In a letter dated April 4, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes demanded that the FBI and Department of Justice produce an unredacted copy of the electronic communication (“EC”) that initiated the “collusion” counterintelligence investigation culminating in the Mueller madness. The Department of Justice and FBI responded in a letter stamped April 6 and signed by Prim Escalona for Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd. I posted Rep. Nunes’s letter in part 1 and Boyd’s letter in part 2.
Boyd’s letter expressly states that it responds to Nunes’s April 4 letter but does not state directly whether the unredacted EC would be produced. I inferred that Boyd’s letter tacitly refused to produce the EC. This refusal, it should be noted, is premised on no expressly stated reason. If I am reading the letter correctly, it’s an audacious document. If I’m not reading it right, it’s not my fault! I’m embedding it again at the bottom of this post so that you can look at the letter over my shoulder. In its own mealymouthed way, it is something of a laugh riot.
Today the Wall Street Journal comments on the Boyd letter in the editorial “The Justice stonewall continues.” The editorial confirms that I have read Boyd’s letter correctly. Here is the opening of the editorial:
Hours after we published an editorial Friday about the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over a document subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) received an official response from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.
It was cleverly spun. Mr. Boyd played up the access to the secondary information Mr. Nunes had demanded—access to the application and renewals for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants on one-time Trump associate Carter Page. Mr. Boyd describes his department’s response as “extraordinary accommodation.”
Upon inspection, however, the focus on the FISA warrants looks more like an effort to distract attention from Mr. Boyd’s refusal even to mention Mr. Nunes’s main request of FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That request was for the “electronic communication,” or memo, that officially launched the counterintelligence investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
On Friday Trey Gowdy, an Intel Committee member who has seen a redacted form of the memo, said Justice has redacted the “good stuff.” He means information that would tell whether the counterintelligence investigation was credible, and how and whether the FBI vetted the information. “All of that,” Mr. Gowdy said, “is in a paragraph I can’t read.”
The editorial then notes that “Justice says the blacked-out paragraph can’t be shared with Congress because it identifies a foreign country that shares intelligence with the U.S.” and observes that this is a hard argument to credit…at argument is also hard to credit, “given that in December someone told the New York Times that Australian diplomat Alexander Downer was the source for the information that minor Trump campaign official George Papadopoulos had bragged about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.” I would add that it’s a hard argument to credit because it isn’t even set forth in Boyd’s response.
President Trump professes to be mystified about all this. He wonders what the DoJ and the FBI have to hide. If he were so inclined, as the Journal editorial also notes, he could ascertain the answer to that question and even do something about it other than tweet (OTT).