- Republican lawmakers’ sustained attacks on the FBI and the special counsel Robert Mueller in recent weeks have raised questions about whether the White House has coordinated or influenced the effort.
- Three House Republicans most opposed to Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election have indicated that they have spoken to the White House – and President Donald Trump directly – about it.
- Many of Trump’s allies in Congress and the media have called on Mueller and FBI Director Chris Wray to fire agents who appear politically biased.
A House Republican who has repeatedly characterised the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation – and the FBI more broadly – as biased and politically motivated indicated on Wednesday that he had spoken with the White House about it.
Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the outcome in his favour.
“Have you had conversations or has your office had conversations with the White House about the Mueller investigation?” the CNN host John Berman asked Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Speaking about the House Judiciary Committee’s recent oversight hearings with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Chris Wray, Jordan said, “I did not talk to the White House about what kind of questions I was going to ask.”
“Have you had conversations with the White House not about the questions you asked, but about the Mueller investigation in general?” Berman asked.
“I talk with the White House about all kinds of things,” Jordan said. “We’ve had talks with the White House about tax policy. We’ve had talks about welfare policy. We’ve had talks about Obamacare. Of course we’ve had talks with the White House.”
“But my questions in those committees was driven by the evidence we’ve received in the last several weeks,” he said, about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, FBI employees who were on Mueller’s team until this summer and had exchanged text messages before the election that mocked Trump and other political leaders.
A spokeswoman for Jordan did not return a request for comment. But the congressman is among the loudest in a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers calling for Mueller and Wray to fire agents who appear politically biased.
A trip on Air Force One
Jordan is not the only Republican congressman seeking to undermine Mueller who has been in touch with the White House in recent weeks.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, the first lawmaker to openly demand Mueller’s firing, discussed the special counsel’s investigation with Trump aboard Air Force One earlier this month ahead of a rally in Florida.
Gaetz, who is friends with Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime confidant, and has accused Mueller of plotting a “coup d’etat,” told Trump he was “concerned that this investigation was infected with bias,” according to Politico.
Gaetz told Politico that Trump replied, “That’s why you guys have got to do your job.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis, a House Judiciary Committee member who put forward a provision in August that would have severely limited the scope and funding of Mueller’s investigation, was also on the flight with Gaetz and Trump.
Rep. Devin Nunes, meanwhile, has for weeks been meeting secretly with a group of House Intelligence Committee Republicans to build a case that senior leaders of the Justice Department and FBI mishandled the contents of the Trump-Russia dossier – a raw intelligence document compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele outlining allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Nunes, that committee’s chairman, stepped aside from its Russia investigation in early April following his decision to brief Trump and the press on classified intelligence without telling his fellow committee members.
It is unclear whether Nunes has remained in contact with Trump. A spokesman for Nunes did not return a request for comment.
The California congressman has been conducting his own investigations into “unmaskings” by the Obama administration and the credibility of the dossier – two issues Trump promoted heavily earlier this year – heightening speculation that he coordinated with the White House at least initially to create a diversion from the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell told Business Insider earlier this year that Nunes’ shadow investigations risked compromising the House panel’s Russia probe.
If House Speaker Paul Ryan “wants a credible investigation to come out of the House Intelligence Committee,” Swalwell said, “he’ll do everything he can to make sure Devin Nunes’ fingerprints are not on our report.”
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