violated. Pres. Trump, in a Twitter post Saturday, said the memo “totally vindicates” him in the Russia investigation, which he called an “American disgrace.”

Saturday’s Democratic rebuttal contended that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court activities discussed in the Nunes memo predated Rod Rosenstein’s tenure as deputy attorney general and therefore can’t be used as a basis to remove him, as some Republican lawmakers and conservative critics have urged.

The Democrats said the FISA court found probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of the Russian government, and that nothing in the Nunes memo disproved anything in a dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele used as part of the FISA application.