Goodlatte Raises ‘Questions Regarding the FBI’s Impartiality’; Wants Documents on FISA Warrants, Trump Dossier

Susan Jones | December 7, 2017 | 10:46am EST
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FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 7, 2017. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Thursday told FBI Director Christopher Wray that "the FBI's reputation as an impartial, non-political agency has been called into question recently."

He said the FBI cannot be tainted by politics or the perception of bias:

"Questions regarding the FBI’s impartiality first came to light under the Obama administration surrounding the handling of the investigation into the Clinton email server scandal.  You, Director Wray, have a unique opportunity to repair the damage to the reputation of the FBI, and we encourage you in the strongest terms to do so,” Goodlatte said in his opening statement.



Goodlatte continued:

Director Comey’s decision to weigh in on the fate of the investigation into the mishandling of classified emails by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was one that brought criticism to the Bureau from all sides. The FBI’s decision to recommend no charges against the former Secretary, or anyone connected to her, continues to raise serious concerns that our nation’s system of justice applies differently to the rich, powerful, and well-connected than to everyone else.

Many on this Committee have repeatedly called on Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to name a second special counsel to review the voluminous, unresolved inconsistencies and perceived improprieties with regard to normal FBI and DOJ investigatory practice that arose during the Clinton email investigation. 

Despite our requests, the Department has not appointed a second special counsel.  While we still request the appointment of a second special counsel, we have now also opened our own joint investigation with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to review FBI and DOJ’s handling of that investigation.

The Attorney General has recently committed to provide us relevant documents, and I hope to hear directly from you that you will ensure your agency provides a fulsome response of documents to enable unimpeded Congressional oversight.

Even more recently, reports on the bias of some of the career agents and lawyers on current Special Counsel Mueller’s team are also deeply troubling to a system of blind and equal justice. Investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own personal political opinions. 

We do not know the magnitude of this insider bias on Mr. Mueller’s team, nor do we have a clear understanding of the full magnitude of bias reflected in the Russia investigation and prior Clinton email investigation. 

One thing is clear, though – it is absolutely unacceptable for FBI employees to permit their own political predilections to contaminate any investigation.  Even the appearance of impropriety will devastate the FBI’s reputation.

We hope to hear from you today an action plan for making sure this never happens again, that individuals are held accountable, and whether you plan to reevaluate prior decisions in light of the prejudice shown by officials in integral roles on past and ongoing investigations.

Wray told Goodlatte he is respecting the ongoing, outside, independent (inspector general) investigations being conducted by the FBI. He said he wants to be a person who asks questions first, then acts.

“And when those findings come to me, I will take appropriate action, if necessary. In the meantime, I am emphasizing in every audience I can inside the Bureau that our decisions needs to be made based on nothing other than the facts, and the law and our rules and our processes and our core values and not based on any political considerations.”

FISA warrants and the Trump dossier

In another development, Goodlatte on Thursday asked the Justice Department and the FBI to provide the Judiciary Committee with "all information presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to allegedly obtain a warrant based on politically-motivated opposition research."

Goodlatte pointed to news reports indicating that in 2016, the FBI used information from an unverified Trump "dossier" to justify a FISA warrant against Carter Page, a former adviser to the Trump presidential campaign.

Former FBI Director James Comey also apparently cited the dossier “as one of the sources of information the bureau has used to bolster its investigation,” Goodlatte said. The dossier turned out to be opposition research funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

In his letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Wray, Goodlatte asked them to provide the House Judiciary Committee with all relevant information reportedly presented to the FISA court that was used to justify the Carter Page FISA warrant.

He said he wants the information by next week.

The letter can be found here.

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