A small group of House Republicans are quietly investigating potential corruption and conspiracy among top officials at the Department of Justice and the FBI, according to a report.
The GOPers, led by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), are building a case against senior leaders at the DOJ and FBI who they believe mishandled information in a dossier that alleged ties between President Trump and Russia.
Revelations of the panel’s efforts — first reported by Politico — come as conservatives are increasingly questioning the credibility of the agencies as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing possible connections between Trump and Russia and Moscow’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.
The efforts of the group — which echo claims made by Donald Trump Jr. during a recent speech in Florida — could be used to discredit Mueller’s investigation.
RELATED: Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations
Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe
Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe
The close friend to Donald Trump and CEO of private equity firm Colony Capital recommended that Trump bring in Paul Manafort for his presidential campaign.
R. James Woolsey
Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has cooperated with Mueller's investigation and worked with Michael Flynn and was present at a meeting where they discussed removing the controversial Turkish Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen from US soil.
(Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The former senior Trump campaign official and White House adviser was present and crucial during the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey.
The former head of the Trump transition team following the 2016 election has said previously that he believes he was fired due to his opposing the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.
Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.
Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.
2016 election winner Donald Trump is at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's handlings.
Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign, arrives on at the U.S. Capitol December 12, 2017 to appear before a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee. Clovis worked with George Papadopoulos, a former Donald Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who struck a plea deal on charges of lying to the FBI.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”
Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.
Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.
Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo (L)
Caputo waves goodbye to reporters after he testified before the House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door session at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Caputo resigned from being a Trump campaign communications advisor after appearing to celebrate the firing of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Denying any contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, Caputo did live in Moscow during the 1990s, served as an adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and did pro-Putin public relations work for the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Stephen Miller, White House Senior Advisor for Policy
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Donald Trump Jr.
White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner
Executive assistant to Donald Trump Rhona Graff
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
US Vice President Mike Pence
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
The special counsel investigation has faced intensifying criticism in the wake of the firing of FBI agent Peter Strzok, a key investigator who was found to have exchanged anti-Trump texts ahead of the election.
While Republicans in Congress sound the alarm, Trump has denied that he has any interest in firing Mueller.
Trump has repeatedly called Mueller’s work a “witch hunt” and he has disparaged both the FBI and DOJ.
Of the FBI, Trump tweeted earlier this month that “its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History!”
Nunes’ obsession with the salacious dossier composed by former British spy Christopher Steele stretches back months.
He has threatened both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and top FBI officials, vowing to hold them in contempt for not producing documents related to the dossier.
The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas for records related to the dossier in September, a move that Democrats saw as unnecessary.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) complained that the subpoenas were “uncalled for,” and accused Republicans of attempting to “discredit” the author of the dossier “rather than looking into how many of the allegations he wrote about were true.”
Last month, the firm behind the dossier claimed in a federal court filing that Nunes subpoenaed its bank records in an attempt to find out who funded the controversial and unverified information.
Fusion GPS, the firm that contracted Steele to dig up opposition research on Trump, was initially funded by a Republican consulting firm before Hillary Clinton’s campaign picked up the tab.
The dossier claims several people in Trump’s inner circle have close connections to the Kremlin and that Trump was filmed with prostitutes during a trip to Moscow in 2013.
Nunes’ office declined to comment to Politico about the covert committee work, but the lawmaker has made his feelings known.
“I hate to use the word corrupt, but they’ve become at least so dirty that who’s watching the watchmen? Who’s investigating these people?” he told Fox News this month. “There is no one.”
Schiff on Wednesday countered, warning that he believes Nunes and others jeopardizing the fate of the nation.
“These are things we have raised alarm bells about, and I think we need to raise them even further at this point,” he told MSNBC.
“The problem is not that GOP members came across information that was of concern, but rather there has been a concerted effort from the very beginning to try to build a case, any case, against Mueller and the FBI and the DOJ. Much of our leadership has never stopped being a surrogate for the White House.”