FILE PHOTO – Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts | DOJ Gives House Intel Crucial Russia Info
By Chuck Ross
Facing threats of legal action, the Justice Department on Wednesday provided the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with a two-page document showing the FBI’s basis for opening the Russia counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The agency provided the document, known as an Electronic Communication, or EC, after California Rep. Devin Nunes and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Nunes sent a letter to Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray April 4, demanding an un-redacted copy of the EC, as well as access to applications for surveillance warrants against President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page. Nunes set April 11 as the deadline for the document production.
In an interview on Tuesday, Nunes threatened to potentially impeach Rosenstein and Wray if they refused to turn over the EC.
Rosenstein seemingly relented, providing a minimally redacted copy of the EC to Nunes and Gowdy. The two-page document contains some redactions to protect the name of a foreign country and a foreign agent, a Justice Department official told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The official said that all members of the Intelligence Committee were provided with access to a lightly redacted version of the EC.
“Remaining redactions are narrowly tailored to protect the name of a foreign country and the name of a foreign agent,” the official said.
The redacted words have been replaced with terms like “foreign government official,” “foreign government embassy,” “foreign official,” “foreign government,” and “foreign government identifier,” according to the official.
“These words must remain redacted after determining that revealing the words could harm the national security of the American people by undermining the trust we have with this foreign nation,” the official continued, adding that the Justice Department believes that the production of the EC and 1,000 additional pages of classified materials has “substantially satisfied” Nunes’ initial subpoena.
The FBI opened its investigation on July 31, 2016, reportedly based on information passed to the bureau by the Australian government about George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser.
Papadopoulos claimed in May 2016 to have information that Russia possessed stolen Hillary Clinton emails, Australia’s ambassador to the U.S. reportedly told his American counterparts. Papadopoulos allegedly made the claim during a conversation in London with Alexander Downer, Australia’s top diplomat to United Kingdom.
The EC relied on input from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence official who led the Russia investigation, Fox News reported Wednesday. Strzok was kicked off of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia team July 2017, after he was found to have exchanged anti-Trump text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Nunes thanked Rosenstein in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“During the meeting, we were finally given access to a version of the EC that contained the information necessary to advance the Committee’s ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice and FBI,” Nunes said.
“Although the subpoenas issued by this Committee in August 2017 remain in effect, I’d like to thank Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for his cooperation today.”