- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The more the American people learn about the origins of the FBI counter-intelligence investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the more questions are raised. 

On Sunday House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes revealed that there was “no official intelligence that was used to start [the] investigation.” in the Summer of 2016. 

This fact would have been known to Nunes and his counterparts in House and Senate leadership as well as the principals on the respective intelligence committees (aka “The Gang of Eight”) had they been briefed by then-FBI Director James Comey at the time. 

But, he didn’t. Why? 

In March 2017, when he was still FBI Director, he testified under oath before Nnes’ committee. Rep. Elise Stefanik  (R-NY) asked Comey about this critically important issue.



STEFANIK: Broadly, when the FBI has any open counter-intelligence investigation, what are the typical protocols or procedures for notifying the DNI, the White House, and senior Congressional leadership?

COMEY: There is a practice of a quarterly briefing on sensitive cases to the chair and ranking of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. And the reason I hesitate is, thanks to feedback we’ve gotten, we’re trying to make it better. And that involves a briefing of the Department of Justice, I believe the DNI, and the — some portion of the National Security Council at the White House…

STEFANIK: So if that’s quarterly…

COMEY: … to brief them before Congress is briefed.

Understand a key part of Comey’s sworn testimony here.  He said that the practice was to brief the Gang of Eight on “sensitive cases” on a quarterly basis. “Sensitive cases.” Because, of course, if the FBI is engaged in a sensitive counterintelligence investigation, there should be oversight from the Legislative Branch so the Executive Branch is not abusing their power. 

But, the FBI under Comey did not brief Congress on the Trump investigation. And Stafanik wanted to know why: 

STEFANIK: So since, in your opening statement, you confirmed that there is a counter-intelligence investigation currently open and you also referenced that it started in July. When did you notify the DNI, the White House, or senior congressional leadership?

COMEY: It’s a good question. Congressional leadership, some time recently. They were briefed on the nature of the investigation in some detail as I said. Obviously the Department of Justice has been aware of it all along. The DNI, I don’t know what the DNI’s knowledge of it was because we didn’t have a DNI until Mr. Coats took office and I briefed him his first morning in office.

STEFANIK: So just to drill down on this, if — if the open investigation began in July and the briefing of congressional leadership only occurred recently, why was there no notification prior to the recent — to the past month?

COMEY: I think our decision was it was a matter of such sensitivity that we wouldn’t include it in the quarterly briefings.

Within the same 60 seconds of sworn testimony Comey says that the FBI briefs the Gang of Eight on sensitive cases but didn’t brief them on the Trump investigation because it was sensitive. 

Stefanik wanted to get Comey on this issue one last time. 

STEFANIK: And just again, to get the detailed — on the record, why was the decision made not to brief senior congressional leadership until recently when the investigation had been open since July? A very serious investigation — why was that decision to wait months?

COMEY: Because of the sensitivity of the matter.

It makes no sense. He is either lying or he is an imbecile. 

The American people still deserve answers to two basic questions: What information actually triggered the unprecedented decision to launch an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign?  And why was Congress kept in the dark about it for nine months? 

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