A top Republican investigator said accountability is coming for any of those individuals who may have committed crimes during the Trump-Russia investigation.
With the Justice Department conducting a review of that operation, Rep. John Ratcliffe said during a Fox News interview Sunday that he trusts Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to provide answers.
And while Ratcliffe said he does not want to prematurely accuse any specific person of a crime — as Democrats have done with President Trump — he stressed that it is clear crimes were committed by people during the Obama administration, including government officials.
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“I think the first thing we need to do is make sure we don’t do what the Democrats have done,” the Texas Republican told host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures. “They accused Donald Trump of a crime and then they try and reverse engineer a process to justify that accusation. So I’m not going to accuse any specific person of any specific crime, I just want there to be a fair process to get there. What I do know as a former federal prosecutor is that it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration.”
Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees who was critical of special counsel Robert Mueller during his testimony in front of those committees last Wednesday, is reportedly Trump’s top pick to replace current Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Although many of the GOP lines of questioning last week focused on the origins of the investigation, Mueller largely shut them down, often saying these were issues that were “outside my purview.”
Ratcliffe explained this is why Barr, who has tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead the so-called investigation of the investigators, must fill in the gaps.
“Now the things that Bob Mueller said he didn’t know about and his team clearly didn’t look at, those are things that would be fair for Bill Barr and the Department of Justice to look at. Because we know that things happened in the Obama administration that haven’t been answered. There’s been no accountability for that yet,” Ratcliffe said.
“Well, the special counsel told us … that they didn’t do it. And if they didn’t do it, the only place we can get the answers is from the Justice Department right now,” Ratcliffe said. “The American people want that. Their faith and trust, Maria, has been shaken in our Justice Department, and the only way to get that back is for there to be real accountability with a very fair process. Again, I have supreme confidence in Bill Barr’s ability to deliver that. And at the end of the day, wherever the outcome may be, as long as we know that the process was fair, the evaluation was fair, justice will be done. Look, the truth always defends itself.”
Relevant to the Barr-Durham review is Horowitz’s inspector general investigation into alleged government surveillance abuses against at least one adviser for Trump’s campaign, Carter Page, an American citizen who was never charged with wrongdoing. Barr has said he is working closely with Horowitz, who is expected to wrap up his inquiry this fall, and the Justice Department could take prosecutorial action depending on the findings and recommendations.
Ratcliffe recommended three leads for the “investigation of the investigators.”
The first related to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “You talked earlier about Michael Flynn. His phone call with the Russian ambassador was a highly classified NSA intercept. Someone in the Obama administration leaked that call to the Washington Post. That’s a felony,” he said.
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed in February 2018 that the Justice Department was investigating that leak, and that he was overseeing the inquiry himself. “I am directing it personally and we’re pursuing it aggressively,” Sessions said at the time.
Ratcliffe suggested investigators also look into conflicting congressional testimony between Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Fusion GPS was the opposition research firm behind British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier, which was full of unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia and was used extensively by the FBI in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to justify surveillance of Page. Ohr acted as an unofficial back channel between Steel and the FBI. “Glenn Simpson from Fusion GPS in talking about the Steele dossier, said under oath that he and Bruce Ohr did not meet until after the election. Bruce Ohr said under oath that they met three months before the election. One of them is not telling the truth. We need a process to identify that,” Ratcliffe said.
The third area of interest, Ratcliffe said, is former FBI Director James Comey’s memos on his interactions with Trump before he was fired in May 2017. “Where it all started, Jim Comey. He admitted that he leaked his confidential conversations with the president to a reporter. Did that include classified information? We need a fair processes to find out answers to that,” Ratcliffe said.
Comey said he leaked one of his memos to a friend to leak to the press in the hope that it “might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” On May 16, 2017, the first Comey memo was reported for the first time. On May 17, 2017, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel.
“I trust, because Bill Barr has earned my trust already and the trust of the American people, that there’ll be a fair process with John Durham and with Michael Horowitz to get answers to that and provide accountability where it really belongs,” Ratcliffe said.