Nunes Calls for a New White House Office on Transparency

Susan Jones | December 17, 2018 | 5:31am EST
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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Capitol Hill November 9, 2017. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

( - Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the outgoing chairman of the House intelligence committee, on Sunday said he will press for the creation of a White House office on transparency.

Nunes and other House Republicans want President Trump to declassify information related to the Trump-Russia probe.

Trump agreed to do so in September, but then he reversed himself and said he would not release sensitive documents because of what he called the "perceived negative impact on the Russia probe." Trump also said "key allies" urged him not to declassify the information.


"Our investigation is essentially over. We have everything that we need," Nunes told "Sunday Morning Futures" with Maria Bartiromo:

What we're lacking now is, we're lacking the declassification by the president. And for various reasons, the president or his staff doesn't want to do it.

Therefore, I think it's important, if the president doesn't want his hands on it, we have to have somebody, some office that's going to look at all of these issues and all of these documents that need to be declassified.

I think, if the president was to create some type of office like this -- I'm going to be working with my colleagues to work on and send some example over to the president of a transparency-type of office, so that the Congress, the American people, others can put in requests of documents or issues that they want declassified.

That way, the president doesn't have to take this full burden, full burden on, and the Congress has somewhere where we can go to, to try to avoid the swamp creatures, let's say, from getting involved and ensuring that the American public is kept in the dark.

We need to make sure that there's light. I always say that sunlight is the best disinfectant in Washington. The more that we can get declassified, I think the better.

As previously reported, Nunes seeks to have "four buckets" of information declassified so the American people can better understand what he considers to be the flimsy underpinnings of the Mueller investigation.

Those four buckets include (1) the third FISA renewal application on Carter Page signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; (2) communications between Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and FBI officials; (3) exculpatory evidence that was never given to the FISA court; and (4) emails between the FBI, DOJ and others "that clearly show that they knew about information that should have been presented to the FISA court," Nunes told Fox News's Maria Bartiromo on Nov. 18.

On Sunday, Nunes repeated his earlier calls for declassification.

On this Monday, former FBI Director James Comey returns to a closed-door session of the House Judiciary Committee for additional questioning. And former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.

A federal judge is now reviewing material related to Flynn's case, and Nunes said those documents -- if all of them were turned over to the judge, as he requested -- should convince the judge that Flynn was set up:

"I think what was likely is, is that General Flynn was just out of money," Nunes told Bartiromo on Sunday.

"If you look at some of the documentation that's come out in the last week, I think most notable is the one line that says that General Flynn actually knew that the agents must have had the transcripts.

"So, look, General Flynn is the former head of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). He -- 30 years of military service. He has to know, when the agents start to talk about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, that they have the transcripts...So why is General Flynn going to lie about something that he knows they have exactly what he said? And it never made any sense from the beginning," Nunes said.

"I think what the more likely scenario is, is that General Flynn was out of money. How do we know that? Not because he's told me, but because he had to sell his house to pay his legal bills.

"And then what you have seen is, even though it's been a year basically since he said, look, fine, I lied to you guys, you can bust me on this, knowing that he's not going to get any jail time, Mueller then comes out, says, oh, we're not going to give this guy any jail time. Well, knowing that, for all this time, likely, this was just a way for General Flynn to just end the investigation against him."

Nunes told Bartiromo his committee was never allowed to interview the second FBI agent, so far unnamed, who conducted the interview along with agent Peter Strzok at Flynn's West Wing office on Jan. 24, 2017.

Nor has the intelligence committee seen the "original FBI reports," called 302s, of the Flynn interview.

"So there's so much that's -- that's out there that we need to know still."

Nunes said he hopes the judge will see all the information that the intelligence committee has been allowed to see, "because it was clear from all of our investigation that we have done that the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn didn't think that General Flynn was lying.

"And then it doesn't pass a simple, straight-face test that General Flynn would lie, when he knows that they have the transcripts of his conversation with the Russian ambassador."

Nunes called it "frightening" that former FBI Director James Comey would casually admit, in a recent interview with NBC, that the FBI probably wouldn't have "gotten away with" interviewing Flynn the way they did if the fledgling Trump administration had been a "more organized administration."

"It's frightening, Maria, that the head of the FBI, who is on a 10-year appointment -- the reason that we have 10-year appointments is so that there is some continuity of government," Nunes said. "So whether it's a Republican or a Democrat, the bureaucracy there in Washington and the swamp should be there to support the administration, not take advantage of the administration."

The idea that the FBI would deliberately take advantage of the incoming Trump administration -- "that's alarming that anybody in the federal bureaucracy would think that way," Nunes said.

President Trump tweeted over the weekend: "The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, started as the 'insurance policy' long before I even got elected, is very bad for our Country. They are Entrapping people for misstatements, lies or unrelated things that took place many years ago. Nothing to do with Collusion. A Democrat Scam!"

Trump also wrote: "Jeff Sessions should be ashamed of himself for allowing this total HOAX to get started in the first place!"

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