The FBI: Still Stonewalling

Byron York has been following the saga of the Trump “dossier” and the FBI’s possible role in paying for it or using it for improper political purposes. I grew up believing that the FBI was incorruptible, but I don’t suppose anyone thinks that anymore. The Obama administration corrupted everything it touched, most emphatically including the FBI. Byron supplies some background:

The dossier is a collection of what former FBI director James Comey called “salacious and unverified” allegations of collusion between Russia and Trump campaign figures in the 2016 campaign. The Russia allegations were compiled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who was commissioned by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which is thought to have been paid for the work by wealthy supporters of Hillary Clinton. The FBI reportedly considered taking over the dossier project in the fall of 2016, when the campaign was at its height, leading Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley to say the dossier matter raised “questions about the FBI’s independence from politics.”

Both Grassley and the House Intelligence Committee have been interested in learning if the FBI ever used the “salacious and unverified” dossier as a basis for requesting surveillance on anyone in the Trump circle. Those questions only intensified this week with reports that the FBI wiretapped Trump associate and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort during the transition period.

Four weeks ago, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed the FBI and the Department of Justice to produce documents, including:

…all internal FBI reports “incorporating, relying on, or referring to” information provided by Steele, his sources, or Fusion GPS. The committee also asked for documents on any FBI or Justice “efforts to corroborate, validate, or evaluate” Steele’s information. And the subpoena sought any surveillance applications that included any information, or were based on any information, provided by Steele.

The original deadline for production was September 1. The deadline has been extended twice, most recently until today, and the FBI still has not responded.

Byron writes that the FBI may be able to ignore the subpoena forever, with the possible result that we will never know whether the Obama administration enlisted the FBI on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. It depends, he thinks, on whether Paul Ryan is willing to get involved:

[I]f Nunes is to prevail in the subpoena affair, it seems likely he would have to have the support of Speaker Paul Ryan. If the Speaker stands behind Nunes’ efforts, the subpoena will have more weight and be more difficult for the FBI and Justice to defy. If, on the other hand, Ryan does not stand behind the chairman, the FBI and Justice might be emboldened to delay forever. (A spokesman for Ryan did not immediately answer phone and email inquiries.)

I can’t imagine why Speaker Ryan wouldn’t want to get to the bottom of the apparent misuse of the FBI by Barack Obama and his corrupt Department of Justice. But this is what I really don’t understand: the FBI is part of DOJ, which is run–in theory, at least–by the Attorney General. Why doesn’t Attorney General Jeff Sessions simply order the FBI to comply with the House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena, promptly?

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