Mueller should call Nunes to testify in obstruction probe

Mueller should call Nunes to testify in obstruction probe
© Greg Nash

Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE and his special counsel team should call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesDemocrats' opposition research got exposed — this time, not by the Russians GOP consultant sued by Nunes asks for help paying legal costs Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data MORE (R-Calif.) to testify as a material witness in his investigation of obstruction of justice in the Russia scandal.

The frenzy surrounding the Nunes memo, which involves such extreme concerns about national security that it may precipitate a crisis between Trump and FBI Director Christopher Wray and the Justice Department, suggests that a cataclysmic event in the Russia investigation could well occur within days.

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The Nunes memo involves an attack against a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. FISA warrants involve the most closely held and strongly guarded secrets in American intelligence and counterintelligence.

 

They are only granted after intense and penetrating judicial review and approval and are based on the most highly guarded secrets of American intelligence and counterintelligence agencies battling foreign espionage and foreign attacks against America by Russia and other hostile nations.

Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean spies engage in major espionage programs designed to learn the kind of information that is included in evidence presented to support FISA warrants.

It should be unthinkable, but is now possible, that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee seeks to publicly release information disclosing presentations to a court supporting approval of a FISA warrant that could be directly or incidentally helpful to enemies of America. 

It is clear that the possibility of obstruction of justice is under active and intense investigation. It is also clear that Nunes has been acting for some time in a way that is so strange that his behavior must provoke red alerts not only for intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, but for the special counsel team and the Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigate the Russia scandal.

It would be fair for Mueller to directly ask Nunes whether he has been in contact with President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE or any of his associates who may be under suspicion for obstruction of justice, and if so, whether he coordinated with any of them about any action or plan that would constitute obstruction of justice if proven by evidence.

Regarding his unprecedented, widely criticized and dangerously ill-advised “memo” that could be used by Trump as a pretext for firing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinFeds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Judiciary issues blitz of subpoenas for Kushner, Sessions, Trump associates MORE and Robert Mueller, Nunes has been in such a frenzy to publicly release the memo that an alarming question occurs about why he feels such an extreme time pressure to release it so expeditiously.

Is there some event that Nunes or Trump know or believe is going to occur within days that accounts for his frenzied behavior, his rush to release the memo without the proper vetting and his hyperpartisan conduct, which has never occurred in the history of the House or Senate Intelligence Committees?

Is there some dramatic action by Mueller that is expected within days, which Nunes and Trump want to discredit or prevent? Is there a Saturday Night Massacre that could happen within days and involve mass firings and resignations? 

Is there some blockbuster and game-changing news story that would reveal extraordinary wrongdoing, which has not yet been published but is known by Trump insiders and expected to become public soon?

Throughout official Washington, there is a sense of frenzy, anxiety and deep concern that an event that would trigger an explosive constitutional crises may be weeks, days or hours away from happening.

Devin Nunes has put himself at the center of dangerous events. The special counsel team and Senate Intelligence Committee would be well advised to question him about what he knows and whether he has been coordinating actions with anyone under investigation for potential obstruction of justice or any other potential crimes now under investigation.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.