On May 17, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein, announced the appointment of Robert S. Mueller, III – a former DOJ official and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – to serve as Special Counsel to oversee and conduct the executive branch investigation into Russian cyber interference in the 2016 election. As I have said before, my priority has always been to ensure that thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead, which is exactly what my colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee have been working tirelessly to achieve. I believe that Robert Mueller serving as special counsel is consistent with this goal, and as such, I value his role at the DOJ. Let me be clear: Congress will not interfere with this investigation, but instead will allow it to take its course. Meanwhile, the ongoing bipartisan investigations in the House and Senate will continue.
Many have raised concerns pertaining to text messages between top FBI officials and a four-page document written by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes regarding potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). I believe it is critical that we draw a clear separation between the investigation into Russian interference conducted by Robert Mueller and the oversight of the executive branch conducted by Congress. As I previously stated, Robert Mueller’s investigation must be allowed to take its course.
However, Congress also has the responsibility and constitutional duty to preserve the integrity of our justice system by conducting oversight of the executive branch on behalf of the American people. There are legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated in the FISA process. Secondly, there may have been possible malfeasance by certain individuals at the FBI. These two conditions present a limited case, and I believe the American public needs the information in the document released so that transparency can reign supreme and accountability can occur. Congress must work together to ensure the FISA system works as intended and the rights of Americans are safeguarded.
On January 28, 2018, Chairman Nunes met with FBI Director Christopher Wray to confirm that the sources and methods involved in the document were protected, factual inaccuracies were not present, and national security would not be at risk. Then, on January 29, 2018, the House Committee on Intelligence voted in favor of providing public access to the document. Under committee rules, the President is granted five days to approve or deny the request to release this document to the public. On February 2, 2018, this document was made public. This decision provides greater transparency and I support a similar release of the minority’s document once it is properly scrubbed of all intelligence sources and methods.
Make no mistake, the Department of Justice and the FBI are vital institutions for American life and keeping the rule of law intact. The men and women at these departments must know that we respect their jobs, who they are, and what they do to protect our nation each and every day. It is also this very reason we need to have full transparency in order to hold individuals at such departments accountable if they have acted in an improper way. We must not use this memo to impugn the integrity of the justice system, which serves the American people with great honor.