FBI Director Christopher Wray was grilled on Capitol Hill Thursday about embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok’s involvement in handling the infamous Steele dossier.
During a tense line of questioning in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan pressed Wray to release the FBI’s application for a secret surveillance court warrant taken out last year on a former Trump campaign adviser.
Jordan said that he had a strong “hunch” that Strzok, as a top FBI counterintelligence official, was the agent who handled the dossier and used it as part of the evidence for warrants submitted last year to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
Strzok is in the news because it was revealed on Saturday that he was kicked off of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for exchanging anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages with his mistress, an FBI lawyer named Lisa Page who also worked on Mueller’s team.
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Strzok was tapped to supervise the Russia investigation at the end of July 2016. Several weeks earlier he had been working as a central investigator on the Hillary Clinton email probe. After the discovery of his texts, Strzok was demoted to the FBI’s human resources department.
Jordan questioned why Strzok would be removed from the Mueller investigation considering that at least nine of the prosecutors working on the team have been found to have contributed to Democratic political candidates, including Clinton.
“If you kicked everybody off Mueller’s team who was anti-Trump there wouldn’t be anybody left,” Jordan said to Wray, who took over as FBI director in August.
“There’s got to be something more, and I’m trying to figure out what it is. But my hunch is, it has something to do with the dossier,” continued Jordan, who referred to the dossier as “National Enquirer garbage.”
Wray refused to answer questions about Strzok, the dossier, or the FBI application for the FISC warrant.
“I’m not prepared to discuss anything about a [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] process in this setting,” he said.
It has been reported that the FBI obtained a warrant in Sept. 2016 against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who is a prominent figure in the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Page, who refers to the Steele report as the “dodgy dossier,” also recently questioned whether Strzok was involved in taking out the surveillance warrant against him. (RELATED: Anti-Trump Text Messages Show Pattern Of Bias On Mueller’s Team)
He told The Daily Caller that he was “curious…whether [Strzok’s] dirty fingerprints” were on the surveillance application.
Jordan urged Wray to disprove his theory by providing the information that the FBI used to obtain the surveillance warrant.
“Maybe I’m wrong,” he said of his hunch, “but you can clear it up for all of us here.”
Wray refused to take the bait, saying that he did not believe that he has the authority to provide FISA information to the House Judiciary Committee.
“I do not believe that I can legally and appropriately share a FISA court submission with this committee,” Wray told Jordan.
Jordan interjected to clarify that he was not seeking the FBI’s actual submission to the surveillance court. Rather, he said he is seeking the information compiled by the FBI that was used to justify the warrant.
“I don’t think there’s anything prohibiting the FBI from giving us what they used to put together what was given to the FISA court, and there is nothing prohibiting him from doing that,” Jordan said in an aside to Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary panel.
“I don’t think there is either,” he replied.