Republicans threaten to subpoena Nellie Ohr
House Dems blast GOP for FBI, DOJ 'conspiracy theories' aimed to protect Trump
A pair of top House Democrats are pushing back against the latest Republican allegations aimed at the FBI and Justice Department, stating that GOP lawmakers are intentionally fabricating conspiracy theories in an effort to protect President Trump.
Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) -- the top Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees, respectively -- rebutted the claim of a GOP lawmaker that two FBI officials conspired to leak damaging information to the press in an attempt to hurt Trump.
"Republicans in Congress repeatedly cherry-pick, mischaracterize, and then leak bits and pieces of documents to fabricate conspiracy theories to protect President Trump, and this is just the latest example," Cummings and Nadler wrote in a joint statement.
Their remarks come after Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) raised "grave concerns" about several newly revealed text messages sent between former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Meadows claims the text messages show the pair discussing a media leak as well as what he indicated were other signs of officials leaking to reporters.
In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Monday, Meadows cites an April 2017 text from Strzok to Page in which they allegedly discuss a "media leak strategy."
"Our review of these new documents raises grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations," Meadows, head of the House Freedom Caucus and ally to Trump, wrote to Rosenstein.
"Review of these new documents suggests a coordinated effort on the part of the FBI and DOJ to release information in the public domain potentially harmful to President Donald Trump's administration."
Trump on Wednesday seized on news reports detailing Meadows's letter.
"New Strzok-Page texts reveal 'Media Leak Strategy.' @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI - but the world is watching, and they get it completely," Trump tweeted.
An attorney for Strzok also fiercely disputed Meadows's latest accusation, stating that the strategy referred to Strzok and Page's attempts to clamp down on leaks to the press at the bureau.
"The term 'media leak strategy' in Mr. Strzok's text refers to a Department-wide initiative to detect and stop leaks to the media," lawyer Aitan Goelman said in a statement. "The president and his enablers are once again peddling unfounded conspiracy theories to mislead the American people."
Page's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Nadler and Cummings argued that Meadows cherrypicked those texts and failed to include others to provide context, noting earlier text messages that same day where Strzok and Page talked about a meeting centered on proposed changes to the DOJ's efforts to stop leaks to the press.
"In a message earlier that same day, Mr. Strzok texted Ms. Page: 'DoJ getting all political and about to blown (sic) up the media leak regs and turn this into a circus,'" the Democrats said in their statement.
The letter comes amid already heightened tensions between House Republicans and the FBI and DOJ. Republicans have sought to unravel what they say is political bias against Trump by the top brass at the two agencies.