A group of House Republicans led by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes have secretly been building a case against top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI over their handling of the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, Politico reports.
According to the report, a “subset” of the Republicans on the Intel Committee have been working in secret for weeks to build a case that leaders of the DOJ and FBI “improperly – and perhaps criminally” mishandled the Trump dossier.
The members have been “quietly working parallel” to the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Nunes previously recused himself from. They have not informed Democrats about their case, though the report notes that they have “consulted with the House’s general counsel.”
Politico reports that Nunes plans to release a report claiming “corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement.”
“The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence,” Politico reports.
The report notes that the “final product could be used by Republicans to discredit” special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe into whether Trump’s team colluded with the Russians and potentially whether Trump obstructed justice.
The results could even be used to justify Mueller’s dismissal, which a number of Republicans and Trump allies have demanded.
The Nunes-led group believes that the FBI and DOJ actively worked to hurt Trump or help Hilary Clinton and believe the Mueller probe is, at least in part, a “witch hunt.”
The parallel investigation began over frustration with the DOJ for refusing to share details on how the dossier was used to launch the FBI investigation.
While the Republicans have alleged that the dossier is fake and was funded by Democrats and Trump’s opponents, much of the information in the dossier has since been confirmed.
The group is relying on the same documents and testimony provided by top Obama administration officials — such as former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former attorney general Loretta Lynch and former UN ambassador Samantha Power — who were grilled as part of the intelligence committee’s broader Russia probe.
It’s unclear how many members of the intelligence committee are participating in the side effort. Lawmakers on the full committee interviewed by POLITICO refused to discuss it.
“I don’t talk about what we do behind closed doors,” Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who has been leading the Russia meddling probe since Nunes recused himself, told Politico.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” added New York Rep. Peter King.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, who has been among the strongest critics of Clinton and perceived bias in the DOJ, is said not to be involved in the parallel investigation.
”While he does believe the FBI and DOJ have recently made decisions worth looking into, he is and will always be a defender of the FBI, DOJ and the special counsel,” a congressional aide told Politico.
Nunes did not comment on the report but told Fox News that someone needs to “investigate these people” for corruption.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intel Committee, warned that Nunes and the rest of them are trying to undermine the multiple investigations into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
“I think what we are seeing in our committee … is an effort to attack the Department of Justice, an effort to attack the FBI, to attack Bob Mueller, is an effort to undermine the investigations and these institutions out of fear of what they’ll find and try to discredit them in advance,” he said. “It’s a pernicious thing to do that will ultimately inflict long-term damage on these institutions.”